Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review

March 12th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

Hoi polloi: it’s the Ancient Greek word for the commoners, plebeians and the great unwashed. When you drive an Evoque Black Design Edition, you’ve elevated yourself above this, yet you still have credibility because it’s got the Land Rover badge which is a bastion of workhorse utility. But it’s not your typical boxy Land Rover you’d drive with a peak cap and a Swanndri. This is the Duchess of Cambridge: she’s got the cocktail dress, but you know there’s a pair of wellies in the boot.

range-rover-evoque-td4-dynamic-2014-rear-quarterAs you get comfortable with being one of the hoi oligoi – the few – you’ll need the ability to circumnavigate your dominion, and fortunately the Evoque comes with some off-road smarts to get you to all four corners. Continue reading “Range Rover Evoque TD4 Black Design Edition 2014 Review” »

Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review

February 20th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

land-rover-discovery-4-black-front-quarter

At $130,250 I’m as likely to go roving over the land as I am to wear my favourite business shirt while doing judo. However, with the limited off-roading I dare do in the Discovery 4 Black, which consisted of a verified ‘safe’ bit of beach and some fairly non-challenging rocks, I can confirm that it has abilities that normal cars don’t have on terrain that will throw you around and pin you to the mat.

land-rover-discovery-4-black-front-interiorFive Terrain Response modes help the air suspension adapt to the requirements. Leave it in the standard mode and you’ll get through most obstacles, but there are options for low gear ratios, raising the suspension up to 125mm for a total of 310mm for extreme off-road, and lowering it by 50mm to allow easier entry for passengers. Bashing through the rocks? Put it in the rock crawl mode which gives lighter braking. In ruts and mud? Put it in the mud mode for better ground clearance. On the beach? Put it in sand mode to give better launch control to stop you digging yourself a hole. Continue reading “Land Rover Discovery 4 Black Limited Edition 2013 Review” »

Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon 2012 Review

November 28th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Go back to the late 1940s and you’ll find a fledgling off-roader scrabbling for traction in a post-War economy. The market for luxury cars was pretty sour after the War, but plenty of utility vehicles were needed for farming and industry as the world rebuilt itself. Along came the Land Rover Series I.

Sixty years later, while almost every other vehicle has evolved into something better-handling, more comfortable and faster, the Series I eventually became the Defender, making just incremental improvements, and remaining a no-nonsense and versatile mud plugger aimed at specialist applications off road.

To be perfectly honest, on the road the Defender is Continue reading “Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon 2012 Review” »

The All-New Range Rover Vogue Revealed

August 15th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

The all-new Range Rover is the most capable and most luxurious Land Rover yet. Lighter, stronger and with new levels of refinement, the Range Rover reinforces its position as the world’s finest luxury SUV.

The fourth generation of the unique Range Rover Vogue line, the all-new model has been developed from the ground up, capturing the spirit and iconic design of the original model.

The world’s first SUV with a revolutionary lightweight all-aluminium monocoque body structure is lighter than the steel body in the outgoing model enabling total vehicle weight savings of 250kg.

The lightweight aluminium platform has delivered significant enhancements in performance and agility, along with a transformation in fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

In addition to the strong and rigid lightweight body, an all-new aluminium front and rear chassis architecture has been developed with completely re-engineered four-corner air suspension. While the luxurious ride has been retained, the vehicle’s handling and agility have been significantly improved. The new suspension architecture delivers flatter, more confident cornering, with natural and intuitive steering feel.

With Land Rover strength at its heart, the new model has been engineered from the ground up to be the most capable, most refined Range Rover ever.

Amongst the industry-leading innovations is a ground-breaking next-generation version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response® system, which analyses the current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings for the terrain.

To ensure exceptional durability and reliability, the new model has been subjected to Land Rover’s punishing on- and off-road test and development regime, with a fleet of development vehicles covering millions of miles over 18 months of arduous tests in more than 20 countries with extremes of climate and road surfaces.

Within the cabin, the all-new Range Rover provides occupants with a sensation of serene isolation, meeting the highest luxury car standards for refinement.

Measures like the rigorously optimised body structure and acoustic lamination of the windscreen and side door glass have significantly reduced noise levels, while the new suspension architecture has enabled engineers to achieve even more luxurious ride comfort and refinement.

The sumptuous interior incorporates distinctive Range Rover design cues, but executed with a very contemporary treatment, and clean, elegant surfaces which are flawlessly presented using the finest leathers and veneers. With over 118mm more legroom, the rear occupants benefit from vastly increased space and comfort, with the option of a new two-seat Executive Class seating package for the ultimate in rear-seat luxury.

To deliver the model’s characteristic effortless performance, customers can choose from either the V8 Supercharged petrol engine, the TDV6 or the SDV8 diesel engines.

The all-new Range Rover has been engineered with the latest developments in vehicle technologies, from interior luxury features such as exclusive Meridian surround sound music systems and power upper and lower tailgates, to advanced chassis and driver assistance technologies.

Designed and engineered at Land Rover’s development centres in the UK, the new Range Rover will be produced in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Solihull, UK – employing the latest low-energy aluminium body construction technologies.

