Member Since: 16 Oct 2012
Location: West Yorkshire
The Clarkson Review: Range Rover 350D Vogue SE
I do like his writing.
"No diva, but too swish for muddy fields
Click image to enlarge The Range Rover 350D Vogue SE costs £96,285.
I was out in my woods the other day collecting logs when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted what looked like a fox darting into one of my pheasant pens.
Luckily I was not packing heat, because it turned out to be a fox-coloured spaniel. It bounded over when I called, all ears, tongue and waggly tail, and I quickly deduced by reading the tag on its collar that it was called Rory. It’s not for nothing that, round these parts, they call me “the detective”.
There was also a telephone number, so I called it and it went straight to voicemail. Strange. If you lose a dog, you tend to treat your phone in the same way a sailor who has fallen overboard treats a life raft. It’s the one link you have to the happy life you knew.
Perhaps, then, the owner had left his phone at home when he had taken his dog for a walk and was, even now, rampaging around the Cotswolds, in the manner of the chap who took the deer-chasing Fenton for a stroll in Richmond Park.
I waited and strained my ears, but could hear no one shouting “Rory!” And so, with darkness approaching, I decided I’d take the dog home. But there was a small problem: how exactly would I do that?
My farm car, a 13-year-old Range Rover, had been for a service the week before, and just one day later had broken down. Subsequent investigations suggested that one or both of its turbos had failed, along with the intercooler. It was, to use a simple English translation, , and would cost more to mend than it was worth.
My other Range Rover — I like Range Rovers, OK? — was out of action too, because someone had borrowed it just the day before and had some kind of accident.
The third Range Rover that lives on the farm was, that day, doing errands in Norfolk, and the fourth, a brand-new 2021 model I had on loan that week from Land Rover, was far too new and shiny to be used for transporting a very muddy spaniel.
And so we arrive at the biggest — and only — problem with this car. It was designed 50 years ago to do two jobs. You could use it on the farm during the day, and then, after hosing down the interior, use it at night to go to the opera. No other car has ever been able to pull that trick off. Not even the Mercedes G-wagen.
I said last week that the Volkswagen Golf GTI was the only car you need, and that’s true — unless you want to do farming during the day and then go to the opera at night. In which case the only car you need is a Range Rover.
So why then do I own two? Ah, well, that’s the issue. My four-year-old Vogue SE is a bit plush. I use it mostly for going to and from London. I don’t even use it for shooting. And I’m not alone. Most of my friends round these parts have Range Rovers as well — it’s a uniform, really — and it’s the same story with all of them.
With the new version the problem is more acute because there are glass screens for all the controls and new, softer, wider seating, which is upholstered in the finest leather. It can be used, of course, for uprooting trees and transporting logs and pulling stranded tractors out of the ditch, but you wouldn’t, any more than you’d play football with that Louis Vuitton ball that was recently offered online for more than £4,000.
Land Rover would say that you can still do all these hirsute, manly things with other cars in its range, but I’m not interested in its other cars. I’m sure they’re very nice, but I like the Range Rover. The proper one with the split-folding tailgate and the imperious driving position.
And the new one is even better. The engines, for the most part, are smaller than ever, but thanks to all manner of electronic trickery and hybrid tech they are even more powerful. So now, with the diesel D350 model, you get all the torque you need and about 30mpg. Greta Thunberg should get one.
More impressive still, however, is the way this new car glides. I used it to get from Chipping Norton to Manchester, via Ludlow in Shropshire, which meant we barely touched the motorway network at all, and it was sublime. According to the company’s blurb it has the same suspension setup as before, so it must be the seats, or fairy dust, but something makes it uncannily comfortable.
It was also fun. I’m not suggesting it’s a Mazda MX-5 or a Porsche 911. It’s not fun like that. But it is a hoot to zoom along at a fair old lick in something that weighs more than Lincoln Cathedral.
