How do you gauge off-road ability just by looking at the brochure? Nobody can, and that’s the whole premise of the Toyota Off-Road Camp. Off-roading can only be experienced from behind the wheel and so Lanson Toyota has pitched a 2 day camp in Chennai, at “The Farm”, in the expansive Old Mahabalipuram Road, Chemmanchery and invited their customers to have a go and experience the true go-anywhere potential of their Fortuners and Land Cruisers. After all you might not spend your days off-roading but when you do get into a traffic jam on the highway or you get stuck in the potholes filled rainy roads, it is good to know that you can take a hard left and off-road your way out of the jam or wade through three feet of water and get home even in the floods.
At the Toyota Off-Road Camp, customers and guests will be treated to a specially carved out track with a few strategically placed obstacles. And to show the drivers how to tackle the obstacles in and climb up and down everything in its way they will take the wheel and drive the Fortuner around the specially built course. This course will involve navigation and testing of the special capabilities of the SUV, some of which are highlighted here: Axle twister – which is a series of ramps that would test the suspension articulation and Active Traction Control.
If the Fortuner has one of its wheels in the air, the Active Traction Control would feed power to the wheels that are in contact to the ground.
After the kiddie stuff, the drivers had to take on the big mound, which is a 15 feet high m 40 degree incline. It’s an almost vertical climb followed by a similar descent. Here the Fortuner proved its mettle. With oodles of torque from just 1200rpm, Hill Hold Assist and Downhill Assist, the drivers could easily take on this obstacle despite looking at only the sky through the windscreen. When the drivers stopped mid-way during their climb the Hill Hold Assist held the brakes for four seconds and the instructors pointed out that we didn’t have to wrestle with the handbrake or slip the clutch to get going again. Once we got up the mound, there was another halt to engage Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and select first gear (on the automatic gearbox) in sequential.
SPECIAL FEATURE: TOYOTA OFF-ROAD CAMP mode. Mr. Arun Prasad, who is our instructor, strictly asked us to keep the foot off the brakes while going down. The Downhill Assist slowed us down and let the Fortuner descend gently without us having to worry about modulating the brake, once again demonstrating what all the tech mentioned in the catalog actually did in the real world. No splashing around The water wading trench was a test of the driver’s patience and the Fortuner’s water wading capacity, which is a massive 700mm. The big SUV was gently lowered into the water with care so as to avoid water rushing into the intake. Wade through the water slowly with a light throttle. Once we got the SUV out, we were asked to stop to let the water drain out before we set of for the Slush Pit. No particular instructions here, the key was to keep going and experience the traction of the Fortuner. Desired results for the day were achieved – big smiles and a very dirty SUV.
The machines What they meant by ‘capable’ was this. Under the Fortuner’s massive hood sits a 2.8-litre diesel mill that churns out 176bhp and 450Nm of torque available from as low as 1500 rpm. Double wishbone suspension at the front and 4-link lateral rod at the rear meant that the Fortuner could deliver a plush ride and generous amount of articulation for challenging terrain. It is equipped with Downhill Assist Control and Hill Hold Assist but what was overwhelming was to watch the Toyota Active Traction Control that sent power to the wheels that were on the ground, helping it keep moving even with one or two wheels in the air. With its 29 and 25 degree approach and departure angles, 700mm of water wading depth and a ground clearance of 220mm this is a very capable SUV. No wonder there are over one lakh customers of Toyota’s premium SUV.
Lanson Toyota Executive Director Mr. Shivanka Lankalingam who is instrumental in bringing this Off-road experiential driving to Chennai along with Ms. Vijayalakshmi – Joint Dealer Partner, Lanson Toyota ; Mr. Suresh Puloor – Regional Head South I, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd., from Bangalore and Mr. Mani Narayanan – Vice President (Sales & Marketing) while addressing the gathering said :
“We are happy to share that Lanson Toyota & Toyota India has been organising new Toyota Off-Road Multi-city Camp events. Through these on-ground events, we want our customers to experience the off-roading ability of their Toyota Land Cruiser and Fortuner SUVs. Highly trained instructors accompany our customers and push them to discover the depth of capability and extreme situations that the Toyota SUVs can handle.
In the event scheduled for today and tomorrow (August 17 & 18, 2019), we have axle articulation, water wading, steep inclines, deep and slushy mud and huge potholes for customers to experience technology like Active Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control and the ease with which the Toyota SUVs can tackle difficult terrain. We also have Fortuners available in manual and automatic air transmission for invitees to experience the Toyota DNA and gene pool. I take this opportunity to thank our Fortuner customers for making the Toyota SUV into the best selling and most loved vehicle in its segment.”