When does excitement turn into panic, or thrill turn into spill? When does the joy of a new adventure turn into heartache?
The answer: when your brand-new fourbie grinds to a halt, belly deep in the sand, or it slides down the beach towards the surf.
It all seems so easy on television – family wagons gleefully plunging into rivers, before climbing fearlessly up and down steep hills, towards magically pristine campsites.
But if you’ve never actually driven off the blacktop, taking $50K-plus of hard-earned dollars into the unknown is more than a little scary.
It used to be that once a marketing department had enticed you to part with your money it was only the service department that wanted to see you – and get you to spend a few more dollars. Now, smart 4WD manufacturers are starting to realise that improving a customer’s experience with a new 4x4 can build brand loyalty and create new client recommendations.
Enter the the Isuzu I-Venture Club, an initiative put together to provide fun and informative driving experiences for Isuzu D-Max ute or MU-X wagon owners. While the drive days are tailored for completely novice 4WDers, even experienced folk will pick up more than a few tips and tricks, because the training is specific to the Isuzu product and how to get the very best performance from these particular vehicles.
A typical drive day starts with a good breakfast and some serious business as the lead trainer provides some clear and concise off-roading principles and an introduction to how a 4WD system works.
Participants receive a good grounding in things like tyre construction and the always-important selection of the correct tyre pressures. Plus, there are very specific tips and techniques for Isuzu vehicles to enable owners to develop an understanding of how to set up their vehicle to tackle various terrain.
Before the fidgets have time to set in, it’s time to hit the driver’s seat to put theory into practice. In Western Australia, this was on a favourite fourbie playground – the powdery white Lancelin sand dunes.
The trainer David Wilson and his Isuzu support team start things slowly on mild slopes and firmer sand before guiding, encouraging and cajoling the drivers to tackle the big slopes at ever more daunting angles.
As confidence soars (and smiles widen), Wilson mixes it up by finding a boggy, sloping beach to teach drivers about momentum, angles and track selection. And if no-one inadvertently goes belly deep, he convinces someone to “do the wrong thing” to demonstrate how easy it is get to stuck and how getting back on track is totally achievable.
With a big thumbs up from the drivers, Isuzu has been winning happy customers with their I-Venture initiative.
If you own an Isuzu, check out iventureclub.com.au for their next adventures in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Around $250 will get you a day pass with a dedicated and experienced 4WD trainer for 1 vehicle/2 passengers, including breakfast and lunch.