We humans have a strange fetish for adventure. Even after knowing that, if something goes wrong and we could be severely injured, we leave our comfort zone to push the limits. This pushing of limits gave birth to the off-roading activities on four-wheels which has become a major sport today for the adventure junkies. And who better to cater such audience than the Land Rover itself.
Land Rovers have long been the epitome of fine and refined British engineering with particularly being famous for almost never breaking down, these beauties are sure to stay by your side, robust and faithful. Having heard countless endeavors of people taking their Rovers for a lifetime trip around the world and Jeremy Clarkson’s very open liking to them, it was my turn to find out and was I going to have an experience of a lifetime!
I finally got the chance to test the limits of the world's most loved off-roader at the recently concluded Land Rover experience in Delhi. In the very words of the Land Rover- 'The experience tries to develop your driving skills with expert tuition and helps gain a greater understanding of vehicle control, obstacle handling and how to assess different environments, including navigating steep inclines, descents, side slopes and whatever might keep you from being where you want to be'.
The location was rather uncanny and I was amused to see a barren land amidst high-rise utilized well enough by Land Rover to create a thrilling and adventurous experience. The track was built besides the International airport of Delhi and high above us we could see the planes flying, creating a setting for a perfect drive. I was assigned a blue Freelander 2 for my drive, which was waiting to let me experience the unknown.
Land Rover is immaculate in whatever they do and the Freelander 2 is just one example of it. Beautifully crafted to look like a big-buff SUV without much of sharp-lines that can prove to be an eye-sore, Land Rover managed to build a vehicle which is not only beautiful looking but as rigid as it can be. And we will go a step further to say Land Rover build Tanks not cars, beautiful Tanks! To put things in perspective, Land Rover Freelander2 has a wading depth of 500mm.
Think of Land Rover and instantaneously one thinks of a capable off-roading machine, which is why we went for the Experience driver after all. But off-roading cars have a very peculiar sort of notion attached to them when it comes to interiors. One thinks of a bare minimum cabin with no modern gadgets and amenities, made to withstand forces the car suffers. But, Land Rover has a different plan for the Freelander 2 altogether. The interiors are as good as any other luxury car which can be used in day-to-day life with loads of gadgets and features to make you comfortable. Thumbs up to Land Rover for creating a truly luxurious off-roader!
Engine and Performance
Even though we couldn't take the SUV out for a spin on a highway to realize how well it handles on tarmac and high speeds, we are pretty much impressed with what this SUV can do in tough terrains. The mammoth SUV is powered by a 2.2 litre in-line, four cylinder, common rail, turbocharged diesel engine capable of producing 190ps @ 3,500rpm and 420Nm @1740rpm. If you understand the game of rpm and torque, you must have realized by now, how much detailing has Land Rover has given to the engine. This much torque at such low rpm lets the Freelander 2 conquer any possible terrain without losing much of breadth.
But how does Land-Rover achieve all these feats? Merely saying that Land Rovers are the toughest vehicles around won't justify the amount of hard work the British automaker put in to manufacturer every single piece of these SUVs. Apart from a rigid chassis, a lot depends on the electronic equipments that control the movement of these cars around tough terrain.
The true test of Traction Control
Some of these gadgets which we utilized during our stint with the Freelander 2 are the undermentioned-
- Hill Descent Control
- Terrain Response System
- Traction Control System
While the Traction Control System is a standard device that controls the power sent to the wheels according to need or traction, it is the Land Rover’s Terrain Response System and the Hill Descent Control that helps the SUV stand tall no matter how tough the terrain is. The Terrain Response System is capable to choose the terrain type on which SUV is moving - Grass, Gravel & Snow, Mud & Ruts and Sand.
Terrain Control System
The system when combined with Hill descent control offers unmatched capabilities to the SUV. The combination of brakes, acceleration (which you can choose through cruise control) and traction control, combinedly lets the car to move on any type of terrain. For our drive, we mostly stuck to the Grass and Gravel & Snow settings, since our terrain was full of gravel over various inclinations. The system electronically controls the wheelspin and doesn't let the SUV slide down in any possible way.
Hill Descent Control
Complimenting the Terrain Response System was the Freelander 2’s Hill Descent Control (HDC). With a touch of a button, one can bring the system to life and then control the speed through steering mounted controls. How good is the HDC of Land Rover can be judged by the fact that my instructor, during a steep descent asked me to leave break and accelerator and let Freelander2 drive itself down safely, which she did beautifully.
While I am sitting here writing about my experience with the Land Rover, my heart is skipping a beat every time I am thinking about the terrains I conquered that day. A big thanks to my instructor from Cougar Motorsports who asked me to get down and have a look at the cars doing what I did without even realizing how difficult it was for a normal vehicle or an off-roader per se.
A muddy affair needs a wash afterall!
Our advice - if you are looking to travel the length and breadth of India, let alone the globe, look no further ahead of a Land Rover or a Freelander2 (to be precise). It will make your journey, a journey of lifetime since no land will be unconquered and no corner untouched.