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The ease of driving in day-to-day conditions has made cars with automatic transmission a preferred choice among many car buyers. That said, historically, car owners have refrained from going for automatic transmission since the difference in cost is pretty high as compared to the manual versions. But, that has changed since the introduction of Maruti Suzuki's Auto Gear Shift (AGS) technology in 2014.
AGS works great for stop-start traffic that is the bane of city life. Another place where AGS cars can come in handy is when driving through the hills. On ghat roads, AGS affords the driver the freedom to concentrate on the road ahead. That in itself is a good thing as driving a car on the ghats can be quite a demanding task.
Hill (Incline) Starts
With a manual transmission car, your feet are constantly switching among the accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals as you try to keep the delicate balance between the forward motion and clutch release.
With Auto Gear Shift, there are a couple of ways to handle hill starts: -
The first method is for very gentle slopes only. Press the brake pedal and slot the AGS into D (Drive) mode. Release the brake pedal gently and the car may move forward slowly in creep mode. This allows drivers enough time to easily switch their right foot over to the accelerator pedal and continue with the climb up the gentle slope.
On upslope, since the Creep function is generally not effective to move the vehicle forward, the handbrake is recommended to be used, during start Lower the hand brake while putting more pressure on the accelerator pedal. This should ensure that you have enough momentum to keep on climbing with no issues.
For those looking for more control on very steep upslope, slippery or other tricky road conditions, switching to manual mode (M) and selecting first gear, and then following the same procedure with the handbrake and accelerator pedal (as mentioned before) can help them to get moving uphill.
General Driving Tips for Driving in the Hills
How to tackle the first incline?
Similar to a driving a manual transmission vehicle, build up some speed (but stay within the speed limits) before the incline begins and then start climbing up. The built-up momentum should be enough to get you going up the slope.
With Maruti Suzuki's Auto Gear Shift, the driver does not have to worry about changing gears. The AGS gearbox will automatically select the gear best suited for the climb depending on the road and input from the driver's right foot and will change gears accordingly. This allows the driver to concentrate on the road ahead, and brake or steer depending on the road conditions.
How to tackle hairpins and other turns on the Ghats?
When tackling hairpin bends and other sharp turns on hilly roads, always remember to stay in the centre of the lane. The AGS will select the appropriate gear when you brake and then re-accelerate after a turn, based on the driver input on the accelerator pedal.
Also, for those who desire more control, since AGS comes with the option to switch to manual mode, one can also shift down a gear, especially if the road condition starts to get tricky or slippery after the turn.
How to drive downhill?
In a manual transmission vehicle, the appropriate gear is selected by the driver by depressing the clutch and shifting into gear, after moving your right foot away from the accelerator.
In an AGS, the driver can control the speed of the vehicle using only the brake pedal and the appropriate gear is selected automatically.
On steep downslopes, it is recommended to switch to the manual mode to shift to a lower gear to maximize engine braking and for better vehicle controllability.
Once you understand the nature of the AGS gearbox and how it works for your driving style, driving your AGS on the hills will become a simple affair.
Learn more about the AGS technology by Maruti Suzuki, here.