Camp Jeep

We try our hand at off-road­ing with some of Jeep’s best at the first-ever Camp Jeep in Pune. Three SUVs and a chal­leng­ing trail; enough said

Car India - - CONTENTS -

Hit­ting the dirt for some proper off-road­ing

C amp Jeep lets own­ers and prospec­tive cus­tomers get a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence Jeep’s prow­ess in rather ex­treme off-road­ing con­di­tions. After be­ing con­ducted in var­i­ous parts of In­dia, Jeep set up camp in Pune for a week­end; the first time in the city. When the Amer­i­can SUV man­u­fac­turer ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to get dirty on a Satur­day, we heartily ac­cepted.

This edi­tion of Camp Jeep had one vari­ant of each model from Jeep In­dia’s line-up. All cars shared the same course with spe­cial sec­tions ded­i­cated to each of them where they could show­case their spe­cific strengths. The or­ga­niz­ers had marked out the four-kilo­me­tre-long course within a nat­u­ral off-road trail that be­came pro­gres­sively tougher as you drove fur­ther in. Ad­di­tion­ally, Jeep had also set up steel struc­tures within an en­clo­sure to show­case their cars’ ex­treme ca­pa­bil­i­ties. This course fea­tured ob­sta­cles such as a 45-de­gree ramp, a wa­ter-ford­ing tank, and an axle-buster ramp, among oth­ers.

In or­der to get fa­mil­iar with the route, I de­cided to start with the lat­est mem­ber in the Jeep fam­ily, the com­pact Com­pass. After en­gag­ing 4WD Lock and choos­ing “Sand” mode, I slot­ted the car into first gear and set out. A vig­i­lant in­struc­tor in the pas­sen­ger seat of­fered oc­ca­sional ad­vice as the car crawled along the course. Soon, loose soil and stones gave way to rock and shale. At a steady 1,500 rpm, the 2.0-litre Mul­tiJet II turbo-diesel en­gine barely broke into a sweat as the Com­pass dis­missed the change of ter­rain with ease. The car’s com­pact di­men­sions and ef­fort­less steer­ing made it easy to ma­noeu­vre be­tween thorny bushes and rocks. Rocks that we could not drive around, we drove over; thanks to the car’s im­pres­sive ground clear­ance. After wad­ing through a small stream and crest­ing a hil­lock with­out much ado, we headed to­wards the man-made course. Built to push these cars to the limit, the ob­sta­cles put the Com­pass to test and it passed with fly­ing colours. A cou­ple of Com­pass own­ers were elated to see that their cars were ca­pa­ble of such ex­ploits and vowed to take them off-road­ing more of­ten.

High on con­fi­dence, I traded the Com­pass for a spin in the Grand Chero­kee. The wel­com­ing, airy cabin and lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior made me for­get about the swel­ter­ing mid-day Pune heat and the ar­du­ous (but fun) task of off-road­ing. Fur­ther­more, the large SUV came equipped with a lot of elec­tronic gad­getry that

made life a lot eas­ier for the driver. The Grand Chero­kee course was full of steep rocky gra­di­ents that of­fered no trac­tion at all and sim­i­larly daunt­ing de­scents. Ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­struc­tor’s coun­sel, I kept the throt­tle steadily open and the mam­moth SUV dragged it­self up the slope with ease, find­ing grip in places where there was none to be found, thanks to the Selec-Ter­rain trac­tion con­trol sys­tem. The pre­cip­i­tous de­scents were a walk in the park due to Hill De­scent Con­trol.

The Wran­gler Un­lim­ited was the most pop­u­lar car at the event, which meant that there was a long line of peo­ple wait­ing for their turn. When it was my turn, I hauled my­self into the burly SUV with a wide grin to take on the tough­est course of the lot. The butch stance and meaty look of the SUV promised a good time even be­fore I laid hands on the steer­ing wheel, and it did not dis­ap­point. While the other cars de­manded some re­spon­si­ble driv­ing, the Wran­gler felt as if it was ready to take on any­thing. An ab­so­lute beast in sketchy ter­rain, it dis­missed most of the course with ease. Then we reached the section that was set aside es­pe­cially for the Wran­gler. The steep­est gra­di­ents yet, a small stream, and nar­row paths strewn with large rocks awaited us. The huge ve­hi­cle was easy to ma­noeu­vre and grace­fully ran over most of the ob­sta­cles, courtesy its great ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles.

The whole course took nearly 30 min­utes to com­plete in each car. Prospec­tive cus­tomers at the event also had the chance to take their fam­ily along for the off-road ses­sion. For those who had to wait for their turn to drive, Jeep had set up a de­light­ful out­door lounge, com­plete with a snack counter, game area, mer­chan­dise stalls, and a static dis­play of Jeep ve­hi­cles.

those of you who missed it, Jeep have promised to be back with big­ger events, and with such ca­pa­ble cars on of­fer we be­lieve it is only go­ing to get bet­ter .

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