09 October 2012: Thanks to the lovely team at Autocar, I got a chance to experience the Fortuner Bootcamp 4WD event in Gurgaon last weekend. Organized jointly by Toyota & Autocar, the event gave Fortuner owners an off-road experience on a specially created track that put their 4X4 to test. This was their fourth event after two in Mumbai and one in Bangalore earlier.
|The starting point|
To be honest, I am not the biggest off-roading fan. I did go dune bashing in a Land Cruiser in Dubai once, which was exciting. But driving across a stretch of uncomfortable rugged terrain every weekend as a regular sport isn’t just my idea of fun. Those who do, swear by it. So I guess I will have to wait a few more years to get behind the wheel to really soak in the experience and appreciate this grand art of manliness.
|Obstacles in the specially created track.
The see-saw was the track highlight
For the Gurgaon event, a barren piece of land at Leisure Valley was converted into a challenging off-road obstacle course, that took over 3 days to create. Quite impressively done, the track had a challenging mix of obstacles including axle breakers, big mounts, steep ascends & descends, slush, side inclines, tyres and a giant see-saw ramp, which was the highlight of the track.
I hit the track with Rahul from Autocar, who was behind the wheel. According to him, the Mumbai event at the naturally slushy & rugged terrain off the Western Ghats was quite exciting, since it rains pretty heavily in those parts and that makes off-roaring that much more challenging. I could imagine that the Gurgaon event with it’s artificial track was a bit mellow in comparison.
Comfortable on the inside, the Fortuner displayed some serious off-roading capabilities. Rugged and sturdy, it has a double wishbone front suspension, a 4-link rear suspension and a 3L D-4D engine that churns out an impressive 169 bhp and 343Nm torque @1400-3400 rpm. It overcame most challenges pretty comfortably, except for a brief stop over when our front bumper came off while emerging from the slush. Most customers who own 4X4s, hardly get to experience some of it’s features in cities and suburbs. For instance, the second gear lever for the low range means nothing in cities, but for an off-road enthusiast it is the weapon which makes tackling rough terrain easy. The other important thing about off-roading is speed – the slower you go the better it is. I personally loved it when we did the side incline, where the SUV did a close to 30 degree tilt to the left, before emerging triumphant with the front wheel on the driver’s side about ten inches above ground!
|Raghav Sarma of LTD with Autocar India Editor, Hormazd Sorabjee|
For those who never tested their SUVs under extreme conditions, this was one opportunity to do so with the experts. There were briefing sessions and demo ride with track experts from Autocar who showed them how to use the low range gearbox and the right amount of throttle. Customers were then allowed to take their own car on the track and do some serious off-roading themselves, under expert supervision.
Toyota aims to make this event a regular feature and take it to several other cities as well. So all you Fortuner owners gear up for some 4X4 action. Do take your SUV on to the rough, but remember, never do it alone!
|The after effects|