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Heading to the hills in the lap of luxury

 Ronendra Singh | Updated on June 12, 2014 Published on June 12, 2014

Plush ride The Jaguar XF offered a comfortable drive even in SUV territory


To escape the searing heat of Delhi, we head to Bhimtal in the cool XF

Delhi is particularly well known for its winters, but the summer months are just as notoriously uncomfortable. Weekends see scores of residents thronging to the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttakhand heading up the hills seeking cooler climes.

As the mercury crept past the 40 degrees mark, we decided to join the trail of vehicles already on labouring their way out of the capital.

Our chosen destination was Bhimtal in Uttarakhand, nearly 300 kms away. The National Capital Region has been blessed with smooth national highways and the road to Bhimtal is no less, via Ghaziabad, Hapur, Moradabad, Rampur, Bilaspur and Haldwani. Peak summer months mean peak season in the hills, and getting an early start is key to a fulfilling weekend.

Our road journey was made possible thanks to a special vehicle. Three road junkies were in the lap of unquestionable luxury – a Jaguar XF – making the 300-km journey smooth sailing all the way. The 2.2 litre diesel engine doing duty underneath was a gem along with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Six to seven hours in a car can be tedious, but not when you’re inside a Jag.

Hill roads and undulating terrain usually could mean that cars with higher ground clearance, like SUVs, are more suitable.

But the XF managed to tackle the uneven surfaces graciously. The ride was smooth throughout, the power well-apportioned.

No car is perfect, and the Jag XF’s drawback turned out to be the swooping front windshield, which together with the glare from reflected overhead sunshine, created frequent blind spots. It’s a ₹50 lakh car mind you, and those with the penchant for luxury would be wary, however few the number of times the car leaves city roads.

The small matter of blind spots especially at the turns aside, it’s difficult to find fault with the XF. Its excellent navigation system that would trump many of its competitors with its display and features, came in handy on our trip.

For a car with a sporting pedigree – the XF is more suited for those with a predisposition for refined luxury – the suspension was a fair balance between being rigid and pliant, and the seats offered the right support for keeping us comfy during the long drive. It’s as much a driver’s car as it is a passenger’s, and the only rest for the occupants was reserved for the stopover at roadside dhabas offering a tempting array of delicious meals.

The twisty hill roads of Uttarakhand was where the XF came alive. The curvy roads were met with the surety of the XF’s handling – miles were munched and the destination reached on time to allow us to soak in the breathtaking views; Bhimtal alone took away the tiredness of a six-hour drive.

Stunning views and beautiful roads make for quite a combination, especially with lakes like Sat Tal and Naukuchia Tal within touching distance, and a quick dash to either place tickles the wanderlust. Further up is a haven for the adventure junky, with paragliding, rock-climbing and kayaking awaiting us outside the comfort of our car.

Next morning, we head out to Mukteshwar, another 35 kms from Bhimtal. En route we drive past the rich, thickly wooded forests of pine and walnut trees lining the roadside landscape. For the idyllic soul, there is much more adventure here in the lap of nature, away from the bustling city we came from.

No holiday is long enough, and a weekend is certainly not. Back to the grind and grime of Delhi, but with a mind refreshed, memories renewed, and a car as striking as the Jaguar XF. It lived up to its name, and made the journey well worth it.

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Published on June 12, 2014
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