FIRST DRIVE – 2020 FORD ENDEAVOUR

Last weekend I got an invite to go Dune bashing in Jaisalmer with the 2020 Endeavour from Ford India. Jaisalmer also called “The Golden City” stands on a ridge of yellowish substance and is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort. This town lies in the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.Snapseed 2The drive from the airport to the Jaisalmer Marriot was just a little under 30 minutes. Roads in Rajasthan are without a doubt amongst the best in the country. As we entered the compound of the Jaisalmer Marriot one spotted the 2020 Ford Endeavour, an SUV that has a huge fan base in India.

The 2020 Endeavour has been updated to meet the BSVI norms coming into effect in April 2020. The first thing visible as you walk towards the front of the Endeavour is the all new full LED headlamp cluster. They offer a wider and longer throw over the previous model. One sees a larger chrome laden grille which works perfectly well with the diffused silver paint scheme of the Endeavour we were driving.IMG_4639IMG_4709The Endeavour has always been known for clean lines running across with an upright high stance. These changes while enhancing the appeal add to the timeless design of this SUV.

Under the hood one gets a 2.0 litre Ecoblue turbocharged diesel engine which is BSVI compliant. This engine is more fuel-efficient, with reduced emissions. The Ecoblue engine continues the legacy of Endeavour’s benchmark fun-to-drive credentials, delivering 170 PS peak power and 420 Nm peak torque.IMG_4708IMG_4707Now it was time to experience first-hand the sheer refinement and power this 2020 Ford Endeavour had to offer on our drive to Sam’s Dunes in Jaisalmer. For the 1st 50 odd kilometres of our drive we were driving on flat straight roads. The Endeavour is quick of the blocks and before you know it are already touching triple digit speeds. The 2020 Endeavour comes with the world’s first 10 speed torque convertor. The transmission is extremely intuitive, upshifts and downshifts happen very smoothly.IMG_4706nm0a4213Ford offers a function called Select Shift that makes it possible to skip through gears while accelerating or braking ensuring there’s enough power on tap available to the driver. This gearbox also helps in improving fuel efficiency significantly. There’s also a sport mode on offer that helps in holding on the revs for longer.

The handling and suspension of this car has always been top notch. This new update still sees the Endeavour handle all sorts of road surfaces and conditions with ease.  The Endeavour is known for its sharp handling, which is evident when you throw into corners, while doing quick lane changes. The Endeavour also comes with the Ford Pass suite of connected car features across the whole Endeavour range.nm0a3636Now it was time to get off the tarmac and go off roading in Sam’s Dunes. Sam’s Dunes is one of the most authentic desert dune sites in India, where one will find 30 to 60 meter tall sand dunes. This was the perfect location to enjoy everything that the Endeavour had to offer. After a quick 5-minute presentation by Kapil Sharma, Director Communications Ford India, we were ready to go. There was an instructor sitting with me to help with the experience of dune bashing.Snapseed 4IMG_4640Dune bashing basically means driving at increasing and decreasing speeds over sand dunes. As the surface of the sand keeps shifting, it takes a special skill and SUV like an Endeavour to navigate this terrain. The first 5 minutes went off smoothly over relatively smaller dunes. Now it was time for the real fun to start. This was also when the instructor explained how the Select shift function on this 10-speed gearbox helps to enhance the off roading experience even further on the Endeavour. Snapseed 3The Select shift function allows you to lock in a range of ratios so one doesn’t shift beyond that. This helps in maximising the effectiveness of the Sand mode in the terrain response system, making sure the vehicle doesn’t lose momentum. This is an important aspect of making progress in the sand.

The experience of going down crazy inclines and drops, followed by accelerating full tilt while climbing up was exhilarating… But for the Endeavour this was like just another day in the office.IMG-4642IMG_4644The Endeavour has always been a fantastic SUV with over 60000 customers down the years. In the last year, the Endeavour has racked up impressive numbers which is fantastic, considering the overall industry slowdown.

The 2020 Endeavour prices start at Rs 29.55 lakh for the Titanium 4×2 version and Rs 33.35 lakhs for the Titanium+ 4×4 version. All prices are ex-showroom.

#MONSOONTRAILS – LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT

As part of monsoon trails this year, I have best reviewing SUV’s which are ideally suited to the conditions one encounters during this time of the year.IMG 1.jpgThe Land Rover Discovery Sport is part of a SUV lineage that is legendary. This SUV is the entry level Land Rover on sale in India. The model that I drove was the updated 2019 Discovery Sport Diesel HSE Edition.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?ex 14.jpgCOLLAGE 2.jpgThe Discovery Sport is a well-balanced, good looking SUV with excellent finish and an imposing stance. The 2019 update gets the Dynamic Design Pack. This is being offered in the top end HSE Trim. One gets chrome tail pipes, and a recognisable body kit. Otherwise everything is like the previous model.

