Volvo 5 Senses drive: Participants share their experience
A great OVERDRIVE team led by the Editor-in-Chief, Bertrand D'souza, put together this expedition. A very enthusiastic and raring-to-go group of participants, some most advanced cars and SUVs (considered the safest in the world), an experienced and highly respected racing driver and now a motorsports company owner Vijay Parmar to lead and guide the entire expedition, and the adventurous route itself made for a perfect recipe for an assault on all our senses.
The "5 Senses" drive of Volvo cars and SUVs from Chandigarh to Prashar Lake and back in four days through some of the most difficult and dangerous terrain was, I presume, supposed to excite our senses and hence the name. But going by what we experienced, it definitely was an assault and I mean it in a positive way.
The Volvo XC90 was the most expensive and technically advanced car in the group. As expected it was also the most exciting to drive, and we got to explore all its features. Not that the others XC60 and S60 crossover weren't exciting. While some of the youngsters in the group were fascinated by the music system in the XC90 and wanted it at full blast (it was a breathtaking system by the way), I was captivated by the amount of intelligence that has been built into the car. It has a brain of its own and sometimes thinks ahead of the driver and reacts to keep the passengers safe. Hill descent in Off-road mode - with automatic ground clearance adjustment and highway cruise features (in Dynamic mode) - were used by us effectively throughout the route, and the response from the vehicle was truly amazing. One felt extremely safe (as safe as in a battle tank driven through city roads) whether you were driving on a highway or through a single lane, winding, uphill muddy road with the mountain on one side and a sheer drop of a few thousand feet on the other.
In fact, all the cars performed so well that in spite of going through such treacherous roads and no roads in some places (not to mention the frequent new hands at the wheel as we changed cars regularly), there was not a single breakdown. This says a lot about the design and build quality of the Volvos.
With stays in tents (with wild horses for company; throughout the night they were grazing close to my tent) riverside resorts, hotels and a visit to a place of worship (Prashar Lake with the temple), the trip made complete sense. Looking forward to the next one.
I was excited to participate in my first event with OVERDRIVE, and I'm so glad that I finally did. It was an experience thoughtfully curated by the Team OD and designed to touch all the senses.
I was amazed at the capabilities of the Volvo XC90 that combined superb off-road capabilities, extensive contemporary features, and a classy and comfortable cabin. This was best exemplified when we drove downhill from Jalori Pass on a narrow slushy track and the descent was ably controlled by the XC90's Off-road mode without any drama, allowing me to enjoy the breathtaking beauty all around.
Later, I found myself in the parking lot, sitting inside the XC90 for a long time listening to Hotel California (Live) in Concert mode of the Bowers & Wilkins audiophile grade music system.
It was amazing to witness the dedication of the OVERDRIVE team in creating content in such challenging and dynamic conditions. The arrangements were pitch perfect, right down to the experience of learning to pitch my tent in a remote Bugyal near Prashar lake at 8,500 feet above the sea level.
Interaction with Bertrand and his colleagues during the entire trip was very engaging. While many parts of the drive were challenging and could have been worrisome on one's own, Vijay Parmar's presence as the convoy leader was very reassuring, and his interesting anecdotes and local knowledge made the drives more enjoyable. Hopefully, participation in an OVERDRIVE event will become an annual treat for me.
This was my second trip with OVERDRIVE, and this time too the experience was fantastic. We started from Chandigarh and the route charted out for us was quite challenging and went through some difficult terrains. The fabulous Volvo cars we got to drive each day - the latest XC90, XC60 and the S60 crossover - were more than up to the challenge. The whole expedition was planned by the Team OD and the great rallying expert Vijay Parmar. Vijay was not only our coach and mentor in navigating through this lovely but often treacherous terrain, but he is a virtual storehouse of information about everything Himachal Pradesh, from the history and culture to engineering and architecture.
We also got a masterclass in good driving from Bert, which was very helpful when driving around the hills, which I had no previous experience of. Another novel experience was of pitching our own tents and spending the whole night in the wild.
