Tag Archive | "Land Rover"

Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

On the very day the Land Rover Freelander 2 featured here was delivered for review by Motor Blogger, the very first Discovery Sport – the replacement for the venerable compact all-rounder – rolled off the production line. This doesn’t mean that reviewing the out-going car is a waste of time though because it continues to have much to recommend it as a great used car buy.6 300x192 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

I wondered if the Evoque may have taken some of the sales share away from the older car – given that they share engines and some mechanicals – but this isn’t the case, according to Land Rover. Since the original Freelander first appeared in 1997, the company have sold almost a million worldwide as at the end of 2013.

Indeed, 13859 of them were purchased by UK customers during 2013 so clearly the demand for this practical and versatile car remains.

2 300x205 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco SportAs the Freelander exits through the gift shop over the next few months the range has been pared down accordingly. Our vehicle was in fully loaded Metropolis trim with Indus Silver paint, Windsor Leather Ebony Seats, Ebony interior with Grand Black Veneer all set off by some fetching 19” Alloy Diamond Turned wheels. Our car came with the optional full-sized spare wheel – a must have for peace of mind I think. At around £35,000, this is not a cheap car but it is a very complete and able one. Land Rover reckon 40mpg should be possible on the combined cycle and that seems reasonable after a week of mixed use.

The first thing you notice is how tall you sit in the saddle affording the driver with a clear all-round view. Certainly, there’s a degree of body roll and I felt the steering was over-light, but the car always feels safe and predictable, plus there’s plenty of grip from the permanent four-wheel drive. Power is derived from the torquey 188bhp 2.2L SD4 turbo diesel via an excellent auto gearbox that always seems to select the right gear. I didn’t feel the need to switch to the paddles.

The Freelander is about cruising comfort. It’s good to drive on road. The suspension easily smooths out our ruined roads, There’s a pared-down version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system on board, which adjusts the traction control according to the conditions meaning that this car can handle all but the most difficult gnarly stuff with ease, which is why it scores well against the more road-oriented vehicles from other car makers.3 300x195 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

Inside, the Freelander has benefited from Land Rover’s overall upmarket trend. The dashboard is a high-quality affair, with soft-touch materials and metal trim. As mentioned there’s no Terrain Response dial like you’ll find in a Discovery; instead you get a pair of buttons which scroll through the various transmission settings, which is fine.

The interior benefits from deep door pockets, a decent-sized glove compartment and plenty of storage cubbies, so there’s no shortage of space. The boot is massive offering 755 litres of space, which expands to a cavernous 1,670 litres when the standard-fit split-fold seats are folded down flat. The lack of a seven-seat option does limit the Freelander 2’s flexibility and overall people-carrying ability compared to some but the brilliant existing Discovery fulfils that brief anyway.

Although in some ways it is starting to show its age I still think the Freelander laughs in the face of more trendy opposition secure in the knowledge that is part of a legendary heritage. Still a great choice.Land Rover Discovery Sport 2015 0051 300x184 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

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Range Rover Evoque – Something Special

The Evoque is the glamorous junior member of the Land Rover family of prestige SUV‘s. The gauges on our car featured ‘crystal’ effect markers that turned red in dynamic mode. Your editor was a little uneasy about this at first as being a bit OTT but otherwise there isn’t even a hint of tanning salon about it.

Ev1 Range Rover Evoque   Something SpecialThe model featured in the image is in five door Prestige trim with a splendid two-tone paint job and a smart interior. Although this car came with some luxury accoutrements and elegant on-road manners it was perfectly capable of a serious foray onto the rough stuff.

The Evoque has been one of the most successful Land Rover vehicles ever made. It helps that the car loaned to Motor Blogger costs just over £40,000 basic plus, in this case, around £10k’s worth of options that buyers will actually want. A good deal given what you get for the money, especially considering the baby Range Rover has made further leaps forward with the introduction of a host of new technologies. These enhancements lower fuel consumption by up to 11.4 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 9.5 percent – depending on model – and bring a range of new comfort, convenience and connectivity features.

