Sunday, December 26, 2010

Alto K10: A Dhantenan Road Trip (log of day 1)

The last-minute change of vehicle meant drastic changes to our entire plans. The Alto K10 is new, faster than the jeep, but can we take it from Bangalore to Kolkata? And what will happen to all that luggage we packed for a road trip to South Africa? This is one of the smallest hatchbacks in India and the luggage is meant for a Bolero. My wife (who was about to pack for a one-year-long road trip) was very dejected at the proposal, but I was secretly excited for two reasons:

  • she will learn to pack lean
  • I will get to drive the young and peppy Alto K10, which forever wants to fly

I quickly took the Alto to the nearest accessories shop and got sun films for the windows, a local stereo, and an entry-level roof rack that I didn't intend to keep after this trip. We were supposed to start very early on December 24, but I spent a long time at the accessories shop at Tilaknagar and came home really tired. When I reached, I was shocked to see that the first bullet point hadn't been addressed at all.

"What man? I thought you were packing everything into one bag?"

She had an evil grin on her face: "But then you got a roof rack, didn't you? Don't worry, I unpacked your three pairs of shoes and offloaded all your trousers. You have to survive with only two pairs of jeans for 21 days."

"But why still four bags?"

She had no explanation. She had packed things from one bag into another and when she finished, the number of bags was still the same and so was the bulk. We went off to sleep really late with a lot of apprehension about the size of the car...will it go?

Dec 24: Our journey started at 5.30 instead of at 4.00, and by then the fog was setting in. We had decided to give Old Madras Road the skip and took Hosur Road instead. The drive till Dharmapuri was slow because of the fog, but after a bio-break, we reached Vellore around 9.00 in the morning. Our target was to go from Vellore to Chittoor, and then touch Naidupeta at least by 11.00 in the morning. That seemed absurd right now, but so far, the Alto K10 seemed to be doing faster speeds than the Bolero. It is very easy to maneuver and if you are negotiating a zigzag overtake of two vehicles, it manages it with elan. I would never even dream of doing such maneuvers in the Bolero given its high CG. After a quick breakfast at Vellore, we hit Ranipetta and took a left turn towards Chittoor. That little distance of 43 km between Ranipetta and Chittoor was beautiful and quick. Beautiful because of the landscape all around and the winding road. Quick because there was hardly any traffic. Before Chittoor, we took a right turn toward the Tirupati road (also known as Chittoor bypass). We finally reached Naidupeta at 1.00 (350 km from Bangalore), way behind our original schedule. Rajmundhry seemed impossible that day, but Vijaywada, another 386 from Naidupeta, was within reach.

We reached Vijaywada at around 6.00 and entered the town. That is an average of 77 km per hour, quite a bit more than we could achieve during our last trip to Calcutta in the Bolero GLX. By 6.30, we had checked in to Hotel Garuda Residency, which is bang opposite the star-rated Gateway Hotel. We had carried lunch on the first day, so the stops were mostly under trees. I gradually started appreciating the packing by then. Everything was neatly arranged and planned, from the route map, the food, to the medicines (we Bengalis frequently need digestive pills...some say even after a yawnful of oxygen intake) and back at the hotel the clothes to wear and slippers. The Alto K10 behaved pretty well during the journey and hit 100 kph at 3000 rpm very easily. Despite the load, it touched 120 kph at 3500 rpm, but then there are many toll booths on the entire stretch to not let you be very adventurous. The fuel economy was pretty decent at 16.49 kmpl, and given the frequent third-gear chases, I feel it is very, very frugal indeed.

The Alto K10 has an amazing third gear. The manual says you shouldn't go beyond 119 kmph in third gear. Keeping that in mind, I made it zoom till 100 kph in third gear, much to the shame of many SUVs on the road, who are all mostly aggressive drivers to say the least (I, for a change, am a "nice" SUV driver...I never am aggressive...I never nudge cars off the road...I never swerve towards other cars trying to overtake just to make them scrape the median and topple to the other side only to be thrown into the air by a truck...I never switch on all my six lights while driving on the wrong side, blinding oncoming traffic...chhheeeee!!). Opposed to that, if I gradually try to speed from 80 to 120 in fifth gear, it takes a few seconds longer. Such decent behavior will obviously return more than 20 km per liter of petrol. But for me, the thrill of the sudden lunging forward in the third gear is too tempting to resist.

The food that night was awesome: kalmi kebabs, butter naan, and daal, followed by a couple of usual digestive golis and a couple of Disprins. I will talk about the effect of the Disprins later. Now for some sleep.


H V Kumar said...

Nice account, Arijit. Quite a transition from a larger SUV to a small car!

Any details of the Gardua Residency Hotel that you stayed in Vijaywada - location, tariff, etc?

Prasad S said...

Didn't expect a Alto K10 is capable of such a feat.
Waiting for your return trip log too.

Karthik said...


Great travelogue ,but my doubt is when i took my K10 to Mysore steering started vibrating @ 90 KM/hr it looks like u never felt that @100/hr i felt like there is no control over the vehicle ,I was forced back to 85 ... any thing to be corrected in the car ?? please suggest