A trip to the hills never fails to excite: replacing city skies with fresh air, crisp greenery, and the tranquillity of valleys can make for a wholesome escape from daily life. Driving into the hills can be thrilling, though the first-time hill-climbing driver might feel some trepidation. As with driving in any other condition, driving through winding, hilly roads involves some extra skill and specific tips; follow these for a memorable road trip.
1. Start easy: Head to places at lower altitudes
If you’ve not driven through high-altitude mountain terrain before, you might want to get a little practice by first attempting simpler, lower altitude drives on good, well-paved roads. This will help you get used to the demands of hill driving without subjecting you to any hair-raising situations. For instance, a weekend trip to a hill station could be a good starting point.
2. Mind the curves: Slow down and use the horn
Hill drives are marked by frequent curves, turns, and hairpins, some of which can be treacherous to navigate. Predicting the sharpness of a corner can be difficult, especially in the case of blind turns. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to slow down as you come upon a turn; honking is also advisable to alert oncoming traffic of your approach. This is particularly necessary if you cannot see oncoming vehicles due to trees or shrubs blocking visibility.
3. Prevention, not cure: Be cautious of road conditions
Road conditions in the hills are almost constantly changing—elevations go up and down, sharp turns appear seemingly without notice, and the terrain below your car’s wheels can go from asphalt to gravel to concrete without warning. Driving in the hills requires you to stay sharp and attentive and keep these varying factors in mind. Cars like the MG Hector 2021 come with an Electronic Stability Program and Traction Control System that offer a better grip on all kinds of surfaces to keep you safe. These systems constantly monitor the vehicle’s performance and actively counteract adverse situations like skidding, wheelspin, and loss of traction.
4. Beware of unpredictable weather
The weather in mountainous regions can be fickle and unpredictable. Sunshine can give way to showers at a moment’s notice, and fog can limit visibility when you least expect it. You need to respond to the changing weather quickly and adjust your driving speed and style to match such conditions. A pro tip: always keep your car’s headlights on when driving in such terrain, especially during early mornings or evenings. This can ensure you are clearly visible to oncoming traffic, even from a distance. With features like rain-sensing wipers, front, rear, and corner fog lamps, heated rear-view mirrors, and a rear defogger, the evolved MG Hector 2021 can make it easier to deal with unpredictable weather conditions to make your drives smoother and safer.
5. Fill up: A full tank goes a long way on hill climbs
Going uphill consumes more fuel than driving on flat roads, and fuel pumps (and telecommunications network coverage) are often found less frequently in hilly and mountainous regions. Running out of fuel on a narrow, climbing road can be inconvenient at best, hazardous at worst. For this reason, it is advisable to ensure you have a full or at least semi-full tank before you start driving uphill to avoid getting stranded.
6. Put a brake on braking
Descending from higher altitudes will require frequent braking, but overdo it, and you risk brake failure. Lightly tapping on the brakes instead of slamming them will keep them in good condition and functioning properly. Paying attention to the road, anticipating curves and turns, and dropping speed beforehand will reduce the need for heavy braking. Additionally, descend steep gradients in lower gears; this method, called engine braking, will use the gearbox to keep the car’s descend speed in check. However, it is essential to note that it is highly inadvisable to put your car in neutral when coasting downhill, as this can make it difficult to control the vehicle. The new MG Hector 2021 is fitted with Hill Hold Control, Anti-lock Braking System + Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Rear Disc Brakes, and Brake Assist to help navigate steep inclines and declines without overworking the brakes.
7. Plot your trip beforehand
Map your trip on Google Maps, make a mental note of all the forks in the road, and note down fuel pumps and auto garages on your route to avoid any surprises. It is also recommended to keep friends and family informed of your travel plans and carry some food and water for the way. Your journey can be made easier with MG’s i-Smart technology, which is available in the new MG Hector 2021. It allows you to plan a trip on your phone and send it to your car’s screen, with added functionality to search for points of interest on the go. The navigation component of i-Smart shows you live traffic, multiple routes, real-time route planning, and rerouting, fuel station suggestions, location-based speed alerts, and much more.
Follow these tips to ensure your road trips to the hills are safe and hassle-free. Needless to say, mastering the art of driving through the mountains will make for epic drives and countless memories.