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.

Range Rover Evoque Dynamic TD4 Review

March 29th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

The thought of driving 420km with two boxes of badly packed crockery didn’t fill me with excitement. I’d planned to take the iPod with 100 Hits of the ‘80s to drown out the constant clattering with some Whitney, Prefab Sprout and Starship.

However, I shouldn’t have feared because despite roading contractors making blacktop as smooth as Dan Carter’s abs, the Range Rover Evoque soaked up the bumps while Michael Jackson asked, “Can you feel it?” I couldn’t feel it or hear it. Not only are you extraordinarily well insulated from road noise and engine noise, the smooth ride meant I didn’t need to crank up the stereo because the crockery wasn’t clattering.

The Evoque is Range Rover’s baby SUV. It gets you into the luxury SUV segment for quite a bit less than a full-fledged Range Rover Sport or Vogue (as little as $80,000, but you’ll probably spend the best part of Continue reading “Range Rover Evoque Dynamic TD4 Review” »

Jaguar and Land Rover to make move on Chinese market

October 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Following the path cut by other luxury carmakers, Jaguar and Land Rover are gearing up for a full scale assault on the Chinese market.  Despite a cooling international market, the Chinese have a strong appetite for foreign luxury cars and Jaguar/Land Rover want a piece of the action.

Earlier this year there were reports that Jaguar and Land Rover owner, Tata Motors, would invest heavily in the two brands in order to improve their sales. It was also revealed that Tata was considering options for assembly and localization of selected Jaguar Land Rover products in China.

But it’s not easy getting a foothold in the Chinese market, you can’t just roll in and build a manufacturing plant. According to the Chinese law, you need to have a local partner. Which leaves JLR looking at possible joint ventures. Apparently,  JLR has decided to form a partnership with Chery, and the two companies are already seeking approval from local authorities to go ahead with their business plan. Continue reading “Jaguar and Land Rover to make move on Chinese market” »

Jaguar Land Rover to bulid $700 million engine plant

September 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Jaguar Land Rover is to build a US$700 million new, state-of-the-art advanced engine facility at Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton in the English Midlands. It will manufacture a family of all-new advanced technology low emission 4-cylinder JLR petrol and diesel engines.

Following a successful Frankfurt International Motor Show and recent discussions between Jaguar Land Rover and UK Government ministers, JLR has confirmed a US$700 million investment in a new facility to manufacture all-new,low-emissions engines in the UK.

The new advanced engine facility will be built at i54 South Staffordshire, a business park near Wolverhampton in the UK’s Midlands.

“As part of our long-term strategy for the JLR business, we will design, engineer and manufacture a new family of advanced engines. This is a major commitment for our company and we will produce these advanced, highly-efficient engines for future Jaguar and Land Rover models at a new facility in the UK” said Dr Ralf Speth, the chief executive officer of JLR. Continue reading “Jaguar Land Rover to bulid $700 million engine plant” »

Land Rover shows two Defender concepts at Frankfurt

September 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For sixty two years old the Defender has been put through a variety of duties around the world and now Land Rover is getting busy developing its replacement. To show fans its progress Land Rover has just revealed two dashing new concepts for the iconic Defender at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Named DC100 and DC100 Sport, the two concepts showcase the direction and thinking behind the ongoing development of the new Land Rover Defender, intended for production in 2015.

Defender purists have always respected the off-road machines rugged ability and simplicity, that’s why almost 2 million units have been sold over the years. Land Rover Director, John Edwards, was quick to reassure fans that the Defender’s core character will remain unchanged.

“The Defender was loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design,” says Edwards. “We are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage while meeting the requirements of a changing global market.” Continue reading “Land Rover shows two Defender concepts at Frankfurt” »

NZ-bound Range Rover Evoque previewed in Auckland

September 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new Range Rover Evoque isn’t due to go on sale in NZ till November but was given a sneak preview at an Auckland event last night. Land Rover customers and interested parties checked out the striking design of the new SUV at Archibald and Shorter Roverland in Greenlane.

When the compact luxury off-roader arrives in NZ it will be available with a choice of three engines, two body styles, three design themes and a range of options and accessories. The body shapes are a five-door and 2-door coupe with the design themes being Pure, Dynamic and Prestige. Standard features will include push button start, electric park brake, rear parking aid, colour TFT information screen, 6/4 way adjustable electric seats. Optional equipment include three contrasting roof treatments, seven alloy wheel designs, 16 contrasting interiors and a full sized, fixed, panoramic glass roof. Continue reading “NZ-bound Range Rover Evoque previewed in Auckland” »

Land Rover previews next Defender with DC100 concept

September 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Land Rover Defender is an automotive icon and one of the most recognisable cars in the world so replacing it is no easy feat. But Land Rover is busy making plans to do exactly that and has just revealed its first concept – the DC100.

Scheduled for its first public showing at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, the DC100 concept gives a glimpse of the styling which may feature on the Defender replacement in 2015.

Commenting on the DC100 concept car, Land Rover’s design boss, Gerry McGovern, said, “Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide. This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.” Continue reading “Land Rover previews next Defender with DC100 concept” »

Land Rover hands over fleet of Rugby World Cup vehicles

August 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Last Friday, Land Rover handed over a special fleet of vehicles to Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) in a ceremony outside Eden Park Stadium. As Official Vehicle of the Rugby World Cup, Land Rover has provided 30 vehicles to tournament organisers and officials. This special fleet is made up of Range Rover Sports and Land Rover Discoverys.

The vehicles have been specially customised with RWC branding, number plates and commemorative badging to celebrate the association throughout New Zealand.

Kit McConnell, Tournament Director of RWCL, was presented with the fleet by Land Rover at Eden Park, which will host the first game on Friday 9th September. “The provision of the Official Vehicles by Land Rover is key to the successful running of the Rugby World Cup and will be put to good use to ensure that the Tournament is run smoothly over the next couple of months,” said Mr McConnell.

In addition to the vehicles being supplied to the RWCL, Land Rover is also supplying another 42 vehicles for Land Rover VIPs and international media use during the tournament, bringing the total number of Land Rovers and Range Rovers imported specifically for the tournament to 72. Continue reading “Land Rover hands over fleet of Rugby World Cup vehicles” »