The Volvo cars are great rides and packed features like hill descent and Sensus touchscreen control system which gave me a glimpse into the future of automotive experience design. We used these cars to tackle rocky water and mud, and we did it without any failure. The Volvo cars proved to be very safe and strong and not just comfortable but felt luxurious too with the Bowers & Wilkins speakers which made the music sound fabulous.
Overall, this trip was very exciting and as the name 5 Senses drive suggests, I can say that we experienced the sight, sound, smell, touch and taste of Himachal, thanks to Volvo and Team OD.
Driving amidst the beautiful landscapes and enthralling snow-capped mountains of Himalayas, this journey seemed like a dream! Driving on one of the highest and toughest roads of Himachal Pradesh gave me an adrenaline rush. The picturesque and scenic view made me sway with sheer happiness.
The XC90's luxurious cabin with judicious use of non-veneered wood, leather and the uncluttered dashboard looks super impressive. In fact, this is one of the best dashboard designs I've ever seen. The infotainment system with the large nine-inch touchscreen has clear fonts and sharp graphics making it great to use there are swipe and pinch functions just like on a smartphone!
The Volvo XC90 has an air-suspension system. It offers four modes: Eco, Comfort, Off-road and Performance. The difference in ride quality was very noticeable. Travelling in Volvo S60, XC60 and XC90, one of the safest vehicles in the world, was an awesome experience. Also, the collision avoidance technology "city safety" is really good.
These Volvo cars, designed in Sweden, offered great legroom at the rear. The seats are comfortable, and the SUVs' practical ground clearance is the main features that appealed to me. In a nutshell, Volvo vehicles are all about roominess, comfort, safety and efficiency.
I was enchanted by my stay at the Ramgarh Heritage, a photographer's paradise. It's located at the foot of the Himalayas in Panchkula, where my journey started towards discovering the undiscovered wilderness in the midst of mother nature. The Volvo SUVs added to the flavour of it by never falling short of their duties. Visiting Narkanda, a place above Shimla, where no roads in the lap of wilderness gave me some pollution-free environment, is like a dream to a city guy like me.
This was only possible with the Volvo SUVs which cruised over the steep and rough terrain like a paraglider. On the way to Raison, a place before Manali, I got the opportunity of crossing the Jalori Pass (a special stage) in the days of the Himalayan Rally which was like a childhood dream to me.
Team OD gave me the moral support to prove myself that I am not a rookie driver when I did some real off-roading and water splashing at the shallow end of the river Beas and drove off to Parashar Lake, a place which I had heard a lot of mythological tales about.
Kudos to the Team OD and Volvo India for the wonderful experience where not only my "5 Senses" were raised by the beauty of nature but also helped me enhance my sixth sense.
Live Life In OVERDRIVE is always with its magnificent share of thrills and excitements. Looking forward for further drives to come.
To be honest, when I made my decision to go to the OVERDRIVE Volvo road trip in Himachal Pradesh, all I wanted to do was enjoy with Team OD and the nature. Because of the conservative styling and no experience of Volvo cars, I wasn't too excited. However, what I experienced during the past few days of drive is amazing. Everything - the cars, the hotels, the roads and the team - was perfect.
The warm welcome at the historical Ramgarh Heritage and seeing the new Volvo cars made us more curious about them and the drive. Actually, the fantastic looking XC90 made me go for a selfie with it. The food and ambiance at Ramgarh Heritage was fabulous. This time Vijay Parmar lead the trip, and on very first day of his detailed briefing we came to know of his expertise in this field, which we experienced for next four days.
The first day's drive to Narkanda was quite long. Initially, we got a smooth tarmac road and I was driving the newly launched S60 cross country. I really pushed very hard through the corners as I couldn't restrict myself from exploring the cornering abilities of the car. It's a very good handling car. With SUV-like ground clearance and dynamics of a sedan made for an interesting drive. We also explored its off-roading capabilities while crossing rivers. It was my first trip to Narkanda and the temperatures ranging from 8-10 degree C in evening felt literally freezing, especially after facing the 40 degree heat of Latur from where I'd come from.
