Under heavy acceleration in the first part of the course, the Endeavour pulverised gravel to return decent sector timings. Decent yes, but not quick enough to turn the scales on the X-Trail. And yes, it dislodged most of the water from the pit that we had woven into the scheme of things to help our photographer. Braking for the deadly first turn, the excess weight of the Endeavour worked against it – sure, ABS with brake distribution is good on paper but Newton’s first law of inertia was winning the day. Exit and entry angles are certainly academic for this pick-up bred SUV, and that too, despite its length. As the day progressed, the slushy bit of the track was getting worse but the Endeavour seemed to have no worries charting a neat line through it and the gearing was just suited for such feats. Hammering along the rocky climb and dismissing boulders with ease is how most drivers finished their runs with the Endeavour. Yes, its body-on-chassis construction and rudimentary suspension means excessive body roll which manifested through, say, 70 per cent of the track. On the positive side, the Endeavour is the only machine of the pack that offers a proper, old-school low-ratio option. Had any of the other two slick machines got stuck in the mud, it would have been the Endeavour that pulled them out for sure.
Slush Fest verdict
For most purposes, it was the Endeavour that was the pace car for Slush Fest 2005. It ferried the photographers, was used for practice runs, and once it even covered the entire track with a full load of passengers... and it still felt capable and indestructible. We love this machine for its off-road ability. A pity that it lost out to a worthy rival that had a newer engine and a superior all-wheel drive system going for it.
There is no match for displacement, the Americans say. In today’s world of common-rail diesels, it can be said that there is no match for horsepower. The Nissan came loaded with a dCi engine good enough for 134 bhp and 31.7 kgm of torque, and going by our road test performance, it was supposed to give the competition a good run. But what we didn’t expect was the electronic four-wheel drive driveline of the X-Trail to be oh-so-capable. You see, if you look under the X-Trail, you get to see spindly rods and connections that suit fine-tuned cars more than SUVs, and we were a bit worried (the thing costs close to Rs 23 lakh on-road) about how the X-Trail would take the punishment meted out by our track.