Friday, September 26, 2014

Jaguar Land Rover Offroad Experience

Thursday 18 Sep 2014
It was evening. I was back to home from my office. As usual it was time to beat the tiredness. What I usually do? After a refresh, turn on the Music on the home PC, hear some melodies. This usually goes for half an hour after which I move on to other routine.

But on Thursday evening, as I was switching on my home PC, my phone ringed. The person on the other end was Shrinidhi, my long time blogger friend. "Hey, are you free this Sunday, 21 Sep? Jaguar Land Rover is sprucing out an Offroading Experience." And, this was a music, more interesting, than what I was going to hear in my home PC!!

"Yeah!! " said me. Offroading that too on a luxury SUV!! I replied him that I would be there for sure. Then the process started with couple of calls and emails from Blogadda who are coordinating the bloggers coming for this event.

The event happened on Sunday afternoon. We needed to be there by 12.00 noon, start with the lunch and go on with the off roading event.

Shrinidhi, Ashwini and myself were to go in a cab for the event venue. We fixed 11.30 a.m. as the the ample time to catch up together at Shollinganallur junction on the ECR and continue the journey in a cab and reach "The Farm" a specialty restaurant at Semmancherry Village on the OMR in Chennai.

Sunday 21 Sep 2014
Yours truly started off from Cuddalore by 7.30 a.m. While I crossed past Pondicherry, I confirmed my coordinates to Shrinidhi.

As planned, I joined Shrinidhi and Ashwini awaiting with the Innova cab exactly at 11.30 a.m. at Shollinganallur ECR junction and we all started off to "The Farm" the venue for the Jaguar Land Rover Experience.

As we already planned, we were on time. We arrived at 12.00 noon.

As we entered into the precincts of the restaurant there was a big change in the scenario. The environment did not seem to be a "buzzing Chennai" but an ever green atmosphere prevailed around. After a photograph, we went in, to join the folks of the JLR India as well as Blogadda.

After a few minutes of getting introduced with the people, I was in for a surprise to meet Tinu Cherian. I have felt his online presence, more than once, be it twitter or facebook through retweets made by others. Met him for the first time. Happenings like this do get me joy which are hard to forget in life. Its a first meeting him.

We all then had some fruit juice. The previous session of off roading was going on. We were told that The Land Rovers have gone into the off roading terrain, which is nearby and should be in the middle of the session. We understood that, it would take more than half hour for the session to end. It was felt that we all can go and have a look.

So, we all went in to the big private farm land by walk...

The big farm land spruced up on more than 60 acres.

There was a big water pool and we got to see a Land Rover entering into it.

It was interesting to see the big SUVs in action at such challenging conditions. The vehicles then went into a bit far place. So we came back to our restaurant area.

An ambulance along with a doctor was available throughout the event. The JLR folks need to be saluted for taking so much of care for their creed.

Pizzas were served hot, we finished our lunch and were ready for our driving session.

The experience was facilitated by Cougar Motorsports, specialists in OffRoad events in India, from "Tata Motors Full Throttle" to "The Himalayan Dash".  After lunch, briefing session by experts from Cougar  as well as JLR started off.

We were explained of the advanced features of the Rovers. We were in for a surprise to know that the vehicle has features such as Hill Descent Control - prevents the machine from slipping / skidding due to hard braking while going downhill. Another control - Terrain Response - can change throttle response and a million other parameters based on the terrain such as sand, rock etc..,

Clear instruction were given to us. As each car was driven by us, there would be an expert driver sitting on the left seat. We should follow our instructor’s command to the letter, if we don’t, the drive experience was bound to be taken over by the expert. Ofcourse, all of us enjoyed the drive, no one was taken off.

We were in for a surprise to have Mr.Vicky Chandok, the scion in the Indian Motor Sports scenario. He too explored the off road terrain during the event along with his son Suhail Chandok. It was great time to bump with him here through the LandRoverExperience.

There were 7 SUVs ranging from Land Rover, Land Rover 2, to Range Rover. There were 7 explorers. Each of us were assigned a vehicle along with an expert driver. The people were assigned sequentially from car number 1. But as all the people got off their chairs and went off, I was the only one to be seated and waiting to be called out.

 Ofcourse, I was the last one to be assigned. 

I was the last driver in the convoy. It was a surprise that a top of the class Range Rover Evoque came in for me. 

