Yes, we all need to go off the road to appreciate being on the road… this is one metaphor that has remained with me ever since I first went off-roading and realised how much it taught me about life. Those past experiences with the Mahendra Thar, Volvo XC60, Nissan Terrano and a host of other vehicles have added to my repertoire of tips for off-roading… but the impact of driving the Tata Hexa will probably outlive them all.
I am one of those lucky few who got the opportunity to drive the automatic as well as the manual version of Tata Hexa… both on and off the road. And so, I have devised a set of ten tips that I wouldn’t ever want to forget when I am going off the road… and I’ve made them all rhyme so that they are easy to remember:
Slow as a tortoise that looks all around
Lives longer, cherishes all he has found!
Terrains have this uncanny habit of surprising you every time and despite every precaution there can be a moment that you are unprepared for. Therefore, go slow. I still remember the downhill track in Pachmarhi where there was a massive log as I turned right. It had simply slid from somewhere up in the hill and was waiting for me to be foolish enough to come speeding down.
Let not your focus waver and dance like a fool
Off-roading sans concentration is a dangerous tool!
Off-roading is all about split-moment decisions, right determination, and a calm resolve… even on a man-made track like the one in Gurugram. You’ll be surprised at the way a lack of focus can undo all the hard work. Tackling sand dunes near Jaipur, I happened to look away from the narrow sand ledge to watch a bird of prey dive – and we found we had tilted to a dangerous angle and saved by just a few degrees from turtling down. Of course, we had to get help to put the vehicle straight… and I was standing there dazed.
The 4×4 has devices that guide and hold your hand
Pay heed to them because they aren’t a wedding band
Let me add here that the Tata Hexa has more devices and aids that make off roading easier to handle than most vehicles in this segment can boast of. And I am not talking of just the ‘rough mode’ that is there for all to see and use. Obviously, you need to make sure that you have enough fuel and that you do not increase the rpm so much and so consistently that the resultant heat-up messes up everything. You need to understand intimately the role of features like ‘Hill Hold Control (HHC) & Hill Descent Control (HDC) because Hill Hold Control (HHC) automatically activates, to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards on up-hill drives. Hill Descent Control (HDC) controls descent on inclined surfaces. Traction Control System – Acts as a control system to prevent excessive wheel slip.’ And I am quoting from the Hexa brochure here to remain technically correct.
Vroom Vroom can look good in a Bollywood flick
But raising the rpm without needing is a lousy trick
The secret mantra of good off-roading is: Low gear and optimal speed. Raise hell through the device called rpm only if it is necessary to cross an obstacle. Or else, go cautiously and live to off-road another day. RPM heroics are certainly not high on my priority list. I have destroyed a gopro camera and parts of an expensive vehicle once while going across a water trough that had a slippery incline towards the end and raising the rpm thinking this is what I needed to do. So think twice about rpm.
The steering and the way you hold it
Can dislocate a thumb in a rowdy bit
The steering recoil is possibly sharper and more vicious than the one experienced by people who have fired the now obsolete .302 rifle. A poor dumb thumb isn’t fast enough to retract in time and will invariably get a rough treatment if you aren’t careful about how you hold the steering when the wheels get stuck and are confused.
When unsure and when in doubt
Walk out and walk about
I do this quite frequently. No point in getting into the heart of an obstacle without having understood how shrewd it could be. Treat every obstacle as a formidable enemy and you’ll be victorious. Hey! Even the army has observation posts and doesn’t go rushing into what could be well-laid ambushes. Learn from them and stay safe.
From one to another gear she went
Losing power until her confidence bent
We all know this… especially those who drive on Delhi roads during monsoons. I’m not talking of open manholes and large potholes waiting for gullible motorists to come through muddy water-logged stretches and get stranded. There are stretches that pretend to be what they are not and motorists often shift gears that rob them of power and stalling happens. It is far better to decide on the right gear and acceleration before entering the obstacle zone because pressing the clutch pedal reduces power and this can be the one most important point that causes failure to clear.
The Tata Hexa is 4,788 mm in length, 1,903 mm in width, 1,791 mm in height and 2,850 mm in wheelbase. This vehicle isn’t a dumb bouncer on the roads but is like a strong ballet dancer with a ground clearance of 200 mm, a fuel tank capacity of 60 litres, and has 19-inch 235/55 tyres with diamond-cut alloy wheels. All of this helps it to roar on the roads as well as off the roads.
30 November 2016