Customers ordering vehicles from the 2014 range, will benefit from some new features, including a  truly brilliant new 9-speed automatic transmission that delivers improved economy, reduced emissions, enhanced performance. First shown at the Geneva Motor Show last year, the ZF-9HP automatic transmission is among the world’s first 9-speed units fitted to a passenger car. It has an ultra-fast response time and an adaptive shift programme that quickly matches the driving style.

The Evoque comes in four trim levels all of which are available in both 5-door and Coupe versions. As alluded to above, you have to add a bundle of additional cash to get the desirable extras. On this car these included the Intelligent Pack for £700 which features Water-wade sensing, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and  Headlamps  with Automatic High Beam Assist. By way of an extra flex of the plastic, buyers can also have the Lux Pack for a healthy £4,650. This offers a powered tailgate, fixed panoramic roof and a rather good 825w Meridian sound system.

The pack also includes a dual view touchscreen and digital television plus a surround camera system with tow assist, blind spot monitor, keyless entry, parallel parking and good old climate control. That should be enough to keep everyone occupied.

The driver though will not be thinking about any of this because he will be having too good a time driving the thing. This is because the Evoque can, in true Range Rover fashion, be set up to cope with a variety of terrain and surfaces but, importantly, it also has a ‘dynamic’ mode which offers car-like handling and driving characteristics for day to day motoring.

There’s the option of a powerful 240hp 2.0L petrol engine but most buyers will want either the eco eD4 150PS version of the 2.2L diesel for best economy or the perfect compromise, the same engine in SD4 mode with 190PS and auto stop-start which is the best choice. By avoiding a tendency to go heavy with the right foot drivers could well see 40mpg from this big car.

As you would expect, the interior is superb. Leather – obviously – with very comfortable and multi-adjustable seats and steering wheel. As can be seen from the image the centre consul is well laid out with most functions accessed through the touch screen. Drive is chosen from the now familiar rising selector. This is a very special car indeed and worthy of consideration – if you can afford it.

Ev2 Range Rover Evoque   Something Special

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5 Great British Drives

Britain is a nation of car and travel lovers and, unsurprisingly, we are always on the lookout for new places to discover. This article will take a look into 5 of the best roads to explore in the whole country and, naturally, they are all located far from the everyday rush hour locations.

1. Buttertubs Pass – Yorkshire Dales:

Not one for the faint of heart, the Buttertubs Pass was once described by Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson as England’s ‘one spectacular road’ and we can see what he means. There are a number of steep cliffs which offer up stunning panoramic views, in addition to enough twists and turns that might make you feel like you’re driving through Monaco. The whole pass takes around 10 minutes to drive and is a shade over 5 miles in length and will be used in the 2014 Tour de France. It is definitely not one to leave you disappointed with its interestingcraggy landscape, though caution is advised particularly around some of the bends.

2. A537: Cat ‘n’ Fiddle

The so-called ‘cat ‘n’ fiddle’ road is another tricky, but beautiful road that begs to be driven. Located slightly south of the Buttertubs Pass, in Derbyshire, this has been named one of the most dangerous roads in the country, due to the sheer number of bends. A firm favouriteamong classic car owners, what could be better than a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon cruising around the corners in a best of British car such as a Bentley rental or an Aston Martin?

3. A272:

Heading south to the beautiful drive between Horsham and Winchester is probably the best drive for those living in one of the most populated areas of the country. On a quiet Sunday morning, you can really appreciate the large stretch of road in front of you and enjoy the surrounding Hampshire countryside. There are plenty of interesting bends and long straight stretches, whilst another highlight of this 1 hour 15 minute drive is that you pass the South Downs National Park, among the most beautiful nature spots in the whole country. One final advantage of this road compared to some of the others on this list is that there are plenty of market towns to stop off and visit.

