Range Rover launch event or Cropley’s new dream garage?
L460-generation SUV is better than ever before
Even for a car lover whose views change as often as mine, it’s a big thing to find yourself writing that a particular car has changed your life. But that’s how I feel about the new Range Rover, in which I was able to drive 150 miles this week, including for an hour on the muddy tracks and through the lush woods of Eastnor Castle, the Herefordshire estate where every generation of Range Rover has been developed.
The new L460 achieved so many highs in so many of the ways I most appreciate – low road noise, superb steering, a soft and beautifully damped ride, ultra-quiet bump absorption, brilliant stability, sure cornering grip in long corners at speed – that I gave it back with more regret than I can recall about a test car in years.
In our trade, people often want to know what car you’d buy strictly for your own use. Usually I don’t have an answer, because I’m mesmerised by the many great cars on offer these days. Now I do.
We’re moving towards the end of the university year, which means that unless they deliberately go into hiding, crusty hacks are asked either to comment on budding journalists’ year-end projects or actually play a part in them by being interviewed. Several times in the past couple of weeks, far from dispensing wisdom, I’ve drawn inspiration from these energetic, optimistic and remarkably wise young people, who look squarely at the forthcoming upheaval in our personal transport and confidently carve themselves a role.
The future is exciting, no question, but the modern uncertainties around cars and media are daunting compared with what happened back when my dad had a V8 and the extent of my ambition was to own a better one. The students who I’m meeting don’t shrink from designing a different future. I’m going to enjoy their success.
When I first read that Ford had joined Volvo in calling for a ban on new ICE cars in Europe from 2035, I wondered why they were bothering. Most of Europe’s car makers have already announced that they will make only zero-emissions cars by 2035 or sooner. It turns out the call is a way of pressuring the authorities to progress the millions of chargers that we will need, many of them in private homes, by the cut-off date. “We will do our bit if you do yours,” they seem to be saying. Let’s hope it works.
Enjoyable sprint on favourite roads north-east from home to meet Dacia’s sales and marketing director, Xavier Martinet, who’s in Northampton to inspect the UK’s very first Dacia dealership with new-era signage that’s designed to stress the marque’s independence from its parent, Renault.
As I’ve often said, I really rate Dacia’s ‘everything you need, nothing you don’t’ mantra, but it turns out that Martinet’s rating for the UK is a lukewarm ‘could do better’.
It seems our preference is for C-segment cars but Dacia is biggest in the B-segment. UK sales are expected to get closer to the Europe-wide share (around 6%) when the family-friendly Dacia Jogger is established here and when the Bigster SUV arrives.
Sadly, Martinet can’t forecast an arrival date for Dacia’s super-cheap Spring EV, even though he would like to. It seems orders are too strong in other markets for ours to take any kind of priority.
Do you drive your partner’s car? I rarely get around to it, so a tyre-pressures-and-top-up trip in the Steering Committee’s two-year-old Mini Cooper S was a revelation. What a quick, agile little car! I don’t remember being quite so effusive about it on test, so I’m doing it now.
And another thing…
Time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Renault 5, one of the first cars to use plastic bumpers, now so routine and essential. I bought this lovely Norev model in lockdown, and it gives me pleasure every day. I hope that Renault can do justice to the sublime original when reviving it as an EV in 2024.