This time, the Land Rover Above and Beyond Tour took place in Aamby Valley where I got the chance to experience the Range Rover Evoque in its natural habitat.
The Land Rover Above and Beyond Tour, formerly known as the Land Rover Experience, is a unique and one-of-a-kind series of off-road drive experiences on natural trails which highlights the remarkable capabilities of Land Rover vehicles. For 2018-19, the tour will travel to over 10 cities across India.
While all motoring enthusiasts generally grow up hearing about the legendary off-road capabilities of Land Rover vehicles, it is during drives like these when one can truly experience and appreciate the mind-boggling amount of technology that has gone into making these vehicles so adept at tackling these type conditions. Despite all the modern electronic intervention, the cars still remain true to their original DNA and continue to offer robust and go-anywhere characteristics of their predecessors.
This time around, I got the chance to attend the Mumbai edition of the Above and Beyond Tour. The actual venue was located at 19-Degree North in Aamby Valley, a few kilometres ahead of Lonavala. This was my second Land Rover experience as I had been fortunate enough in the past to have been a part of the Delhi edition in 2017. While I was already in awe of the off-road track which was used in Delhi, the setup in Aamby Valley turned out to be an absolute monster to tame, with bumper-killing rocks and boulders littered all over the track, waiting to pounce at the smallest of error in judgement.
After a safety briefing by Mr Ashish Gupta, who heads Cougar Motorsport, the official partners of Land Rover India for conducting the event, we were soon introduced to our instructors who escorted us to our vehicles. As I had done the experience in the Discovery Sport last time, it was only logical to choose the Range Rover Evoque this time, the second and only other option available for us to drive. By the end of the drive, I had plenty of notes to a draw a quick comparison between the two models.
Throughout the drive, I got the chance to test out the numerous off-road features which are available in Land Rovers, such as the Terrain Response, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Traction Control. While there are many more features on offer, these were the ones which were used most extensively during my drive. While the Terrain Response system offers four different driving modes depending on the type of surface the car is being driven on, the ATPC allows the car to virtually drive itself across any kind of terrain, without any intervention from the driver. However, the driver has the option of setting the pace of the progress, that is, the speed at which the car will drive itself. HDC, as the name suggests, allows the driver to set a speed at which he/she wants to go down a hill and by activating it, the car will apply the brakes on its own to make sure it progresses down the slope at the set speed without any braking requirement from the driver.
The Traction Control remains on by default and it makes sure that maximum power is sent to the wheels that have the most grip. This allows the car to pass through any kind of terrain without getting stuck. What's interesting here is the fact that depending on the driving mode selected in the Terrain Response system, all other settings are changed accordingly. To make this a little easier to understand, if the car is in Sandy Mode, the HDC will automatically be set to a higher speed than compared to its set speed in the Mud and Ruts mode. This is because on a sandy surface, maintaining maximum safe momentum is crucial whereas when passing through mud and ruts, one needs a gradual power supply (lower speed) in order to pass safely over large obstacles.
In all honesty, all that I have described in the above paragraphs is just the tip of the iceberg. Combine the actual drive experience with the constant guidance provided by my able instructor, and it all becomes highly encyclopedic. To the readers I can only say this - if you get chance, do get yourself enrolled in one of these experiences and you will realise, or rather understand, why Land Rovers are revered as the ultimate off-road machines across the world!