A late Saturday night followed by really a late and languid Sunday brunch is what a good weekend means to us most of the times, but this Sunday was an early rising working day at Indian Autos Blog, if you would call making a 4x4's nose disappear under water as work!
Off roading always makes for pure thrill and adrenalin rush and when Tata Motors invited us for the Chennai edition of the Full Throttle trails, Indian Autos Blog's Managing Editor Shrawan Raja and myself were delighted to be there.
The Full Throttle series engages with Tata SUV owners and gives them a chance to appreciate the capabilities of their cars. The event kindles the off road enthusiast in you.
After breakfast, driver briefing and scrutiny by FMSCI officials, the convoy of SUVs set out on the highway to take on the challenges that are awaiting us in a farm. Our steed for the day was a 4x4 Tata Safari.
The Safari started with a soft and extremely loose sand trail with no problems whatsoever. The SUV ambled along effortlessly even with the 4x4 system disengaged but the sheer boost to the car's confidence once the power is transmitted to all the four wheels can't be missed.
So, the first challenge (not really a challenge for the Safari but it was - to some extent - for the two wheel drive Sumos and Arias) was done and dusted and the second one involved a vast stretch of water.
As much as we couldn't wait to put the Safari to the swimming test, we were cautious since getting stuck in the middle of the course means we can't even get out of the vehicle until the help arrives. It's to be mentioned that the two wheel drive Aria which was first to set the foot into the water waded through without any external help which pumped our confidence level. Kudos to the driver!
The recipe was actually pretty simple but there was absolutely no room for error. Engage the four wheel drive low (4L) mode, approach the pond gingerly and keep the throttle steady as if your right foot is a statue. As the bonnet slowly goes out of the sight, pray that your throttle foot doesn't itch or twitch!
Image Courtesy - Tata Motors
The adrenal glands started their work. After few more moments of holding the breath and resisting the temptation of steering towards the nearest piece of land, the nose of the Safari started reappearing and seconds later, we were out of the pond with a wide grin.
The next challenge was to drive over a series of logs lined up on a muddy track. This is where the true advantage of the four wheel drive came into play. This challenge proved a bit too much for the rear wheel drive cars which felt humbled and couldn't clear the course without external motivation.
Our Safari 4x4 on the other hand, ran over the logs with a gait of an overexcited toddler. All you need to do is, again ensure that you are in 4L mode and give it a steady throttle. And yes, do not hold the steering firmly (keeping the hands away from the steering is even better) as you run over the logs, since an unexpected and brutal kickback would snap your wrists!
Image Courtesy - Tata Motors
A very steep incline layered with soft sand was next which again proved to be a herculean task for two wheel drive cars. An innocent rear drive Aria injured its bumper while attempting to surmount the hump and was winched away with a bruised ego. The helpless Sumos also met the same fate, however all our Safari needed was a lungful of throttle.
Marking the end of our off road outing was a slush course which was rather slippery but wouldn't pose any issues as long as you stay soft and steady on the gas pedal.
Throughout the day, the Safari never seemed unsettled and we couldn't wait to do some serious off roading in the new Safari Storme which is 2.5 times stiffer than the old Safari!
After the thrilling experience, we are convinced that off roading can be massive fun but at the same time realized how indispensable is the the four wheel drive system. As they say when the going gets tough, only the tough gets going!
So it was indeed a Sunday well spent!