The New Zealand price and specification will be released at a later date and the Range Rover Vogue will be on sale in from January 2013.

A Uniquely British Affair

July 31st, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Oh Danny Boyle, a knight, a knighthood’s calling! Well if you are to believe the good folk of the English town of Bury – where the Oscar winning director and architect of the Olympic opening ceremony hails from – it certainly won’t be long before one of their own is summoned to Buck house for a bit of ceremonial sword waving. Although from a quick poll of my co-workers, it seems that Mr. Boyle’s epic production didn’t strike a chord with everyone.

Kiwis, South Africans, Indians, Fijians and Samoans alike confessed they were left in a state of bewilderment by the transition from country bumpkins, through the industrial revolution, a manic party of modern music and an intense celebration of the National Health Service. Where was the sport? Where was the story of our growth from mother earth? There wasn’t even a big red bus for crying out loud.

All of which misses the point by a country mile, because what Boyle offered was perhaps a better insight into the mentality of the British than the world has ever seen.

The national public relations department has hardly been doing the old country proud of late, portraying a land of gypsy weddings, drunken yobbos and the bloody Chawners. God Save the Queen? God help her would surely be more appropriate; trapped on that isle of alcoholic, bludging, wasters. You would be forgiven for thinking the only culture that could be found in dear old Blighty was in the yoghurt.

Keep Calm and Carry OnBut that is to miss the point. For every tracksuit-clad teenage mother of eight or herd of scavenging pikeys there are hundreds – thousands possibly – who still place great esteem on the values that made the nation great. Jam and Jerusalem. Cricket on the village green. Keep Calm and Carry On. People who take a quiet pride in the fact that the world today runs on the engineering genius of Brunel, still dances to the tunes of Lennon and McCartney and entertains itself with sports first dreamed of in that green and pleasant land.

Boyle played to this magnificently. And despite the smattering of comic turns and self-deprecating humour, it was a celebration of Britain for the British. And for the rest of the world, an education.

But perhaps there are some who have already been educated. I suspect that unique combination of eccentricity, creativity and technical nous will be strangely familiar to anyone who has experienced the ‘joys’ of owning a British car. And I don’t mean an American car designed for the British market – Ford Capri owners take note – but something truly British, designed on the back of a fag packet and built in a factory run by Trade Unions or simply a glorified shed.

Be it something mainstream like the Mini or Morris Minor, a working tool like the Land Rover or an out-and-out work of lunacy such as any TVR or Ultima you care to mention, there is that wonderfully hedonistic mix of engineering resourcefulness, character and uncertainty as to whether a catastrophic electrical fault will render the whole thing useless at a very important moment. And they can all point to providing a platform of technology, performance, fun and inspiration from which the rest of the world has taken up the baton and run.

For a country that has to deal with its recent cultural contributions including dwarf-tossing rugby teams, Simon Cowell and a fat Lancastrian TV freak show, it should be wonderfully reassuring to be reminded that the strains of national influence can be seen in so much of what makes the world great today.

So while the rest of the world may have been left flummoxed by a very British Olympic opening ceremony, it should come as no surprise that the locals have taken it – and its creator – to their hearts. Oh Danny Boyle, oh Danny Boyle, they love you so.

Read, Learn and Digest

May 21st, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Y&R Dubai, the people responsible for the media glorification of Land Rover in the Middle East have come up with a novel idea this week by offering customers a Landy branded survival guide that can be eaten. Made of potato starch and the kind of culinary black magic one would more usually associate with Heston Blumenthal the book is claimed to offer a nutritional boost similar to that of a cheeseburger. Although as most cheeseburgers available on the average high street contain less dietary benefits than the packaging they are served in, this is perhaps a reasonably modest boast.

But up to the point of consumption, the book also offers all kinds of helpful hints with regard to survival in the Arabian wilds – camping, hunting and other such acts of Bear Gryllsishness – should you happen to find yourself suddenly stranded. Which is perhaps just a teensy bit of a publicity gamble; after all if you were the manufacturer one of the world’s most prestigious off-roaders, surely you wouldn’t want to be drawing attention to the fact that a little jolly into the desert behind the wheel of said off-roader is likely to end so badly that you will be compelled to eat a book?

Nevertheless, the marketing ploy seems to have gone down very well and as such it can only be a matter of time before the book becomes the de rigueur marketing tool for all of Land Rovers’ global territories. And that’s great for other barren, inhospitable lands in which owners of newly incapacitated Landys are likely to be immediately facing a harsh environment, deadly creatures and the risk of attack by locals who don’t fully grasp the pleasantries of Western civilisation – Australia for example – but I can’t help worrying that one or two man points may be lost when it comes to penning the New Zealand edition.

Goes down well with a Sheikh

Now I know that there are some rural areas where it can be an absolute bugger to get a mobile phone signal and I doubt it would be very pleasant having to spend a night up one of the higher mountains in South Island without the proper thermal underwear, but in all honesty the chances of facing either of those predicaments as the result of a Land Rover breaking down are somewhere between slim and zero. That’s not to say I have any great faith in Land Rover to suddenly reverse their woeful historical record in reliability surveys, but rather that I’m pretty damn confident no-one who bought one would even consider going anywhere so inhospitable in the first place.

