Most car owners learn the basics of their vehicle when they purchase it – and I mean basics. Let’s face it; learning to navigate the infotainment system, pairing your iPhone and which gasoline is best suited for your engine is usually as far as it goes. However, things seem to be a little bit different when you own a Land Rover. The British luxury automotive manufacturer offers owners of it’s vehicles an opportunity to learn all the capabilities of their newly acquired Land Rover or Range Rover at one of the brand’s 32 global driving centres.
A few weeks ago I got an off-road experience of a lifetime in quaint Montebello, Quebec, where Canada’s only Land Rover Experience School can be found nestled within the grounds of the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. Although Canadian, I’m not typically a lover of the outdoors during the winter and much prefer sun and the beach, but Land Rover Canada’s #Hibernot adventure reminded me that winter time in the north isn’t so bad. And it turns out, late night sleigh rides, ice skating and curling can be fine when you have the right group of people with you. But in all honesty, winter activities aside, I was really just there to see what Land Rover’s fleet of vehicles could do off-road.
The conditions on day two were absolutely perfect with a fresh blanket of thick, white snow on the ground. I was eager to explore the 65,000 of unspoiled nature that was somehow perfectly designed for car enthusiasts like Moi to navigate the technical woodland obstacles. Land Rover vehicles have a strong blood line. For over 60 years their SUV’s have tackled the most difficult terrain across the globe. To help guide us through this experience, we had a group of expertly trained instructors who all had in-depth knowledge of our 2016 fleet; Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Evoque, LR4 and the Discovery. They helped guide our white convoy to our training destination, but stopped midway to apply winter chains to our tires. It was at that point I realized that this was not going to be a “basic” off-road drive program.
After being assigned to my white LR4, I immediately got an “Intro to Off-Roading” from my instructor. Proper seat settings, the importance of having driver arm rests raised and out of the way, so it’s not a hinderance when navigating the terrain. Where you look is naturally where you will steer the vehicle, therefore making sure to always look 10 feet directly in front of the vehicle while driving will allow drivers to keep the car from going into a ditch – eeeek, and most importantly, “drive as slow as possible, as fast as necessary“. We typically think when driving in snowy conditions that it’s best to increase speed for momentum when in deep snow to avoid getting stuck. Turns out, that’s the absolute worst thing you can do. Increasing speed when your tires are immersed in show actually increases your probabilities of either spinning out entirely or digging yourself into a deeper hole. Keeping the vehicle moving at a deliberately slow and consistent pace is the key to winter driving success and avoiding venturing off road into a ditch in real life driving situations.
The LR4 has come some way since my Mother had the SUV’s predecessor the LR3. The exterior similar but more sleek and refined but it’s the interior where I saw a lot of the upgraded details. A reverse traffic detection with blind spot monitor and closing vehicle sensing. Surround camera system – so yes ladies and gents, this camera doesn’t just give you a rear camera view when backing up, you have access to 360 vision allowing you to view in front and also the sides of the car. For those of you who have always loved the vaulted roof of Land Rovers, you will really love the extended moon roof that brings in so much light into the vehicle it’s almost like your driving a cone
Ok, so the aesthetics are on point but what about the performance right? The 340hp, V6 engine has an eight speed automatic transmission that drives on all four wheels making it possible for the LR4 to expertly tackle the most treacherous driving conditions and toughest trails in the wilderness. Besides it’s adjustable air suspension, the car is equipped with some sophisticated technology in it’s arsenal that blew myself and the other media away. Terrain Response allowed us to manually choose the driving surface we were only for more control, which was really useful in deep snow but there was also an automatic option where the car intuitively detected it on it’s own. Most impressive was the HDC (Hill Descent Control) which allowed for a smooth and controlled descent in the rough terrain without me having to touch the break pedal at all – how crazy is that? When it’s turned on, the Land Rover descends using the ABS brake system to control each wheel’s speed.
Thank you Land Rover Canada for an amazing experience and giving me a deeper appreciation for these awesome vehicles. Want to learn more about the brand’s beautiful and powerful line-up? Find more details at LandRover.ca.