Week ending June 25
Miles driven 150
Metal detail plates, visible at the foot of a door frame when a door is open have been all the rage for some time in certain circles now. Sometimes they are picked out in metal, sometimes in multiple colours and sometimes they are illuminated.
I guess it is all part of what men in sharp suits call marketing and, in particular, brand enforcement. If you see the words 'Range Rover' every time you step in to it, the theory must be it'll reinforce your decision to purchase it. But over the years, on a wide variety of cars, I've had these metal plates fall off, chip and collect a variety of debris that leaves them looking less than desirable.
The Range Rover plate is more durable, and its design simple enough: it's metallic, with the the lettering recessed in the plate. Trouble is, if you brush over it with mud or muck on your boot, it gets stuck in the recesses. As a result, cleaning it has become a bit of a ritual.
No big deal, you may think, and you'd be right. But shouldn't someone have thought it through a bit more? A Range Rover is meant to be for rugged outdoor types, who regularly hop in their car wearing wellies with half a field hanging off them.
A plate with a recess to collect all this dirt in starts to look and sound like it hasn't been thought through properly - and, perhaps, you might question where else practicality has taken second fiddle to style. I can't think of any major examples. But it has got me wondering.
By Jim Holder
Week ending June 18
Miles driven 112
I've written before about my frustrations of negotiating packed streets during the rush hour in the Range Rover. Its size makes safe progress hard work, because you battle for space among oncoming traffic, parked cars and other road users.
However, for all its sheer physical presence, highlighted by the happy snap I grabbed while parked next to a Range Rover Evoque recently, the Range Rover is a surprisingly easy car to place on the road.
That's because the 'command' driving position places you higher up than most other road users, and affords you a great view of what's around you and them. Picking out the corners of the car is also easy from this position, while any shortcomings – notably to the rear – are overcome by judicious use of the various camera angles on offer.
As a result, slipping into parking spaces that might intimidate you in a smaller car with poorer visibility can actually be light work. Likewise reverse parking, and other similarly fiddly manoeuvres.
For all that fighting other road users is a pain, then, the Range Rover defies its size to be quite a pleasure in tight spots in controlled conditions.
Week ending June 11
Miles driven 310
According to latest research, European men are getting taller. The last available statistics (oddly) are from the 1970s, when the average 21-year-old man was 177cm tall – a rise of 11cm over 100 years.
Has this trend continued? Research doesn’t say, but perhaps so judging by the blood pouring from my head after I walked in to the corner of the Range Rover’s open tailgate.
It’s square edge is 188.5cm from ground level. High enough for most, no doubt, but I’m 190cm tall. I’ll blame evolution, although others may simply argue I’ve eaten too well.
Slightly shorter people may want to take care when standing on a kerb next to their car, too. While Range Rover will point to the fact that their boot height is plenty high enough for the vast majority, a kerb can often put you 15cm closer to the offending edge.
Either way, it was a messy experience that I hope (and strongly suspect) was sufficiently painful for me to avoid repeating.
Week ending June 4
Miles driven 213
As every nerve-jangled parent of children of a certain age knows, last week was half-term week. Which, in our and many other people's cases, meant cramming in trips to here, there and everywhere while we could.
In the case of the Holder family, that meant heading from the outskirts of London to Lydden Hill in Kent to catch the rallycross racing, before heading to Pembrokeshire on the same day (a trip of 500 or so miles), taking a breather, and then taking in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and then London.
As tests of a car go, this was pretty thorough. We were four up, loaded to the gills and on the roads (from tight country lanes to open motorway) for hours at a time. That the Range Rover is as nice a place to be under the circumstances is a given, although question marks remain as to whether it is as plush as you'd expect from a car nudging £80,000, especially given the standard set by the Mercedes S-Class.
More positively, fuel economy of just more than 30mpg impressed. This, remember, is a big car, and it travelled far and fast for many of the journeys. Refinement was very good, helping us arrive relaxed wherever we went, and the capacious boot swallowed our luggage within the confines of the cover, meaning our valuables (such as they are) were always out of sight.
A trip to a farm also gave us a chance to try a spot of light off-roading. It won't surprise you to learn that the Range Rover didn't even pause for thought on the rain-lashed grassy slopes – although the watching calves were left slightly perplexed.