Border Patrol: How we set a national record with the Volkswagen Taigun
At sundown on August 22, 2022, the Volkswagen Taigun set a new national record for the longest drive along the western border. The four Volkswagen Taigun SUVs which attempted the record run covered a distance of 579km driving along India’s western border, with this record run being the first of its kind, testing the ruggedness and the suitability of the SUV in India’s harshest conditions.
The record run also celebrated 75 years of Indian independence, and also coincided with the one-year anniversary celebrations of the Taigun. The four Volkswagen Taigun SUVs which took part in Border Patrol represented each engine and gearbox combination available – the 1-litre and 1.5-litre TSI engines, with the manual as well automatic gearboxes. The team that attempted the record run included Sirish Chandran and Aatish Mishra from evo India along with Gagan Mandal, Head of Press Communication and Abbey Thomas, Chief General Manager - Head Marketing from Volkswagen India. Rounding up the lineup was off-road veteran Madan Choudhary from Rajasthan Motorsports, who knows the roads in these parts like the back of his hand.
Our Border Patrol record run was flagged off at the Tanot mata temple in Rajasthan, with BSF Assistant Commandant Surinder Kumar flagging off our convoy. The plan was to drive to the BSF outpost at Nadabet in Gujarat via Longewala, and the proceedings were off to a blissful start as we motored down the super-smooth tarmac of the Bharatmala road. The Bharatmala Project is one funded by the central government, aimed to boost connectivity and economic activity in these border regions and the roads which are a part of the initiative in Rajasthan are smooth enough to drive a supercar on. However, the Bharatmala road does not go on forever. 230km after the start, it simply stopped, disappearing into a single-track road that is barely paved. This trail goes through the Desert National Park and is not even mapped on Google Maps. Luckily, we had Madan Choudhary and a physical map pointing us in the right direction.
This record run was also a perfect showcase of the Taigun’s suitability to Indian conditions. Border Patrol coincided with the Taigun’s first anniversary in India, and over the span of a year, we’ve been bowled over Volkswagen’s SUV. The performance from both the TSI engines – the 1-litre and the 1.5 TSI is superb, and time and again, we have referred to the Taigun as the Thrill of Driving benchmark in its segment. The surefooted yet enthusiastic dynamics haven’t come at the expense of ride comfort, a fact that we appreciated as we tackled the trails in the Desert National Park. The climate control was also a boon to have in our conditions, considering we would be driving 12-13 hours during the record run, most of it being in the searing heat of Rajasthan.
After 36km, we crossed the Desert National Park, hustling past the town of Munabao which is on the border with Pakistan, towards the town of Bakhasar where we would receive an escort from the BSF. The Volkswagen Taiguns then proceeded to drive on the BSF Fence Road, a patrol road on which no civilians were allowed to drive on. Until now. Driving on the Fence Road was a surreal experience, with the Rann of Kutch (and flamingos!) on the left, while two rows of barbed wire fencing separated us from our neighbours on the right. As we passed BSF outposts, we saluted the jawaans we passed on the way – these are the men entrusted with protecting our borders.
Our drive culminated at the Zero Point on the BSF Fence Road at sundown, just in time for the retreat ceremony by the BSF. As the flag fluttered away and the sun dipped towards the horizon, Mohit Vats, adjudicator for the India Book of Records, proceeded with the record ceremony. A distance of 579km was covered from dawn to dusk as the four Volkswagen Taiguns drove along India’s western border, this feat being the first of its kind and a perfect test for putting the Taigun’s reliability and ruggedness through its paces.