A range of Land Rovers

Just wondering, what is the collective noun for a group of Land Rovers?

Today I went to the Land Rover Experience centre at Luton Hoo. This was an event organised by a local LR dealer through a forum I belong to, so everyone attending was an owner or driver of one Land Rover model or another. The car park was simply stuffed with Land Rovers! We set off in convoy, the idea being that we drove a circuit of the technical course then we stopped and everyone swapped cars so that we all got to drive every model by the end of the afternoon.

So I started off in the Evoque. The chassis and running gear is fairly similar to my Freelander so it was interesting to see how it handled and dealt with the various obstacles. Overall impressions? Very capable, with loads of gizmos, such as cameras covering every exterior angle. I wouldn’t buy one.

At the first changeover I found myself in the Defender. I love this car. Unlike all the others it is very basic (and the only one in the LRE fleet with a manual box) and totally involving. Very old school. Driven well it can tackle anything. I want one.

Next up, the Range Rover. I’m not sure what trim level it was except that the instructor said it cost £125K. What an awesome car, especially after the Defender. It was unbelievably smooth and quiet even over the roughest ground. Everything was automatic, even the terrain response and ride height was selected automatically as it sensed changes in terrain. As I said to my instructor, if Bentley were to make an off-roader  I imagine this is what it would be like.

At the next changeover I climbed into the Discovery. It was a surprise to find how different it was to the Range Rover. It felt enormous to begin with but I soon realised  (a) that it wasn’t as big as it looked and (b) how easy it was to manoeuvre. Unlike the others it even had a separate Terrain Response setting for “Rock Crawl” which as the name suggests proved very useful for negotiating the rocky boulder field.

The last one of the day for me was the Range Rover Sport. Unsurprisingly it had some very clever programs for on-road “sporty” driving but that wasn’t something we concerned ourselves with today! Its off-road capability was just as good as the Range Rover and Discovery and, because it was the last drive of the afternoon, I was able to spend more time in this model than the others. I was able to try out more of the tricky and interesting sections, do some wading and try to perfect my hill climbs and descents, including reversing uphill. Can I have one of these as well?

Sadly, the afternoon’s fun came to an end and we returned to the LRE base for tea and medals. Meanwhile, the instructors had to queue up with their mud covered vehicles whilst we went indoors and had some tea and yummy fruit cake.

A Bloody Marvellous afternoon! 🙂

Driving a Defender off-road

When I bought my Freelander, the dealer gave me a voucher for a half-day Land Rover Experience.

Today was the day. 🙂

I went with Bob, my geocaching buddy, to the Land Rover Experience at the Luton Hoo Estate. We spent a very happy afternoon driving a Land Rover Defender 110 through some challenging terrain sections. We had to conquer extremely  steep hills which I didn’t think we’d get up (or down!), a section where the Defender was leaning over so much I fully expected it to fall on its side, plus boulder fields and other hazards. We negotiated narrow trails through woodland, the Defender’s rear end squirming in the mud, and chased flocks of Partridge and Pheasant which for some inexplicable reason refused to simply fly out of our path.

Defender on a woodland trail

Hopefully I’ve learnt some skills which I can apply in my own vehicle (always assuming I’m brave enough). Although we were in the completely capable Defender and not a Freelander, our instructor was keen to point out manoeuvres we’d just completed saying “Your Freelander can do that”. Except for The Big Hill. That one was Defender-only territory.

Sum up: A bloody good day, and when can I do it again?

If you’re interested, this is where we went: www.london.landroverexperience.co.uk.