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Old 1st August 2016, 17:06   #1
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Default Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

The phone is ringing unusually early today. I'm still sleepy in the head and I could do with some more sleep, a lot more actually. Within a couple of moments which are similar to passing the grand stand straight at the BIC in a certain Jaguar XKR, the plan for the day flashes through my sleepy head. It's Friday, it's the day of the Land Rover Experience, it's the day I'd pop my off-roading cherry .

I hurriedly swipe the screen to answer the call and as expected, it is reconfirmation call from the driver assigned to ferry me through the day. Heading out early to the highway on a typical Bombay monsoon morning is almost always sweet, it only gets better when you know you're heading to 19 degree north at Aamby Valley for what is perceived to be a super fun experience.
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09685-large.jpg

No matter how many times one may have driven around the loop, each drive to Aamby Valley is always a special one. Even if you are riding shotgun in a minivan.

It has been pouring for the last few days and we keep driving in and out of fog:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09690-large.jpg

Just about half an hour into the picturesque drive we arrived at the venue for the event, 19 degree north at the Aamby Valley:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09694-large.jpg

Registration for the event was super quick. Brief details taken down, indemnity forms signed, it's all set:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09705-large.jpg

We're offered a set of bands, white for the drivers and black for the accompanying passenger:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09880-large.jpg

It's just about anybody's guess what band I was going to be sporting for the rest of the day
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09715-large.jpg

All nicely banded I sat around not doing much. Having watched the video footage set on continuous playback a couple of times already and stared myself silly at the neighbouring mountains I wondered what to do next as the Land Rovers were not in sight:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09713-large.jpg

Given the advances in the camera on current day mobile phones, I barely spend any time with my trusty old Sony camera. Some catching up was long overdue I guess:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09696-large.jpg

Better shot eh?
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09726-large.jpg

A few minutes into the self-imposed camera improvement skills program, a few cars showed up. An Evoque followed by Discovery Sports had returned from their playground. The wait was not going to be much longer:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09722-large.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2016 at 17:08.
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Old 1st August 2016, 17:06   #2
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The Land Rover Experience event is organised by Land Rover India for its prospective and existing owners. The event is managed and run by India's leading Off-road Expedition factory, Cougar Motorsport of RFC fame. Similar to our homegrown Off-road Junkies, Cougar Motorsport with its team of instructors and other experts is Land Rover's managing partner for the event.
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09757-large.jpg

The rest of the Land Rover Experience convoy starts showing up and are assembling at starting point of the track, getting ready to go back in the mini forest to live into their element:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09736-large.jpg

Almost all the cars are back. Photographers are in full swing, there is not much time that can be wasted and in such a beautiful setting it is difficult for the perfectionists to be satisfied with the average good shots. Meanwhile poor mortals like me have resigned to our fate by being satisfied with these
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09775-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09743-large.jpg

Ashish Gupta of Cougar Motorsports briefed us about the track, the cars and most importantly the basic track etiquette expected at the event:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09769-large.jpg
  • Mobiles to be kept on silent mode, preferably even switched off even for passengers in order to minimize any distraction to the driver or the instructor.
  • Seat belts compulsory for drivers and passengers due to extremely rough and bumpy terrain.
  • Children below 12 years of age not permitted for the experience due to non-suitability of seat belt at ideal position.
  • No unplanned exits from the vehicle unless the instructor asks the respective driver and passengers to step out.
  • Any serious medical condition to be informed to the team prior to the start of the drive.

Shortly after the drive briefing we were assigned a car and an instructor. The drive was to last 45 minutes to an hour varying with performance of the entire convoy through the course. It was one single drive and I am glad I had stated my preference for the Evoque at time of registration

Despite the marginally extra ground clearance on the Discovery sport, the two cars are mechanically identical, but when you have only one shot, whatdaheck it has got to be special:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09750-large.jpg

Meet Uday, my instructor for the drive. Super skill set, efficient and extremely focused:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09773-large.jpg

Waiting it out for the Discovery we were supposed to follow to start on the trail:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09777-large.jpg

Notice the extra safe distance to be maintained between cars whilst on the trail in order to budget for re-approaching an obstacle, provision for rescue vehicle, etc:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09778-large.jpg

Never a wrong time to pose in an Evoque
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09783-large.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2016 at 17:08.
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Old 1st August 2016, 17:06   #3
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Terrain Response System
The biggest difference between driving on the regular road and off-road is the struggle for traction. Terrain Response System was invented by Land Rover and is now equipped on their entire product range currently on sale. The mode selector located just below the autobox lever has namely 4 modes - General Program, Grass Gravel & Snow, Mud & Ruts and Sand. The mode can be selected by switching between the four tabs using the side indicated arrow keys:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09781-large.jpg

