Our first long drive on our MG Hector || From Noida to Mandi, Himachal and Back

We booked our new car, an MG Hector (Petrol Smart), in July 2020 and owing to the high demand, received it in December 2020. After that we were driving it to and fro from office and the longest we had driven it was when we went to visit my parents in Delhi (about 45 km one way).   And after that Covid-19 stuck the world and all of us were in a lockdown. Our car stayed in the basement for several months. We would start it at times and take it around our sector to keep the battery running, but it was more or less stationary.   Then once the nation eased a little in November, we planned a two-week trip to VJ's hometown in Himachal, a tiny village called Badahin in Mandi district. This was the first time we would be driving all the way. Before this, both of us were comfortable driving a compact manual car (Hyundai i10). We had driven long distances (to Churu and back) but never on real hills. The only hill-driving experience we had was in Lonavala for a couple of hours.

We booked our new car, an MG Hector (Petrol Smart), in July 2019 and owing to the high demand, received it in December 2019. After that we were driving it to and fro from office and the longest we had driven it was when we went to visit my parents in Delhi (about 45 km one way). 

And after that Covid-19 stuck the world and all of us were in a lockdown. Our car stayed in the basement for several months. We would start it at times and take it around our sector to keep the battery running, but it was more or less stationary. 

Then once the nation eased a little in November, we planned a two-week trip to VJ's hometown in Himachal, a tiny village called Badahin in Mandi district. This was the first time we would be driving all the way. Before this, both of us were comfortable driving a compact manual car (Hyundai i10). We had driven long distances (to Churu and back) but never on real hills. The only hill-driving experience we had was in Lonavala for a couple of hours. 

This was the first time doing all of the following things: Driving long distance on hills, driving an SUV for such a distance, and driving an automatic transmission vehicle for such a distance. It was both thrilling as well as unnerving.

This was the first time doing all of the following things: Driving long distance on hills, driving an SUV for such a distance, and driving an automatic transmission vehicle for such a distance. It was both thrilling as well as unnerving. 

On the morning of November 7, we woke up at 4 am and cooked and packed some sandwiches, some parathas with bhurji, boiled some water in a kettle to carry for tea enroute and also packed some fruit and Doritos. Because of the pandemic, we did not want to take too many breaks, and definitely did not want to eat at a restaurant or dhaba. We would discover that we had over-estimated our capacity to eat.   Anyway, we started at 5am and VJ drove the first leg up to Ambala (235 kms). We stopped before Murthal for petrol and after that drove continuously up to Ambala. The drive from Noida to Panipat is quite tiresome because of the on-going construction work that seems to be taking forever to complete. The road after taking Panipat Flyover is smooth.

On the morning of November 7, we woke up at 4 am and cooked and packed some sandwiches, some parathas with bhurji, boiled some water in a kettle to carry for tea enroute and also packed some fruit and Doritos. Because of the pandemic, we did not want to take too many breaks, and definitely did not want to eat at a restaurant or dhaba. We would discover that we had over-estimated our capacity to eat. 

Anyway, we started at 5am and VJ drove the first leg up to Ambala (235 kms). We stopped before Murthal for petrol and after that drove continuously up to Ambala. The drive from Noida to Panipat is quite tiresome because of the on-going construction work that seems to be taking forever to complete. The road after taking Panipat Flyover is smooth. 

After crossing Ambala, right before entering Punjab, we took a short break and had a light breakfast of sandwich and tea. For tea, we prefer the wagh bakri premix sachets. You just need boiling water and a sachet and you have an amazing cuppa. We had our breakfast right there in the car. Got down, stretched our legs a bit and were on the way again. I took the wheel this time. And drove till Govind Sagar Water Reservoir near Lathiani in Himachal (192 kms).

