4x4s ~ Greatest Vehicles

Friday, 2 September 2011


Most performance enthusiasts agree that 4x4s are slow, unrefined and burn diesel. But there is no discounting the fact that off-roading is the ultimate male ego booster.  The feeling of conquering hostile terrain resembling an alien planet surface is hard to come by though a heady blast down your neighbourhood highway in what one thinks is a fast car comes close. There is more fun to be had at crawling speed on dirt trails than doing high speeds on level tarmac. 
The Mahindra Great Escape held at Mandawa, in the land of the royals Rajasthan, was as absolute hoot often at less than walking pace. Mandawa is 190km away from the capital city Jaipur. The town is known mostly for its forts and havelis (mansions). This was the first time the Great Escape was held at Mandawa. This edition featured a total of 50 vehicles with 150 participants including drivers, navigators and passengers. 
As the regulars would know, the event is non-competitive and more about having fun while traversing what looks like seemingly unconquerable terrain. The challenging 35km route went through Mandawa’s tough terrain including steep sand dunes, narrow trails and specially made off-road tracks. There was nothing that locked diffs and four-wheel drive couldn’t manage however. The entourage of participating vehicles was a dream for any 4x4 lover, from Mahindra’s limited run Legend to Boleros and Scorpios. Also making its presence felt was a prototype Xylo mini with four-wheel drive. The star of the show was however Mahindra’s newest off-roader, the Thar. 

Participants assembled early in the morning for a driver briefing by Hari Singh. The trail kicked off around 9:30 in the morning, after a flag-off which signaled the beginning off jeep territory by parting with the tarmac. The kaleidoscopic convoy of the rugged off-road Mahindra machinery surely but slowly snaked through some breathtaking trails. The trail consisted of several uphill tracks as well as steep drops. Our vehicle of choice was the Mahindra Thar. With very little effort the Thar could easily climb up long uphill trails with the transfer case lever slotted in four-wheel high. I have driven the Thar on-road but the vehicle shines on off-road terrain and is very easy to maneuver due to its short dimensions and power steering. The CRDe engine combined with a new chassis makes the Thar a capable off-roader. We drove through the entire trail with no hiccups. This year’s Great Escape even featured an autocross with everybody driving the Mahindra Thar. The quickest around the lap was the winner. OVERDRIVE lost first position by just 0.60 second and settled with being second quickest.

More swanky and groomed metrosexuals may call off-roading a non-gentlemanly sport, but hey who gives er, truck. For the offroading junkies, it is the ultimate addictive high. The rush lasted for close to five hours which left us weary but asking for more. So all of you off-roading junkies, just bide your time and wait for the next Mahindra Great Escape


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