Terrain Response System is similar to having an expert off-road instructor sitting in the car with you and once you switch the program to another mode, it changes the setup of the vehicle in order to assist you in the selected terrain. For example, selecting Grass Gravel & Snow mode, the system senses the slipperiness of the surface and switches the car into 2nd gear in order to avoid wheel spin due to excess torque in the 1st gear. The shifting of the gears too is controlled by the Terrain Response System, so in sand mode the gearbox would hold to a gear for relatively longer interval in order to gain certain momentum and then shift into the next gear:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09828-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09829-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09830-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09831-large.jpg

Hill Descent Control
The Evoque and the Discovery Sport are equipped with hill descent control system. It is extremely handy when going down a slippery slope. Typically, we rely on our brakes for slowing down and occasionally we'd have a wheel lock up resulting in downward slide.

The hill descent control needs to be switched on manually but later works by itself, the speed needs to be set using the cruise control button to a minimum (range being 5 to 20 kmph):
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09832-large.jpg

The system itself senses loss of traction and applies brakes on individual wheels and keeps the vehicle motion in check:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09802-large.jpg

Using manual brakes simply overrides the hill descent system and the vehicle continues to proceed in its gradual approach as the brake pedal is released.

Hill Start Assist
Many times, while going up a slope we have to stop for plenty of reasons and moving again the vehicle starts sliding back making us struggle between the accelerator, brake, hand brake, etc. The Hill Start Assist program comes on by itself at this instance and holds the vehicle stationary for 3 seconds giving enough time to get into motion after releasing the brake.

Electronic Traction Control
There are instances where we end up having zero traction and the wheel continues to spin. In an otherwise normal car we'd be royally stuck as torque takes the path of least resistance, so when it realizes that this wheel is spinning all the power comes towards this traction-less wheel. The electronic traction control system comes on by itself, senses loss of complete traction, applies a brake on that wheel, drive returns to the other wheels in order to get you traction and moving again.

Dynamic Stability Control
The dynamic stability control is always on and is suitable for off-road as well as urban commute. Taking a corner for example at high speed, the car may lose traction and start sliding. The dynamic stability control system recognizes that and immediately results in cutting power to the engine, applies brakes and brings the car back into control.

Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2016 at 17:11.
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Old 1st August 2016, 17:06   #4
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Going into the Mud & Ruts mode...
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09830-large.jpg

... and making good use of it!
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09792-large.jpg

Despite not having any raised height abilities as their more expensive cousins, the cars did not end up scraping too much thanks to their suitably designed approach and departure angles through the natural trail chalked out by the Cougar team.

Setting into the Hill Descent mode needs a lot of trust on the vehicle and your instructor. Whilst watching the car from outside may not exhibit the seriousness of the obstacle, believe my sweaty palms, goosebumps, overclocked state of mind are few things that still come to my mind. Meanwhile, the cars engaged with the right hardware and even more versatile software made this look like a walk in the park.

We were not allowed any intermediate stops through the course besides the one dedicated half way point to reassembly whilst the rest of the convoy completed their obstacles:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09796-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09799-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09800-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09806-large.jpg

All the convoy cars were equipped with stock tires and they seemed to perform really well for the natural course Cougar's team had chalked out. Notably, there were no flats or sidewall damages reported through the trail by any of the cars in the convoy:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09815-large.jpg

Engaging the Grass, Gravel & Snow mode, it was now time to go back up the incline. This was easily one of the most exciting obstacles, towards the end of the incline we were looking skyward, and simultaneously we had turn in from the most extreme point on the left side where the marshal was stationed:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09833-large.jpg

Despite being driven by one of the Cougar Motorsport expert instructors, the Discovery Sport we were following failed to make it to the top twice:


Later we found out that traction control system on the vehicle had packed up, as on another obstacle the same car had a free spinning wheel which should have not happened with a working traction control system which would have otherwise applied resistance accordingly and sent power to the other 3 wheels. Too bad I could not get video footage of that.

