Kicking up some dirt at the Land Rover Experience
"Preposterous! We didn't build these sophisticated machines to be driven around on smooth tarmac all through their lives! We must take it upon ourselves to show these blokes what Land Rovers were born to do," said some chap at Land Rover in his most English accent, and that's how the Land Rover Experience came into being. Well that's how I imagine it happened at least.
Most vehicles sold from the Land Rover fleet are probably going to be driven around in metropolitan cities or highways. As Halley found out, the Discovery Sport is a great SUV in these conditions with its refined engine, smooth gearbox and what not (read his full review here). But what's quite sad is that all that clever and expensive off-road equipment will, in most cases, go completely unnoticed. This is why the Land Rover Experience takes customers far from their comfort zone and gives them a taste of what these 4x4s are really capable of. So how was my experience with Land Rover? Quite simply put, it was short, but sweet.
The Land Rover Experience is held all over India and is managed by Cougar Motorsport, and the one I attended was in Aamby Valley near Mumbai. It started with a briefing where we were assigned our instructors, following which we were directed to the fleet of shiny new Discovery Sports. The course was set around a five kilometre trail that would give us a chance to experience some of the Land Rover Discovery Sport's features like the Terrain Response System.
So we set off, one after the other, down a dirt trail that started off relatively smooth, but got increasingly bumpy at each curve. The first downhill we got to was quite steep, so I dialed the hill descent control down to the slowest speed, and took both feet off the pedals and let it roll on. It was quite interesting steering this car down, as I felt the brakes lock each wheel individually to ensure that the car doesn't lose traction. What was even more entertaining, however, was watching the Discovery Sport ahead of me perform the same.
Next on our off-road itinerary, was some water wading. I switched the setting on the Terrain Response System to Mud And Ruts, which reduces throttle sensitivity and does other electronic wizardry to better suit the terrain. When the Discovery Sport ahead of me cleared the small pond, I ventured into the water, one wheel after the other. Again, there were no problems here as we waded through unhindered thanks to the Discovery Sport's 600mm water wading capacity. With the tyres still wet, we were guided towards a very short, but angled climb, which we simply glided over without any slipping or sliding. Last on our list was a steep incline to showcase the Discovery Sport's Hill Launch Assist, which holds the vehicle in place without having to apply the brakes. The little task also a test of the vehicle's traction control.
Once we made it back up, I handed over the wheel to my instructor and was in turn handed a pen and a feedback form. I ticked all the necessary goods and very goods until I reached a space on the sheet that read "Intention to buy." I handed the form back to the sweet lady saying, "Oh no, I don't intend on buying this vehicle." You can only dream so much on a correspondent's salary.
Images by Anis Shaikh
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