Above and Beyond Tour from Land Rover is an off-roading training activity that showcases the capability, versatility and composure of the robust Land Rover range of vehicles. The Land Rover Experience as it was known previously has now been renamed to The Above and Beyond Tour. This tour gives a chance to current and perspective customers to actually drive the Land Rover SUVs guided by experienced trainers on some toughest off road terrains.
Food for Thought
The Land Rover Above and Beyond Tour first started in 1980at Solihull plant in United Kingdom. And since then the Experience Centers have grown in various countries including India, China, Russia, Middle East, South Africa, Scandinavia, Europe, North America. So far 1,007,050 experiences have been delivered through these off road tours. In India, this tour was first introduced in 2013 delivering 13,500 experiences so far. All SUVs used in this tour are production versions of Land Rovers that are put to pace on natural terrains. Needless to say health and safety are taken care of during these activities.
Our Above and Beyond Tour Experience was in Mumbai, in-fact it was at 19 Degrees North, which is on the outskirts of Lonavala near Mumbai. We have done this track before, but it is always fun coming back here, as every time we are here the track is set differently and the vehicles are also updated with latest tech and safety goodies loaded on them.
We had around 8 Range Rover Evoque and Discovery at our disposal for the experience. We were initially given a safety briefing by Ankur Kansal Brand Director for JLR India and Ashish Gupta, Head of Cougar Motorsport, who are the official trainers for the course in India. We were allotted our cars and the trainers who would be accompanying us for the course. The seat and steering for my car was set to my best position, and my trainer Ajith, gave me a quick run down on the various drive modes, off road terrain modes and all the settings that we would be using before the convoy set off for the course.
I was told to maintain at least one car distance between the vehicle ahead of me at all times during the drive. The course started with a steep descent, where we needed to activate the HDC (Hill Descent Control) mode and shift the speed to the lowest, using the cruise control buttons on the steering. In this mode, the vehicle intelligently drives itself down, where it also applies brakes and throttle as needed on its own, the driver only has to control the steering. Noteworthy here is that this mode can be overridden anytime if the throttle or brakes are used. It is magical to see the car drive down the rough terrain on its own, and keeping your feet away from the throttle and brakes takes a little bit of getting used to.
After this we went ahead into the slippery terrain where we had to drive the vehicle maintaining just the right throttle input and not use the brakes. The pre-set modes namely Grass and Gravel, Mud and Ruts, Sand modes etc. were all put in use one by one in due course of time and terrain. Each mode has been tuned very differently, altering the throttle response and traction to the wheels as per the mode and terrain.
The tricky part of the course was crossing a water stream which was deep, so deep, that the entire tyres of the car ahead of us sank in. I had a worrying smile on my face, but my trainer told me not to worry a bit and the Evoque will glide across the water section with super ease due to its 600mm water wading capability and its approach angle of 25 degrees, ramp angle of 21 degrees and departure angle of 31 degrees. Not forgetting the huge ground clearance that the Evoque offers at 212mm.
Those words got me some much needed confidence and I hesitantly got the vehicle into the water very slowly. The trainer was more than correct, the Evoque went across the deep stream of water with extra ease and no jitter at all. At the end of the stream there was a bed of rocks which was also crossed by the Evoque with extreme ease.
My pick of the driving mode was the All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC). In this mode the vehicle goes on total auto mode, except for the steering. The throttle is also controlled entirely by the intelligent brain of this vehicle, so for example, if the front tyre gets stuck on a rock, the engine on its own applies throttle to cross the obstacle. On other instances, if the vehicle is coming down a slope, this drive system on its own applies brakes when needed and gets the vehicle across the obstacle. It felt like there was some eternal force driving the vehicle with extra safety and comfort around the off road track.
The entire course took me around 2 hours to complete, but not a second did the mighty Range Rover Evoque put me in a spot of bother or scare me. The safety gadgetry in the vehicle helped it glide over the difficult terrain with extra ease and in due course boosted my confidence more than ten folds. The Land Rover Above and Beyond Tour does give the brand a very practical and direct stage to showcase its powers of the extremely capable Range Rovers and Land Rovers. I highly recommend doing this course if you want to experience off-roading in super safety, comfort and in Land Rover style.