Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning "Advancement through Technology" simply put that's Audi for you - the Q Drive events organised in many cities in India just about reiterates that ! It tells one and all what German engineering is all about. The name Audi is synonymous worldwide as a manufacturer of high quality and innovative luxury automobile maker. Audi made its entry in India in 2004 and has never looked back since. Initially taking the CBU approach but slowly moving to a CKD approach via a ever growing facility in Aurangabad. Not many know this but employees of Skoda India assemble some of the Audi models which are already in the CKD form ( A4, A6, Q5, Q7 ). Q3 is also planned to be manufactured the CKD route in Aurangabad shortly.
The Q drive event is designed to get you a thorough experience of the Q series models (Q3, Q5 and the monstrous Q7) in the rough!
Audi had already done the event in mumbai with lot of ladies participants (who apparently are a huge clientele of Audi India breaking the notion of SUV's being only for men!).
Gul Panag led the show in Mumbai, some pictures from the mumbai event below.
Audi has wisely been targeting a much broader market by targeting the fairer sex(also) and especially a younger upcoming generation with Q3 slogan 'Start Young'.
Strong marketing tactics coupled with familiar bollywood/tv celebrities endorsing audi is pretty common now in several media.
The Pune event happened near Koregaon park, as it was close to my house I was already watching the buzz a day before the event officially started. An offroad track was prepared using a bulldozer with different kinds of common offroad hurdles (Inclines, Declines, Banking, Slush etc ) to test various aspects like balance, articulation, approach angles , departure angles, breakover, stability of some of the quattro monsters.
For me(and others) the event started with filling a customary indemnity form that I am responsible for my own stupidity while driving and cannot blame anyone else. The pretty ladies at the desk asked if I was 18 and over and have a driving license, I immediately obliged by showing them my old license which was in tatters inside a small plastic cover (the old book type one and not the new fancy plastic card). It was a fulfilling experience to show the license to someone a little more beautiful than the customary "mama" who is waiting at a signal to pounce at a poor fellow. Ill explain :-
Mama(Traffic Constable):- Chala Chala license kada (English translation : Cmon out with the license )
Pretty Ladies :- Sir if you dont mind can I please check your driving license ?
feel the difference now ehh (Ok , I did make up the over 18 part, but the rest is factual!)?
The Pune event was extremely well choreographed with the same team managing the show who do the Audi Sportscar experience at tracks like Buddh international circuit. Aniruddha(Head - Marketing) was extremely courteous and addressing customers on the floor of the event helping them understand Audi offerings better.
The drill was simple, a convoy of cars is led through the offroad track moving synchronously while keeping a safe distance. The first round is done by the Audi team with you sitting beside and enjoying the ride. The convoy is a mix of Q3, Q5 and Q7 SUVs. I was in the leading Q5 driven around the circuit, quite exhilarating while being cocooned in plush interiors.
The convoy were carefully synchronized via walky talkies with each obstacle crossed one at a time and lead convoy driver giving instructions to the followers. It was a good chat with the lead guy from the Audi team talking about his R8 driving at Buddh circuit to doing offroad drive events all over India - and the best part getting paid for doing all of this, only one word 'envy' !!
After the assisted round, we began the self driven part and very smartly I requested to be anchored to the monstrous Q7(Automatic) and the team happily obliged. After making a few checks/adjustments to familiarize with the controls, the most impressive and talked about component the adaptive suspension caught my eye(off course). It has several setups like Lift, Offroad, Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic, fairly easy and intuitive controls from a user perspective.
My drive began with a series of awkward ditches and ruts to test the vehicle suspension geometry, it followed a banking test, a steep incline and decline , some deep ditches to check articulations , again some banking's following gc testing rut and finally a slush section. I wouldn't go in the technical and functional aspects of the vehicle as this was a short offroad test drive under managed conditions. However I would like to mention the auto Q7 TDI had an absolute monster under the hood, extremely quiet and timid at idle and low revs and a mild blowing grunt at high end. The ability of the Quattro to adapt to various conditions with a computer thinking for you inside the car was very apparent, when the going went tough the computer decides whats the right thing to do and the dumb driver just has to keep the accelerator pressed. Even in such a short drive one could figure out there is immense engineering working for you behind the scenes with the auto box keeping you away from the nitty gritties.
And now let the pictures do all the talking :-