HOW IS IT INSIDE?

The first thing you notice as you get into the driver’s seat is how good the all-round visibility is from that position. Lumbar and under thigh support is top class, something we have come to expect in all LR/RR vehicles. The dashboard, the quality of the interiors, fit and finish is premium. Another update to the 2019 model is in terms of the infotainment system. The SUV now gets the upgraded version of the Touch Pro Interface with a 10-inch display that’s available in the HSE Luxury trim. The rest of the variants get an 8-inch Display. The UI is smooth, fluid to use, going through the menu loaded with features is a smooth affair. The switchgear on the steering wheel and doors are premium in fit and finish.COLLAGE 1.jpgLeg, head and shoulder room in the second row is fantastic. 3 adults can be seated comfortably in this row. The seating position in the 2nd row is a little low compared to the 1st row which translates to more headroom here. The 3rd row is ideally suited for kids as the combination of a low seat and high floor means one would end up being seated in a cramped fashion. Boot space on offer in the Discovery Sport is 280 litres.COLLAGE 3.jpgThe Discovery Sport HSE trim I drove came loaded with features. You get a fixed panoramic roof, power adjusted heated power fold exterior mirrors, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 10-way electric front seats, a 17-speaker premium audio system, rear camera, front and rear parking sensors, screens for the rear seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS , ESP, traction control and plenty of airbags.

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

The engine on the 2019 Discovery Sport has gone through a huge update. While it’s the same 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine, power has gone up in the HSE trim that I drove. Now it puts out 179bhp of power, 30hp more than what is available in the entry level Pure variant.

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As soon as you turn on the car and put it into drive mode, one gets a sense of the power on offer. The Discovery Sport takes off so swiftly and smoothly, you forget momentarily that this is a 7-seater SUV! The steering is well balanced and light enough, making driving the Discovery Sport in the city an easy exercise.  Getting to three-digit speeds is done with utmost ease on the highways.

ex 18.jpgex 2.jpgI drove the Discovery Sport over 4 days during this review over a combination of city roads and highways. The biggest standout about this SUV was the quality of the suspension and ride quality. This is by far the best ride quality I have experienced in any SUV so far. Bad roads, large potholes, off road terrain, nothing was a challenge for the Discovery Sport. The Discovery Sport handled these roads with such aplomb and finesse; one actually forgot the pathetic quality of the roads encountered during this review.

THE VERDICT

The 2019 Discovery Sport is a good looking, solid and premium SUV. It offers fantastic ride quality, drives and handles well in all driving conditions. This is a SUV that appeals to a buyer who’s looking for a comfortable and luxurious everyday city vehicle, as well for someone who likes to go off-roading on weekends.

ex 11.jpgex 16.jpgThe Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 5-seater (base variant) is available for Rs 44.68 Lakhs ex-showroom, the Discovery Sport Diesel Pure edition 7 seater (base variant) is available for Rs. 52.47 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Diesel HSE Edition 7-seater starts at Rs.56.57 Lakhs ex-showroom. Prices for the Petrol SE 7-seater starts at Rs. 51.37 Lakhs ex-showroom.

VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN EXPERIENTIAL DRIVE

The last week of October took me to an area and location I hadn’t visited in quite a while. I was driving out early on Saturday morning to the Volkswagen Tiguan Experiential Drive being held at Mukesh Mills in Colaba. For anybody who’s grown up watching movies, music videos in the 90’s Mukesh Mills is immediately recognisable. Countless films and videos have been shot there. Every part of this defunct mill has been used in films to depict all sorts of locations and situations.

Experiencing the Tiguan in such an environment would be interesting!

After the usual registration process, we were briefed by Dr. Tejas Kothari a well-known off-roading expert of what we would experience on the course.

The first obstacle that was created was the terrapod. This would get us to gauge the Tiguan’s ability to handle different alterations in height. How it manages to stay stable and clear this obstacle successfully. I went about doing this activity with the usual sense of caution. Tejas who was the instructor, goaded me on, making corrections when I was veering off. Being on 2 wheels in a moving car is always exciting. This was no different!

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The next obstacle we experienced was the axle breakers. Here one got to see first-hand, the ability of the Tiguan to transfer the requisite amount of torque between the wheels, while they were struggling to find traction. Tejas instructed me to go easy and slow on the throttle, that being the key to clearing this activity smoothly. I did just that.

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Now we moved to the final activity of the drive.
The last activity was to test the ABS of the Tiguan. How it reacts during sudden braking at fast speeds, while attempting a lane change. Tejas told me to step hard on the throttle and slam the brakes the moment we reach the braking marker. The Tiguan managed this activity with ease, showcasing how well the ABS works in such situations.

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At the end of this experiential drive one got a different appreciation of the Tiguan.

A SUV which I have spent lots of time driving in the recent past.