The drive to Raison was the scenic. An early start in the XC60 and what I loved was the proportions of the car with the real feel of an SUV. I loved exploring the capabilities of car through corners, on straight roads and while climbing mountain roads. I felt the XC60 was the more desirable package. We stopped for the night at Neeralaya, such a good place to stay. The location and nature at Neeralaya meant I kept snapping pictures and soon I was out of all the memory space in my smart phone and camera.
On the third day, for the journey to Prashar Lake we preferred the XC90, the most featured and comfortable SUV. We experienced the quality and comfort even on very bad roads. The XC90 is loaded with features, especially the B&W audio system and suspension. It also looks amazing.
The camp stay was a new experience, which reminded me of my childhood days. During the drive, Vijay (who heads Himalayan Motorsport) with his colleague Alkapidia (who works for Himalayan Motorsport and knows a lot about Himalayas) and Omi (who assists Vijay) were very caring, informative and well disciplined. Sudesh from Volvo Cars India was always eager to share the little technical details of all cars. Bert from Team OD shared his expertise in safe driving skills. The radio sets in all cars broadcast and gave a chance to everyone to share his knowledge. All in all, it was a learning experience with beautiful people at beautiful places in beautiful cars. That is Live Life In OVERDRIVE!
The fabulous Volvo cars we got to drive each day, the latest XC90, XC60 and the S60 Cross Country, were more than up to the challenge. The whole expedition was planned very beautifully by the Team OD.
We also got a masterclass in driving from Bertrand D'souza, which was very helpful for us to drive through the hills. Another novel experience was of pitching our own tents, and I've won the second place in the Pitch Your Tent competition. I received a lovely gift from Volvo for this achievement. We spent the whole night in the wild, and it was quite an intriguing experience.
The Volvo cars are great rides and packed features like hill descent and touchscreen control system which gave me a glimpse into the future of automotive experience design. We used these cars to tackle rocky water and mud, and we did it without any failure. The Volvo cars proved to be very safe and strong and not just comfortable but felt luxurious too.
Overall, this trip was very exciting, and as the name 5 Senses suggests I can say that we experienced the sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Thanks to Volvo and Team OD.
OVERDRIVE gave us the opportunity to drive the machines which were technologically very superior, the Volvo cars. One must say the drive we had from Chandigarh-Narkanda-Raison-Prashar Lake and back to Chandigarh was a real test for the machines.
In fact, the road on which we drove was as good as no road and the height at which we were driving amazed me. I'd say in this test of man and the machine, the machine was the winner. The way the vehicles behaved on the road was something which Volvo can be proud off.
One must thank OVERDRIVE for chalking out such a tough route and making the journey a memorable one. Volvo should be proud of the fact that it had chosen OVERDRIVE to conduct the driving test for its vehicles. The entire Team OD was very caring and made the journey very comfortable despite its peril. The valuable driving tips by Bert were very helpful too. We had joy, we had fun and we all thank OVERDRIVE for the run.
This was not only my first experience with OVERDRIVE but also my first-ever adventure expedition and that too with the most fantastic Volvo cars and Team OD. This experience gave me an opportunity to drive through the most exasperating terrain, roads, rivers and to stay in pleasant riverside, valley side and heritage hotels.
We started from the splendid hotel Ramgarh Heritage. The journey was supposed to be off-road, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Bert, Amit, Vijay, Gulam, Rishabh and the whole OVERDRIVE and Himalayan Motorsport team guided us to drive through the treacherous roads. I have been driving cars for many years, but I learnt new lessons from Bert. The roads going to Narkanda, Raison, Prashar Lake and Jalori Pass were the most deadly roads which ended at classy destinations like Tethys, Niralaya and the divine Prashar Lake.
This was the first time I was driving the incredible Volvo cars which have smart features like hill decent, auto braking and Off-road mode for XC90, and the awe-inspiring Bowers & Wilkins music system was a treat. The seating comfort and the safety features were mind-blowing. This four-day episode of thrill inducing driving, mesmerising nature and coordinated teamwork was a blithesome experience for me.
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