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Kicking dirt

Team OD  | Published: August 26, 2011, 05:27 AM IST

SUVs are absolute poser delights, fantastically huge with outstanding presence they are quite sensational to turn up at special occasions in. But SUVs don't leave factory production lines with such low ambition. Manufacturers design SUVs with a diverse set of off-road abilities, in most cases these aren't extreme abilities yet even the run of the mill 4x4 features rarely if ever get used.

Of course the flip side of the story is that if you've spent over Rs 30 lakh on your SUV would you really venture into the great outdoors and run the risk of scratching or damaging your SUV. Not many do. And that is why Audi has designed a new off-road program called the Q Drive which gives customers and dealers from various regions the chance to experience just what Audi SUVs are capable of without having to get their personal SUVs dirty. The first such Q Drive was held near Jaipur at Dera Amer, where an off-road circuit was constructed that tested various abilities of the Q7 and the Q5.

In the case of the Q7, deep grooves sunk alternatively in short gaps tested the suspension articulation. With the suspension raised it's quite a sight to see the Q7 trawling through those ruts with various wheels hanging in the air precariously. Slaloms in the dirt tested the ability of the traction control system to keep the SUVs within control, but we also got to sample the behaviour of such large SUVs with the traction control switched off. Steep inclines and descents on sandy, gravel strewn and rocky ground also allowed features like the AWD, traction control and hill descent to showcase just how they work to keep things safe and sound while you're having a lot of fun at the same time.

All these exercises are conducted under the supervision of trained experts who allow you to exploit the full set of abilities with careful instructions. So while you do get to have a lot of fun you also learn quite a bit about just how much these SUVs are capable of. The Audi Q Drive much like the Mercedes Star Drive event is a fantastic learning experience. Audi intends taking this event to several regions around the country to allow more of its customers and dealers to experience the full range of the Q vehicles off-road abilities, so if you are an Audi customer don't miss out on this.

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