4. Black Mountain Road: A4069

This is Wales’ offering in this list, and what a stunning road to experience. During low season this offers one of the best driving opportunities in the world, with little to no traffic and just an open, winding road in front of you. The quieter periods also allow you time to sit and admire the landscapes, including the flat top of Black Mountain itself. The A4069 is again around the 5 mile length and should be number one on anybody’s list if they are heading to Wales this year. In the winter months it is generally a quiet road and provides a great driving experience, although it is perhaps advisable to take a vehicle which can handle the British weather. A Range Rover would be the perfect example of this.

5. A896: Pass of the Cattle

To finish off this list, it is only natural to add a Scottish road into the equation. Perhaps the best place in Britain to drive is Scotland, given that away from the major cities there is simply more space to explore. The A896 is one road which simply begs to be explored, with fantastic bends which lead down to beautiful lochs, there is plenty to see. It also has the added advantage of being in the Scottish highlands, so it is unlikely that you will encounter too many other road users unless you go in July or August.

These are simply five of the many enjoyable roads to explore in Great Britain and whilst it is sometimes difficult to imagine a pleasant drive when you are stuck in traffic at 7.30 in the morning, it is good to know that there still remain some roads on which we can have a bit more fun.

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‘Start Off-Road’ Scheme For Young Drivers

In a burst of insane thinking that might also be a good idea, those mad impetuous fools at Land Rover have devised the ‘Start Off-Road’ scheme for young would-be drivers between the ages of eleven and seventeen.

What’s more, they’re allow these kids to have the keys to a Range Rover Evoque. Don’t worry though, they will not be allowed on the road. It’s track and field only for them.

Seems like a plan. Anything that instils into young drivers a sense of their our ability and handling skills coupled with a sense of responsibility has got to be a good thing. They will experience true off-road driving, that will teach them skills and techniques that they will go on to utilise throughout their future years both on and off road, helping to develop skills and techniques that they will go on to utilise throughout their future years both on and off road.

Participants have the chance to experience driving techniques including basics such as steering, braking and reversing, as well as more advanced skills such as climbing and descending hills, crossing ditches and ridges, negotiating ruts, wet grass and mud, and even crossing water.

The idea is based on statistical evidence that younger drivers pick up new skills easier and are more open to learning good driving habits. By instilling into them the basics and sound principles of good practice it is hoped that they will gain invaluable experience for later in life.

And then of course there’s the Range Rover Evoque which these kids are going to get to drive whilst the rest of us have our metaphoric noses pressed up against the outside of the window looking in. Each Range Rover Evoque is fitted with dual controls for safety as well as an automatic gearbox, and a dedicated team of instructors are on hand to take participants through every scenario. Parents can also take part in the activity. Expect many to sign up for the schemes in and around the Midlands and South.

In preparing would-be young drivers in this way, not only does it, as mentioned, add skills but it also gives instructors the chance to develop good practice. Overall, this is excellent news from Land Rover and is to be welcomed.

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Women In Hard Hats Shock

Amazingly, here in the 21st Century, some people – mentioning no names – still view the existence of women in industry holding down jobs that are, in the opinion of these Luddites, the domain of men. The sight of a female wearing a high-viz jacket and a hard hat seems to throw them into a paroxysm of distaste. What is the world coming to, etc. It is funny how, nearly two hundred years on, Victorian values still stick in some minds.

Thankfully, modern employers don’t feel that way and will select the right man for the job even if it is a woman. The good news then from Land Rover is that they are actively seeking out female students to apply for its new scholarship programme for young women looking to pursue a career in engineering.

The scholarship is worth some nine thousand pounds to each of three lucky beneficiaries over a period of three years, thus providing a small but useful source of income during the training.

The campaign was launched by none other than Zara Philips (Tindall) who spoke of the service by her Grandmother who worked as a mechanical engineer in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during wartime. She also made reference to her Mother, the Princess Anne, who is patron of WISE; an organisation that helps young women achieve jobs in engineering. The scholarship highlights Land Rover’s commitment to increasing the number of female engineers in the UK. Numbers are small just now, but rising slowly.