Sitting inside the cabin, a surprise was that, there was no key below the steering wheel. There was no gear Lever. There was no Clutch. Only two pedals were there - Brake and Accelerator. A rotatory knob on the panel in the left, sufficed a gear lever. A small switch near the knob sufficed the hand brake lever. I was then given instruction to press the left pedal "Brake" with my foot, then press "Start" with my hand. The Rover roared in some sweet music. 

The convoy started off. After driving the RangeRover on the pits and small mounds, the big water pool came in. There were clear instruction on how to take this nearly 5 foot deep water pool. As we needed to drive on a nearly 200 feet long periphery of the pool, it was a quite challenge. As I was guided to turn accordingly along the periphery of the pool, I drove it without any hiccups. 

So far I have been in some car or even bus, plying above stagnant water pools,  I would be sitting inside it though. Water would be splashing off to heights in some rare cases. That looked cool. All those experience was just for a short length of 10 or 15 feet. But not this long.

But, now, I am driving the vehicle and the water is nearer to my hip level on the outside, as I was inside of this RangeRover. 

As my vehicle was into the pool, till the water is 2 feet deep, I was in as usual. But, as the depth increased, the SUV seemed not to be driven but seemed to be sailing. 

I was awestruck a bit on what will happen if water entered to the insides of the cabin. I had brought a spare set of clothes though, my usual practice, whenever I go in for any off roading. But, nothing bad happened. Not a drop of water creeped insides the cabin. ENGINEERING MARVEL!!

After the car was driven to the plains, I was instructed to open the doors, to feel the amount of water that have come in. Some 2 litres of water came out from the insides of each of the doors on the right side. After all the water seeped out, I was instructed to start the journey further.

The next trail was a mud slush. Then a mound came in. Then came a slush. The vehicle was put in different modes. All the controls were taken care of by the computers in the vehicle. Barely the skill of the driver is put into play.

Then there was a stretch which was bit longer and I got the chance to push the accelerator bit harder. It was a good experience. There was another descending mound to be taken now. This was a bit challenging one and so it took more time for the three vehicles before me to queue out.

So far so good, I was rotating the pod in the vehicle to "Drive" and moving the vehicle as needed. Whenever the vehicle wants to be stopped for a long time, I switched the pod to "Parking" and waited. So, I was in the "Parking" mode for a longer time. Since I was the last man in the convoy, a fire lit in me. Why not try "Reverse"? I asked my instructor. He nodded. I then turned the knob to "R" and drove the RangeRover for some twenty feet in the reverse. Ofcourse I was the only person in the group who roved the Evoque in the reverse. A gift for this last man in the convoy!!

Then the Queue in the front had moved out. It was my turn. After climbing down the last mound we came back to the starting point.

Since the RangeRover experience was so awesome, I missed to take a selfie. There was also an instruction to not use our cameras while driving. So, after coming back to the start point, I got my instructor to click me a pic. But, there was a two wheeler guy who was honking continuously from behind. So was the result in my facial expression. After moving the vehicle a bit, he went off, I was bit relieved. My instructor took the vehicle as I came out.

We came back to the venue, filled in our feedback and started off...

This was the fare well click for we the bloggers. The session meant for us was over. But, just having finished our driving, me and Shrinidhi felt something missing. We have never clicked the action packed Rovers to our appetite.

We asked the JLR folks for taking us in some other vehicles during the next session. There was communication back and forth, in the end, we realized that we can't be accommodated in the vehicles. 

We were also told that we can venture into the terrain and do our photography. So we two ventured once again into the terrain to click the next batch of explorers who came in driving into terrain.

The line up of the Land Rover India SUVs for the next batch to set sail into the off road terrain

The pit to test the capability of the SUVs
 The marshals awaiting for the next batch to come into the terrain for the offroading.

The first sight of the Rovers coming in to the offroad terrain.

Rover on its three... !!

 The smoke from the vehicle bubbles out of the water.

This is the steep mound with loose mud. The car has a Hill Descent Control to overtake the braking done by the driver. In case the driver over steps the brake pedal, the computer takes control and prevents a skid.

It was a great time seeing all these advanced machines in action under controlled environment. Learnt a bit of intricacies in these machines. 

By end of day, me and Shrinidhi left in the taxi. I got dropped at Shollinganallur junction and caught a bus to Cuddalore. Reached home by 10.00 p.m.

Here is a video made by Shrinidhi...

Don't miss some more interesting photos at my FaceBook album here

A great experience. 
Thanks JLR, Thank you Shrinidhi, Thank you Blogadda.


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John Peter said...

Nice one srini ji, thats the RR Evoque you drive isn't it?

John Peter said...

Nice one srini ji, thats the RR Evoque you drive isn't it?

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