After crossing Ambala, right before entering Punjab, we took a short break and had a light breakfast of sandwich and tea. For tea, we prefer the wagh bakri premix sachets. You just need boiling water and a sachet and you have an amazing cuppa. We had our breakfast right there in the car. Got down, stretched our legs a bit and were on the way again. I took the wheel this time. And drove till Govind Sagar Water Reservoir near Lathiani in Himachal (192 kms).


Drive up till Kharar was smooth, but we ran into heavy traffic in Kharar. The on-going construction of a flyover has slowed things down further. However, after Kharar, roads are smooth to the point of being sleep-inducing. You often see mirages on these roads and there are high chances that if you have eaten well, you may doze off. So it is advisable to stay vigilant. We took a loo break near Roop Nagar at the Haveli there.

Drive up till Kharar was smooth, but we ran into heavy traffic in Kharar. The on-going construction of a flyover has slowed things down further. However, after Kharar, roads are smooth to the point of being sleep-inducing. You often see mirages on these roads and there are high chances that if you have eaten well, you may doze off. So it is advisable to stay vigilant. We took a loo break near Roop Nagar at the Haveli there. 


The next congested stretch is in Nangal, where as well construction is on-going. Hills start after crossing Una, and you will find many crawling trucks that you would need to overtake. However, the number of trucks is much less than that on the Bilaspur stretch. And this was one of the reasons why we took this route. Other reasons - it is more scenic because of frequent views of Govind Sagar, it has fewer sharp and steep turns, and it is cleaner and tidier and feels more hilly. Bilaspur route is more inhabited and dusty. 


If you have some more time on your hands, you can also drive along the Bhakra Dam and drive alongside Govindsagar. That route is absolutely heavenly. However, we took the more well-travelled route through Una. 


Anyhow, for lunch, we got off the highway near Lathiani, and drove all the way to Govind Sagar. There were several cars parked there and local boys and girls were picnicking around. What was disappointing was the amount of garbage that has already started piling up around here. And for this, it is mostly the locals who are to blame. This isn't a very touristy spot. 

We were here for about an hour. Then we started and VJ drove till our home in Badahin. On the way, we got our fuel tank refilled at Ladraur and then carried on towards our home. 

On the way back, I drove from our home to Mohali (where we spent the night at a friend's place) and then till Ambala. VJ drove all the way back to Noida. On the way back, took the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. It lands you near Ghaziabad and from there till home is a little tiring. If there is no trouble at the borders, it is advisable to drive through Delhi if you are headed to Noida Expressway. Else, the last leg can become unnecessarily irritating. 

About the car, average-wise we did pretty good (considering Automatica Transmissions, and especially MG's, reputation) at 13 km/l in the plains. In the hills, it was pretty bad though. On good roads (state and national highways) it was around 8 km/l whereas on local roads, it was around 7km/l. Other aspects to consider - automatic transmission worked really well for us. However, there are some tiny pickup issues. May be it is owing to the fact that the car is actually pretty heavy.   After the success if our first road trip in our MG Hector, we are feeling very confident and will hopefully soon head out to our next one. Wishing the pandemic to be tamed ASAP. :)

About the car, average-wise we did pretty good (considering Automatic Transmissions, and especially MG's, reputation) at 13 km/l in the plains. In the hills, it was pretty bad though. On good roads (state and national highways) it was around 8 km/l whereas on local roads, it was around 7km/l. Other aspects to consider - automatic transmission worked really well for us. However, there are some tiny pickup issues. May be it is owing to the fact that the car is actually pretty heavy. 

After the success of our first road trip in our MG Hector, we are feeling very confident and will hopefully soon head out to our next one. Wishing the pandemic to be tamed ASAP. :)

Comments

Nandan Jha said…
You are time-traveling. Got your car in Dec 2020 and went to Himachal in Nov. Kuch gadbad hai.
Vibha said…
We had a lot time on our hands during the lockdown for a few scientific breakthroughs. :D

Anyway. Thanks for pointing this out Nandan. Have corrected.

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