Thursday 6 December 2012

Road - In Control - Nearly!

Well, there I was sliding down this ice covered hill in just over two tonnes of motorised metal when the tail stepped out of line – and just kept going. No matter what I did with the steering wheel, the beast had developed a mind of its own at this point and was hell bent on going sideways with what seemed like an ambition to go backwards. 

But with the instructor’s wise words of wisdom still ringing in my ears, even though he was still stood safely at the top of the hill watching me, I hit the accelerator. In this case that was the right thing to do. The response from the engine and drivetrain was to pull the vehicle back into line and safely negotiate the rest of the slope. Uncanny.

What Range Rover were trying to do at the launch of this new car was demonstrate the Hill Descent Control capability, but it had been set too low for the snow and ice conditions, hence the fact that mass and momentum had overtaken traction and control.

The idea of going quicker in such conditions would be alien to most folks, but in this case, the slight increase in speed and attempt to generate wheelspin allowed the sensors and software to do their job. Traction was regained and driver management re-established. Thereafter the rest of the off-road course at Dunkeld was a doddle.

Even more impressive was the fact that this 255 bhp, 3 litre TDV6 was running Goodyear F1 Eagle tyres on ridiculous 21 inch rims.

In other words there was no chance to try the increased wading depth of the new car compared to the old one, but the arrival of winter whiteness in the highlands of Perthshire ensured that the Range Rover was tested way out of its ‘normal’ habitat of school pavements and shopping mall car parks.

There’s just one drawback, and it wasn’t the cold that brought a tear to my eye, it was the eye watering price. It starts at 72 grand – and goes up!

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