According to a report published by Engineering UK, Britain needs to double the number of engineering graduates and triple the number of engineering apprentices by 2020 to meet industry needs. At present, just thirteen per cent of engineering undergraduates are female, a problem Land Rover is determined to address. In addition to the Range Rover Evoque WISE Scholarship (to give it its full name), Land Rover already runs specific training schemes to support ambitious female engineers.

The Range Rover Evoque WISE Scholarship is funded by the 2012 MacRobert Award, the premier UK award for engineering. The judges credited the ingenuity of the Land Rover engineers who succeeded in packaging key components under the vehicle floor, “with millimetre accuracy”.

This is good news for industry and good news for women. Maybe we will see true equality within the autmotive sector in the coming years and are finally able to drop the expression, ‘jobs for the boys’.

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Range Rover Sport & The Pikes Peak Challenge

On the 20th March Motor Blogger reported that the new Range Rover Sport was to be officially announced at the New York Show on the 26th of that month and, as if by magic, it was. Since then it has been gathering plaudits from all sides as being all things to all men and doing those things very well indeed.

Land Rover engineers have pulled off something a bit special. This car is apparently terrific off-road as you’d expect whilst being smooth and calm when ferrying the ankle-biters around town yet still manages to be a great drive. Obviously it’s no sports car but, for a vehicle this size, it makes for very rapid progress with handling characteristics you’d expect from a smaller motor. It’s even the perfect car for driving mud-splattered Labradors up and down motorways.

To prove the merits of the Sport still further Land Rover have decided that it will undertake various challenges around the world in the toughest of environments. The first of these challenges was to pit the car against the might of the Pikes Peak hill-climb in Colorado – ‘The Race To The Clouds’.

This is an event that has been going on now for some 91 years and has shown itself to be the ultimate test of man and machine. It is 12.42 miles of snaking road with 156 corners that clings to the side of a mountain. The actual challenge takes place on June 30th and a host of vehicles are taking part. Even World Champion rally driver Seb Loeb is having a go in a Peugeot 208 T16 with a massive wing and a front spoiler the size of a giant’s snow shovel.

To test the driving merits of the Range Rover Sport an ace American racer and stunt driver called Paul Dallenbach set a new record for a production standard SUV by piloting the thing up the hill in just 12 minutes 35.61 seconds; that’s an average speed of 59.17mph on a highly tortuous and dangerous route.RR2 Range Rover Sport & The Pikes Peak Challenge

Dallenbach used the version with the 5.0L supercharged V8 engine, obviously. A roll cage and full harness was fitted (look for Pikes Peak videos to find out why) but otherwise it’s the car you and I would buy if we had the £51k plus that is needed at the bottom of the price list. Most drivers will probably settle for the V6 diesel. Fortunately that’s no slouch either.

This new Range Rover benefits from the lighter underpinnings of its big brother and a mostly aluminium construction meaning it tips the scales by 800lbs less than its predecessor. No wonder it’s fast.

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Holiday Home From Home

This is the time of year when the caravans of Britain make their annual appearance on our roads and as usual they are sure to polarise opinion. Some drivers will become instantly enraged or frustrated as soon as they see that swaying fibreglass rear end far in the distance. This will happen even if the driver is himself off on a family holiday to a static ‘van based at the coast.

Most drivers, however, will understand that a caravan makes a lot of sense for UK vacations, especially during these hard financial times. As a consequence their popularity is increasing despite the murderous movie ‘Sightseers’! Modern caravans range from functional to luxurious and make an ideal base to explore Britain and Europe.

The choice of tow-car can be critical. Most cars are capable of towing a ‘van but in truth some are probably unsuitable. It is usual for manufacturers to quote maximum towing weights which should be the starting point of any buying decision. It is both illegal and dangerous to breach that figure. The vehicle doesn’t have to be large but it should have a strong engine which ideally would be a diesel for the extra pulling torque they can deliver.

