Steve Cropley: Land Rover Discovery still seems a winner

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Cropley is a big fan of his latest long-termer

Happy experience in new Discovery long-termer overshadows urban irritants

Saturday and Sunday

I’ve just spent a first uncomplicated weekend behind the wheel of my new long-termer, a Land Rover Discovery D300, whose arrival I had been looking forward to for many weeks. Major news about this machine will in future appear in another part of the magazine, but I just have to tell you that now, as a result of these two days of driving, I’m already fretting about the closeness of its departure date in September.

Lots of nonsense is talked about the latest Discovery, mainly because the ultra-versatile, ultra-cool and remarkably refined new Defender has come along and eaten its lunch. And there’s no doubt that Land Rover will have to position the next-generation model more carefully if it’s to thrive. JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré confirmed as much in a recent chat at Goodwood. But if you meet a Discovery 5 without prejudice and are the sort of person who naturally enjoys what big, quiet, comfortable, soft-riding SUVs have to offer, a few hundred miles in a D300 will add up to a fine treat. Especially since in normal driving, it returns 40mpg.

Tuesday

Depressing interlude in central London. Creeping along on my usually unstoppable BMW electric scooter, I encountered a proper old-school snarlup: traffic channelled into a single file so that an enormous crowd of yellow-clad police officers could identify and pinch untaxed vehicles. Fair enough, thought I: people should obey the law.

The bad bit, in the same week the Metropolitan Police was put into “special measures”, was the weird belligerence of the officers, who bellowed and strutted about in a thoroughly threatening way. It was as if the transgressors (around 10% of us, not including me) had delivered each of them a personal affront.

Does it not occur to these people that they’re empowered by a society of fundamentally mild-mannered and law-abiding people who wouldn’t want to be represented in this way?

Wednesday

The odd decision to reveal the Volkswagen Phaeton MK2 luxury limousine that it never put into production was apparently motivated by some German hack’s discovery of the project, six years too late. Interesting car, mind. When the first Volkswagen Phaeton was launched back in 2002, it was a technological tour de force. VW Group boss Ferdinand Piëch claimed (on a winter test in Finland with hacks present) that it was the best engineering project of his life – and that included the Porsche 917 for which he became famous. We didn’t believe him and we were right.

Thursday

Market research is far from being my speciality, but here’s a stab. People within our organisation reckon the content of this column and that of Matt Prior just a few pages away could be happily combined into a podcast voiced by the pair of us. If we created such a verbal document, would you have the time and inclination to listen? Answers would be gladly received via email.

Friday

I was driving along, happily listening to the radio, when one of those “Did you own a diesel car made after 2007?” adverts came on and torpedoed my good mood. There’s an epidemic of these: invitations for diesel owners to join class actions aimed at screwing money from car makers whose defeat devices produced false readings during official exhaust-pollution evaluations.

I’m not saying for a second that cheating manufacturers should go unpunished. But I deeply disapprove of car owners who join these movements even though (as our test procedures and market intelligence show) the vast majority of them haven’t been inconvenienced and their cars’ resale values haven’t been affected. I reserve special scorn for the legal types orchestrating the whole thing. It’s like trousering a wallet you find in the street because there’s ‘free money’ inside.

And another thing…

I was passing Ariel at Crewkerne, so I dropped in for a cuppa and was rewarded with a glance at their ‘projects’ bay, maintained for the distant day when team members can take a break from making Atoms and Nomads. In front is a 1000cc Square Four bike, at the rear an ultra-rare 1920s Ariel car.


Source: Autocar

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