Land Rovers have come a long way from their humble, working roots. Designed as a utilitarian, go-anywhere tool, they have evolved into a style icon for people who want to show the world that they have really made it in life. These are people who are far too busy dropping the children off at horse riding lessons or dashing to their next pilates session to be forging a trail into the wilderness. And even if there was time, apparently the wilderness doesn’t come with the option of a business class upgrade, which simply won’t do.

Providing such people with a book on the art of survival would be as much use as giving a dartboard to a fish and therefore Land Rover will have to tailor their tome to suit the local market. How to survive when the local delicatessen is closed and you only have access to a Pak n’ Save, finding your way back to Remuera without the aid of a GPS and how to signal for assistance when it’s too noisy in the wine bar for the waiter to hear you.

And in the remote chance things get so bad that the book should have to be eaten, an emergency directory of all the places where a good latté can be bought to wash it down.

Uzbekistan Discovered

April 16th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Land Rover’s Journey of Discovery reaches Uzbekistan. They filed this update:

“With its toughest border crossing behind it the Journey of Discovery rolled into Uzbekistan at 2.30am with the need for sleep at the top of everyone’s agenda.

“On the other hand, it now meant we were heading into Uzbekistan in the pitch dark with a howling blizzard pulling visibility down to almost zero. Better still, we were supposed to be camping, as there are no hotels of any description in the Uzbek desert.

“As we mentally prepared for a freezing night under frosted canvas, someone struck on the idea of knocking on a few doors.

“They had travelled this region before, spoke enough of the language to be understood, and thought we stood a chance of finding a floor to sleep on thanks to the Uzbeks’ long tradition of great hospitality, especially in the country’s remoter corners.

“An hour later we were inside a cracked and peeling brick-built shack with two dogs, three rooms and an incredible smell wafting from the kitchen as the occupants, a family of four, brought out the local vodka for the non-drivers and made tea and dinner for us. The building looked as desolate as could be from the outside in the bitter darkness, yet inside the warmth and welcome were beyond belief.

“Waking a few short hours later and Continue reading “Uzbekistan Discovered” »

Journey of Discovery Enters Asia

April 3rd, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

A massive snowstorm that blocked 1000 kms of road between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan only temporarily delayed Land Rover’s Journey of Discovery as it crossed from Europe into Asia.

But the one millionth Discovery produced and the three similar vehicles were soon under way again, now more than half way to Beijing after starting the journey in Birmingham.

Earlier the party had driven into a once top-secret nuclear submarine base that was the operational home for the fearsome Soviet Black Sea Fleet at Balaklava on Ukraine’s Crimean coast.

Buried beneath a mountain it took nine years to build and its entrance was camouflaged from view from any spy plane. It could survive a direct nuclear hit and the vast subs that slunk in and out of here between tours of duty could enter and leave underwater, keeping them from prying eyes at all times.

The Discoveries were given unique authorisation to drive through the labyrinth of tunnels inside. They were the first to do so since the Soviet trucks and trailers that ferried in missiles, supplies and essentials over its 40 years of operation.

Driving through the cavernous entrance carved into the heavy rock of the mountain was pure James Bond. The submarine channel was a kilometre long and the dry dock another 100 metres. The hideaway could accommodate six submarines at once.

Every possible measure was taken to keep the base secretive from the outside world too. This included removing Balaklava from all maps in 1957 (it would be 1992 before it reappeared). As well as the submarine channel, all the tunnels were curved for blast protection in the event of attack from the West.

Rolling back out into the sunlight of Balaklava’s bay was almost as odd as driving in had been.

Later after leaving a sleeping Moscow early one morning the Journey of Discovery headed to Volgograd – previously known as Stalingrad – the site of one of the bloodiest battles on the Eastern front in the Second World War. On a largely featureless road, save for pothole swerving motorists and occasional blizzards, the Discoverys shrugged off the 1000 kms day effortlessly.

From Volgograd the route followed Europe’s largest river – the Volga, towards the last official Russian stop of Astrakhan, near the Caspian Sea.

From Astrakhan, the Journey of Discovery headed into Kazakhstan, entering the most remote and testing part of the 12,865 kms route and the massive snowstorm. Thoughts of blizzards faded with the Kazakh sun as the team left Europe for Asia and Atyrau.

After an overnight in Atyrau the four Discovery headed towards its most unpredictable border yet. With reports of the crossing taking anything from hours to days the team apprehensively set out for Uzbekistan, the smooth roads turning to hard-packed, pock-marked mud as the border approached.

Countless lorries queuing signalled the approach of the control, the Journey of Discovery taking advantage of Land Rover’s extraordinary capability and taking a more creative, off-road route to the frontier. After a relatively swift six hour wait the Journey of Discovery set off at midnight into Uzbekistan looking for somewhere to stay, and the promise of adventures ahead.

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