The choice is large. Some people prefer to choose to use panel vans or pick-ups but most ‘vans will be seen behind family sized cars.  Possibly the ideal vehicle would be the Land Rover Discovery. The latest version has a feature called the ‘Trailer Stability Assist’. This automatically detects the presence of a hooked-up trailer. Once a speed of thirty seven miles per hour is reached this device monitors the behaviour of the caravan and uses selective braking to counter any swaying or other unsuitable movements. It’s the perfect safe towing feature.

The snag with the Discovery is the price. Lesser mortals may have to settle for something like a Volkswagen Passat or even a Golf – which was an award winner in the entry level class up to 1424kg. The VW 2.0L diesel is a fine engine that packs real towing punch. Broadly speaking, the heavier the caravan the bigger the vehicle should be to tow it, but it all depends on the manufacturers figure and, of course, the law.

Finding a tow-car is the first step towards a caravanning holiday but there is still much to learn. In essence, the driver is in control of not one but two vehicles. Any novice who has tried reversing with any sort of trailer will attest to how tricky this can be and how quickly things can go seriously pear-shaped!

Since 1998 all subsequently registered vehicles, their tow-bars and tow-balls must be type-approved and all electrics and lights should be fully connected. Any hint of transgression will find the unwary driver at the side of the road with blue lights reflected in the sleek flanks of the prized  caravan. Caravanning is a great way to take the family on holiday but it is not something to try on a whim.

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New Range Rover Sport Revealed This Month

What, you might well ask, is the purpose of the new Range Rover Sport which will be officially announced at the end of this month. Well, it sits between the mighty Range Rover flagship and the outstandingly rugged Discovery and does in fact have a purpose all of its own. Essentially, as the name suggests, it is a sportier version of its majestic namesake. Whereas the purpose of the Range Rover is for unashamed luxury coupled with real off-road ability so the Sport is designed with keen drivers in mind.

The Sport is a more involving drive with a firmer ride and a generally more dynamic feel on the road, although its mud-plugging skills are hardly diminished. Think of it, if you like, as a cross between the Range Rover and the Evoque – the best of both worlds. Land Rover believe it is their most responsive and agile vehicle yet.

The car will be revealed to the world at the New York Auto Show on the 26th March. Presumably they are presenting it there because Americans are the biggest market for this particular variant; in fact, it is LR’s biggest seller in the States.

Although the two RR cars seem very similar there are in fact a lot of differences both cosmetic and technical. The Sport has a sloping roofline and a bigger rear spoiler for example. There will be five and seven seat versions, although the extra two seats are likely to be for occasional use only. The interior is obviously Range Rover influenced but instead of the rotary dial the Sport will feature a stubby gear selector instead.

The most significant change is hidden from view. The previous Sport used the Integrated Body Frame chassis from the Discovery but the new version will instead be based on the aluminium chassis of the Range Rover. This will clearly result in a weight saving which should be noticed in both handling and economy.

The Range Rover is the definitive off-road vehicle and it will remain unchallenged in that department. If the Sport is to have improved road and driving manners then its rough terrain performance must be at least slightly compromised. That’s not to say that it won’t be way better than many rivals. It isn’t confirmed at the time of writing but LR may well fit the Terrain Response System from the bigger car. Either way, its prowess on the gnarly stuff is unlikely to be found wanting.

It certainly looks like Land Rover have done it again. The Sport will undoubtedly be in demand in the showrooms, especially as the prices will start from a round a reasonable £55,000. Another winner from Gaydon.

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New Freelander – The Best Yet

At the time of writing it is early in the morning and very cold. It is so cold that there’s a brass monkey at the door trying to borrow some welding equipment. The problem with the UK is that the weather is so variable it is hard to know what sort of car to buy. For example, many drivers would love a sports car for that wind in your hair / open skies thrill; but is it worth it for three days a year? Probably not, in which case – on the basis that the weather is more likely to be against us – why not buy a Freelander instead?

