Jaguar Land Rover India has been organizing Land Rover Experience drives across the country since some time now. It is at these drives that a Land Rover owner or a prospective owner can experience the real abilities of the mighty SUVs. The latest edition of the Land Rover Experience was held at 19 Degrees North, near Aamby Valley, Lonavala.
Driving the Land Rovers in everyday conditions is routine stuff for all.. it is here on this super-amazing off-road track that you get the real taste of what the Land Rover brand is all about. We were super excited when the invite for this drive reached us. We reached 19 Degrees North with a cloudy and overcast weather to welcome us. Rains were expected and we did experience some showers on our way up the Amby Valley ghats. Ten Land Rover Discovery Sport were waiting for us just as we entered the venue.
A pre-drive briefing from the off-road experts was given, where minute details of the vehicle, the track and driving conditions, along with safety pointers to be followed were explained to us. As excited as kids, we walked towards our red Discovery Sport that was waiting for us. Every car gets an expert off-roading instructor from Cougar Motorsport who helps navigate and also keep a tab on the driver to see ensure that the drive experience goes smoothly.
First things first, I was shown by my instructor the perfect seat setting and the steering adjust best suited for the off-road drive ahead. Just as we were flagged off, the rain gods decided to come down, this made the track conditions extreme wet and a lot more slippery. The track consists of many descents, climbs, large craters, slush, flowing river section, grassy patches, rocks, shrubs, etc. We had to conquer this off-road terrain using the advanced Terrain Response System that comes on all Land Rover SUVs. This super advanced system has preset modes – General Driving, Mud and Ruts, Gravel and Grass, Snow and Sand.
To start off we had to go downhill and this meant engaging the Hill Descent Control mode, where you need to set the speed to the minimum. In this mode the car moves down the slope at the preset speed, brakes are applied separately to each wheel on its own and the driver has to keep his foot off the brake pedal to simply steer, keeping an eye on the terrain. The intelligent system senses the descent angle and applies the brakes and traction to the tyres on its own not allowing the SUV to slip off. It was a bit difficult to keep the foot off the brake paddle initially due to human reflex, but once the confidence built up, the foot remained off and the Discovery Sport worked on its own to climb down the wet slope.
After that came an extreme left turn that had to be maneuvered with some finesse. A long rocky and muddy narrow path followed this and we shifted to Mud and Ruts Drive Terrain mode. We were given constant instructions by the expert instructor who supervised how we were going about handling the tricky track. A bumpy grass section was a perfect place to shift to Grass and Gravel mode where the Terrain Response took over and ensured that the SUV did not slip or sway.
The tricky section was an extremely sharp turn on a slope that too on a very narrow approach. The Discovery Sport stuck to its ground though the terrain was wet and slippery, and we made it through with ease with all systems supporting us in process. Another interesting and very exciting section was an extreme slope down a hill. It was here that the road ahead was not seen at all due to the high incline level and you need to leave everything to the system to take over and just focus on the steering. The anxious look on our faces turned into a smile as we saw how confidently the Discovery Sport reached the end of the slope braking and transferring power to the tyres as needed on its own. We had a short break at this point when we stepped out in the middle of the jungle and enjoyed the moment.
We got back into the vehicles for the last leg and the very next patch was a river crossing. Now the Discovery Sport has a water wading capability of 600mm and the river crossing ahead was an easy task for it though it looked deep and tricky to us before we crossed it. On the way back we went through a lot of other terrain that included uphill, downhill, sideward slope, patches with large potholes and rocks which showcased the real capabilities of why the Land Rover is a very respected off-roading vehicle balancing with safety and comfort aspects too.
The trail ended after driving almost 1.5 hours around this amazing and tricky track. Before the drive we were not so very confident, but now that we had conquered the track with ease our confidence level was sky high mainly due to the ability of the Land Rover Discovery Sport shining through. The technology in the Land Rover Discovery Sport is like having an expert driver sitting next to you at all times.
Understanding the Terrain Response Modes on the Land Rover Discovery Sport
General Mode: For normal driving conditions. The Dynamic stability control is active with the engine, gearbox and throttle, giving a smooth response for daily driving conditions.
Dynamic Mode: Perfect for sporty on-road driving. In this mode the throttle response is sharper, gear shift happens at high revs and the dampers make sure that the car feels planted on the road.
Grass, Gravel and Snow: Dynamic stability control helps tyres to avoid slipping on low grip terrain in this mode. Gearbox manages lower engine revs with soft response from the throttle.
Hill Descent Control (HDC): In this mode the vehicle goes down a slope terrain at a preset desired speed with brakes engaging independently on wheels as needed toavoiding slipping.
Sand: In this mode the engine revs higher and engine response is aggressive. Gearbox holds the shifts longer to keep the revs up. All this help in keeping the handling agile in sand.
Mud and Ruts: Vehicle progresses slowly, any loss of grip is compensated, and traction control is active. This is also the ideal mode for river wading.
Land Rover Off Road Experience Drive Photo Gallery:
Pics shot by Dr. Anand Narvekar