Samruddhi Expressway: First drive experience with a 2022 Audi A4

Coming back to the drive, or rather the end of it, I paid Rs 775 as toll at the exit plaza, closer to Nagpur.

BHPian JoshMachine recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I got "Samruddhi"ed

Ever since the Samruddhi expressway was inaugurated in December, I had subscribed to this thread on the forum and was following it almost every other day. So much so, that I started fancying the Pune - Nagpur trip by considering various routes & diversions (like this post).

Finally, the day dawned. Today.

Route taken for the journey:

Pune > Ahmednagar > Takli interchange Aurangabad > Nagpur

As per GMaps, it says 12+ hrs. but I covered the entire route (door to door) very comfortably and leisurely in 10.30 hrs itself including 2 stops for food + bio breaks.

Started off from Pune around 0515 hrs. First stop, Hotel SmileStone on the Pune-Nagar highway after couple of hours.

The Pune - Ahmednagar highway always seems to be in a state of flux what with numerous road works ongoing at some place or the other, or atleast attempts being made. But with the new longish Ahmednagar city flyover open to public, passing through was a breeze and within no time I was back on the state highway cruising towards Aurangabad.

To move across towards the Takli interchange before Aurangabad, I had made note of a specific turn going onto the Dhule - Solapur highway:-

Before this turn, there are IOCL and BP pumps offering amenities to freshen up. I stopped at Rajput restaurant (location) and got the A4 tanked up, basis suggestions from fellow BHPians warning about potential non-availability of fuel on the Samruddhi expressway.

Resting for a fuel stop:-

After that, it was a quick heave-ho towards the Takli interchange via Karodi toll plaza (toll Rs 65) on the Solapur highway.

The entry roads towards the Samruddhi expressway are well covered with adequate signages, which you can't miss.

Although stopping on the expressway is not recommended but I saw this wide shoulder just near the start, managed to click a snap after ensuring adequate precaution. Hardly any traffic on the road, and I parked for maybe 30 seconds or so:-

Whatever I had read about the expressway, is absolutely right. And thanks to our BHPians who have noted all the points (good and not-so-good) exactly down to the letter!

The infrastructure is nothing short of world-class. Be it the signages, the lane widths, the road markings, the junctions etc. is all done quite diligently.
The road route design itself seems to have been thoughtfully plotted, there are no sharp turns anywhere, just arrow straight roads as far ahead as the eye can see.

The speed limit of 120 km/h seems good to have on such roads, but I could see most vehicles breaking this threshold very frequently. Not recommended at all specially with the rising temperatures around. When I drove today afternoon, the outside temperature was already close to 35 degrees. One would need to ensure tyre health in top condition before embarking on such high-speed journey.

Among all the other things that are fantastic, the road surface quality is something of a downer. Considering that the expressway is fresh, I expected that the surface will be even and properly laid all along. But I found it bumpy specially for 40-50 km just after Takli interchange and also closer to the Nagpur exit. At some sections, I was reminded of the Pune - Mumbai expressway harshness. Both have a cement top.

Couple of shots taken somewhere on the expressway:-

To get a slightly better perspective, here are some videos taken from the dashcam:-

Video 1

Video 2

My dad was the co-passenger today, and he obliged with this pic from his seat:-

The A4 was at ease, humming along and cruising quite comfortably at 1400-1600 rpm. Very quiet, very cocooned inside the cabin.

There are fuel pumps along the way, on either sides, so worrying about it or starting with a full tank is really not necessary as I found out later. However, this journey is best enjoyed without any stoppages if one can and wishes to do so. I personally like to stop every 2.5-3 hrs or so, hence I wouldn't do this entire stretch at one go ever.

Having said this, there is not a single proper / planned place with basic amenities like a restroom or a food court along the entire route atleast on the Aurangabad - Nagpur side. And this is absolutely non-pardonable! Any family travelling on this expressway will have a tough time. I saw couple of signs mentioning a rest/service area but they seemed nowhere close to even having a brick & mortar structure.
While traversing today, I stopped briefly today at a place about 50 kms before Washim, at a BPCL pump. But that was just a make-shift arrangement with couple of chai-wada pav tapris.

Quite a few folks had cautioned about wild animals straying, and so I was keeping an eye out for them all along. Fortunately, none appeared on the scene today.

Another word of caution - this time its about the driver itself. Or rather the state of highway synopsis:-

Highway hypnosis is something that many drivers face while on long road trips. Just like its name, it is a condition where the driver is sleeping with his eyes wide open while driving the car. Drivers mostly face this when they are driving continuously on long, straight, and smooth stretches of highways. This can happen to anyone on the road. A person who has recently learned to drive to an experienced truck driver who spent most of his time on the road are vulnerable to this situation. It is an extremely dangerous situation and the same can be the reason for a high speed crash.

There are many prescriptions to avoid getting zoned out, I follow two of them:- Never drive for more than 2.5-3 hrs at a stretch. Play music slightly louder than usual to ensure you actually listen to the song while enjoying the drive. Ofcourse, there is the good old caffeine break whenever you need it.

Coming back to the drive, or rather the end of it, I paid Rs 775 as toll at the exit plaza, closer to Nagpur.

And here are the MID stats when it was time to switch off the ignition after reaching the destination:-

A phenomenal FE of almost 18 km/l for the 190 hp super turbo-petrol TFSI engine, with an average speed of 80 km/h. This speed was slightly lower courtesy of the initial Pune-Ahmednagar -Takli interchange state highway speed breakers!

With this trip, the odo now is some 220-odd km shy of the 14,000 km mark. All of this in just about 10 months of a super interesting and wonderful ownership. And when I return to Pune, it will be closer to the 15,000 km milestone.

...which would mean that I would need to take the car for its first servicing. Am already getting reminders for the same :-

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