Mahindra Off-Road Academy
The Mahindra Off-Road Academy teaches you the tricks to conquer more terrains
I started this beautiful day by accepting an invitation to experience what Mahindra’s off-road academy is like, located in the hills of Igatpuri. This 28 acres of land has been dedicated to nothing but making an off-roaders wet dream come true and wet it indeed was with the clouds rolling off the mountains every once in an hour as it poured down on this off-road facility with a few hints of a thunderstorm but all in all, this served as perfect off-road weather.
The facility is located right beside Mahindra’s Igatpuri engine plant and sits right in the centre surrounded by mountains and dense vegetation. The academy has 4 courses to chose from – Getting Dirty (Basic), Trail Survivor (Intermediate), Global Explorer (Advance) and Mahindra Certified Off-Road Trainer. The course offered to us was the Trail Survivor. We had 6 obstacles to face and some of them are similar to the tasks given in the Getting Dirty course but it being more technical, focuses more on driving techniques and vehicle dynamics. If you’re a first timer, it’s no compulsion that you’ll have to complete the first course to be able to do the next, however, that being said, you must complete the Trail Survivor course in order to complete the Global Explorer course.
As we reached and entered the off-road facility, we were greeted with a convoy of Thars and two Scorpios with the front bumper removed to make the approach angle better. After driving through a trail of bumps and muck, we reached the meeting point located beside the Balancing bridge obstacle. We began the course by being brought up to speed with the basic requirements in an off-road vehicle in terms of equipment, design and drivertrain. We were taught about the different versions of the Thar present there and how each of them was special in their own way.
We were also asked to drive each vehicle we had at our disposal and were asked to not hold back from driving all different generations of the Thars available in order for us to develop our sense of understanding towards the dynamic capabilities each individual generation has to offer with their drivertrains and learn to evolve our driving style into something more diverse and not focus on getting the hang of just one of those cars. We started with our first obstacle called ‘Home Run’. This obstacle was a steep narrow decline followed by a few metres of muck and a sharp right into a ditch that teaches you about throttle input, clutch control and departure angles. We were introduced to the obstacle by first a demonstration of what not to do and that is try and climb such a steep decline, needless to say this was a very easy and fun obstacle and everyone cleared it with little hesitation.