But what about reliability? People say Range Rovers have always been hopeless, yet the fact of the matter is that my four-year-old car has been as solid and as dependable as John Terry. And the much older 57-plate car was reliable too, until its turbo seized. So it has also been like John Terry. Brilliant — if we ignore the fact he allegedly slept with a team-mate’s girlfriend.
Despite everything, though, we can no longer judge the Range Rover as a dual-purpose car. It’s a great everyday car, but when it comes to driving a muddy dog two miles cross-country, you’ll need an old Toyota pick-up as well.
I don’t have an old Toyota pick-up, but I do have a six-wheel-drive former army Supacat. So my girlfriend brought that to the wood, we put Rory in the back and off we went.
Later, after I’d given him some of the stew I’d made the night before — he liked it, unlike everyone else — and a bowl of water, I tried the number again, and this time it was answered very quickly by a woman. But I couldn’t hear what she was saying because in the background there was a clearly distraught little girl sobbing and saying over and over: “Is it Rory? Is it Rory?”
I explained that I did have Rory, and I then heard a whoop of relief. It’s possibly the nicest sound I’ve ever heard. The sheer joy of a little girl finding out that her lost dog is safe and well.
It put me in such a good mood that I’m going to give the new Range Rover five stars. It’s so good at doing the opera part of its job that we can ignore the fact it’s now too posh to do farming.
I’ve also decided that whatever it takes, I’m going to repair the broken engine in my old car. Because it’s been in the family so long, it’s become our Rory."
Member Since: 23 Feb 2016
Location: West Midlands
I think he’s got a point! Although last year I was out shooting and someone I didn’t know turned up in a brand new full fat RR. It was a filthy muddy day and he had a dog / wellies etc. No dog box. No seat covers. No dog guard. No welly bag. Nothing in fact to protect the interior of the car. The spaniel was similarly uncaring and happy to jump over the rear seats and dance around on every square inch of the interior.
I wondered afterwards whether it was a hire / loan car, either that or the guy was slightly mad / had a car valet business / butler to do all that....most odd.
14th Jan 2021 7:52am
Member Since: 29 Jun 2007
You could apply that story to any of the current LR/RR range these days - especially any vehicle that is under 5 years old.
But I think its pyschological because I didn't feel the same way about my now sold 65 plate pickup even when it was brand new. From day one I loaded it with crap!Steve N | 21MY Defender (on order) | 08MY Discovery 3 (history) | 06MY Discovery 3 (ancient history)
14th Jan 2021 9:29am
Member Since: 12 Feb 2020
I think theres a reason most of the shoots up here are an train of Disco 3's and 4's. Mostly owned by those who can afford to keep a Disco 3/4 running. It replaced the Range Rover as the farmers opera mobile a while ago.Belize Green TD5 110 Double Cab aka Le Farm Truck
14th Jan 2021 10:38am
Member Since: 23 Feb 2016
Location: West Midlands
Yep. Quite a few years ago we had a relatively new D4 HSE. It had rubber mats, LR seat covers, TransK9 dog box. I used it for shooting for one season and got fed up with the mud and having to clean it before giving it back to Mrs H. The P38 gets cleaned at the end of the season.
14th Jan 2021 11:13am
Member Since: 09 Mar 2018
My biggest issue is probably the useless half-length factory rubber mat on the driver’s side (and maybe how easily the tread plates scratch). With a load liner it’s not really less useful than an older one.
14th Jan 2021 1:10pm
Member Since: 05 Jun 2017
I can understand this POV.
My first Range Rover was a 1982 4 door - no aircon no electric windows 3.5 V8 on carbs. Hose out interior, teddy bear trim, it eventually replaced the SerIII for smallholding duties (calves/lambs/logs in the back etc. etc.).
It was replaced by a 300tdi 110.
I thought that was a natural progression.
Can't see a new Range Rover (or new Defender for that matter) in the same light.Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right.
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