As luck would have it there’s a new version. That’s it in the image. Clearly in keeping with the family look, it is a marked improvement on the previous model which, although good, is beginning to look a bit dated and hasn‘t been as well regarded or as capable as its bigger siblings off road. Land Rover are very confident about the abilities of this new car however. Recently tested in conditions much worse than we can expect in this country it came up trumps in all departments.

For starters, it looks good with styling cues found on the Range Rover and Evoque. The Freelander also gains the Evoque software for the terrain response and hill descent functions. Throttle response is governed by a choice of four surface settings – grass, gravel and snow are lumped together and there is also a choice of asphalt, mud and sand. This just about covers all eventualities. There is no diff-lock or low range ‘box but this is the baby of the family after all and with prices starting at around a very reasonable £26000 (2WD will be a bit cheaper), it’s to be expected that some technology found on the other cars will be missing. Most users won’t miss them.

Power now comes from a 2.2L diesel engine configured at 148bhp in the TD4 version and a more beefy 188bhp in the SD4 model. There are no petrol engines on offer but in this type of vehicle most buyers would undoubtedly choose the oil-burner in any case. As we’ve come to expect in these frugal days there will also be an economy version – the eD4 – which offers a thrifty 47mpg. This is more likely to be suited to customers who rarely venture into the rough. Real mud-pluggers need the sort of torque that only a diesel can really deliver.

As you’d expect the interior has also been refurbished to a high standard, pinching the Evoque’s colour touch screen in the process. This features all the usual infotainment gadgetry plus the very useful rear view reversing camera – a bonus in a big car. For users of caravans or trailers there‘s even a ‘hitch-assist’ gizmo which superimposes a graphic to show the exact position of the tow-ball.

In a market segment that includes the Volvo XC60 and similar offerings from Audi and BMW, the Freelander will have to show that it is the model to buy. It certainly competes on price and early road tests are saying that Land Rover are onto another winner.

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Just Like The Real Thing

Virtually anything is possible. Your avatar can travel to foreign lands and meet exotic people or do battle with sabre-toothed monsters. You can acquire enemies and a massive gun with which to shoot-em-up or you can be a passenger in WRC rally car as it hurtles down narrow forest tracks. The world is yours.

Now, especially if you are a fan of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) stable of vehicles, you can experience your heart’s desire before you finally decide to buy it, thanks to some clever boffins down at the factory.

Virtual Experience, as it is called, first featured on the JLR stands at the Paris Motor Show this year. Basically, it is a digital showroom that utilises a 1:1 scale representation of any JLR model configured just how you’d like it. The screen show the results in glorious ultra high resolution 3D with no less than five million polygons, whatever they are. Once set up the potential buyer can ‘explore’ the vehicles using natural movements and gestures.

The science might be complicated but the application of it is not. All that’s needed is a big display screen and a computer that can be set up anywhere that’s suitable. It would seem to be a great addition to the showroom, for example, or spaces where it isn’t possible to feature a real car.

The company believe that it could, in one form or another, be rolled out to mobile devices in due course. The upshot of this would be that a client could design his ideal configuration at home and ‘present’ it to Virtual Experience.

This is very impressive. The chance to be able to see and move around the product of your imagination is very desirable indeed and may put paid to some otherwise questionable styling decisions by the customer. It is very unlikely that a dealer will have access to demonstrators across the range, so before even arranging a test drive it will be possible to ‘see’ your car. Just like the real thing, in fact.

This particular technology belongs to Jaguar Land Rover but how long do you think it will be before all the other manufacturers have something similar? It is certainly a remarkable sales aid and a great advantage to the customer. Sadly it is not yet possible to see how Tulisa would look sitting in the passenger seat. A serious oversight – JLR please note.

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