With all the skill and experience of the instructor, the Discovery Sport made it to the top in its third attempt:


The Discovery Sport's failed attempts were a blessing in disguise for me. While closely watching the failed attempts, I had gathered the exact point of throttling out and turning it, add to that the systems on the Evoque assigned to me were in top trim helping us clear the obstacle in first attempt

Getting back to ground zero meant we were through with the trail and it was time for refreshments and farewell. Due to the rain showers the trail had gotten more slippery (read more fun) and our convoy took close to 90 minutes for the entire trail compared to the initially budgeted 45-60 minutes:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09842-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09850-large.jpg

The Land Rover Experience convoy assembled for the next group of participants:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09852-large.jpg

Parting shot of my off-roading cherry popper
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09846-large.jpg

Spotted outside the venue, look who's been waiting outside to get down and dirty:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-dsc09855-large.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2016 at 17:10.
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Old 1st August 2016, 17:06   #5
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Media shots from the JLR team for the wallpaper suckers

Hill Descent mode captured in action:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-land-rover-experience-aamby-valley-2-large.jpg
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-land-rover-experience-aamby-valley-4-large.jpg

Mud & Ruts with Traction Control kicking in:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-land-rover-experience-aamby-valley-5-large.jpg

Still engaged in Mud & Ruts the Discovery Sport shows off its 600 mm wading capabilities:
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-land-rover-experience-aamby-valley-7-large.jpg

The Line-up!
Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley-land-rover-experience-aamby-valley-8-large.jpg

Disclaimer: Land Rover invited Team-BHP for the 4x4 event. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by Aditya : 1st August 2016 at 17:11.
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Old 1st August 2016, 17:14   #6
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the 4x4 Excursions Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd August 2016, 19:31   #7
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

Wow. That is an amazing report on a vehicle that seems perfect for you.

Any plans to take up off roading as a regular hobby.
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Old 3rd August 2016, 17:03   #8
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

What a perfect vehicle to pop your off-roading cherry in.
Thanks for the writeup, manson.

When viewed front on, its amazing how much of the looks they have carried over from the Evoque to the Discovery Sport.
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Old 3rd August 2016, 19:27   #9
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

Awesome report and clicks. Good to see that more and more such events are being organised by the companies. Wish the eastern part of India could generate the revenue so that the companies would showcase these events here as well.
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Old 3rd August 2016, 19:27   #10
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
Any plans to take up off roading as a regular hobby.
Its a classic catch 22 situation, using a high end vehicle like the above Land Rovers will cause infinite heartburn over each scrape, and the lesser equipped bare bones Jeep & Gypsies are not the safest for such activity. I particularly remember reconfirming the presence of a side curtain airbag on an obstacle that we were to take at 45 degrees tilt, so I'd safely say I'm not ready for it just yet.

Alternately, I do consider having the above fancy electronic modes a boon for real life conditions such as in our country where we are used to getting the unexpected over the less frequented state highways or village roads, so while I may not venture out locating obstacles the vehicle can clear, I'd be happy to clear them if they showed up in my path.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post

When viewed front on, its amazing how much of the looks they have carried over from the Evoque to the Discovery Sport.
You could say that again!! Being a novice around the high end brigade, for the first few minutes into the pictures I had to to double check the hood decal for which of the two was clicking.
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Old 5th August 2016, 11:13   #11
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

Nice report Manson. Looks like you enjoyed a lot. Missed this event else we would have crossed paths

Quote:
Originally Posted by manson View Post
Terrain Response System
=========
Terrain Response System is similar to having an expert off-road instructor sitting in the car with you and once you switch the program to another mode, it changes the setup of the vehicle in order to assist you in the selected terrain.
What a beauty this Terrain Response is. The vehicle setup completely changes just at a flick of a button. A boon and takes the complexity away from drivers. As a driver, you just focus on the driving and the vehicle will ensure that you have the best setup for that terrain.

Quote:
Hill Descent Control
=======
The hill descent control needs to be switched on manually but later works by itself, the speed needs to be set using the cruise control button to a minimum (range being 5 to 20 kmph):
Actually, for most modes, the HDC is enabled by default -- for example in Mud & Ruts it's on by default. You can switch it off if you want.



Quote:
Originally Posted by manson View Post
....
Alternately, I do consider having the above fancy electronic modes a boon for real life conditions such as in our country where we are used to getting the unexpected over the less frequented state highways or village roads, so while I may not venture out locating obstacles the vehicle can clear, I'd be happy to clear them if they showed up in my path. .
YES!! These vehicles are not meant to do serious off-road like gypsy/jeeps etc. These are VERY capable vehicles who will take you to places where normal cars can't. If you happen to be stuck and need to get off the highway into the fields then you know you can do it. If you get into rural broken roads, water logged streets, you know you can do it in a safe & composed manner.
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Old 6th August 2016, 12:16   #12
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Default Re: Offroading with the Evoque & Discovery Sport at Aamby Valley

You are one lucky guy Manson! It would've been a great experience for you.

As I was going through the thread, I was actually expecting more videos. Mind sharing here if you've those?

Does the multi-link rear end in DS offers better axle articulation than Evoque?

I happen to be an owner of a DS and haven't really enjoyed the way you managed to venture off the beaten path in a day.
Any suggestions on how to please moderators to get such invites?
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