Port discovers the shock of the new

| 20 Dec 2011

So the Land-Rover Discovery that appeared in my last blog did a sterling job of towing the Scimitar to Blackpool. In fact, there were moments when it was all so effortless that I had to check my speed, as well as frequently wondering why the bloke behind was driving so bloody close before remembering that I had a trailer attached.

The night before was a different matter, though. It was curry night and so I was despatched to my local takeaway for the usual order. On the way back I got rather agitated at the fact that the car kept beeping at me. For the life of me I couldn’t work out why until I pulled into the driveway and noticed the seatbelt warning light.

Yep, clearly there was too much curry in the bag on the passenger seat because the Land-Rover thought there was someone sitting there.

According to our resident new car aficionado Clements (he actually has to "teach" the rest of us how to use the blinking things every time we get one in), a lot of moderns now have a ‘curry hook’ somewhere in the footwell, perhaps to avoid this very scenario).

Clearly I had not even considered that someone, somewhere in an automotive design studio would have thought that up - my Landie doesn’t even have hazards let alone a hook to hang food on.

At one point I couldn’t work out why my hand was getting rather warm, until I realised that I’d inadvertently clicked a paddle behind the steering wheel that heats it up so your indicating finger can still operate in minus temperatures.

Of course, then there was the built-in TV which could not only play DVDs, but also show me what was behind when reversing: brilliant, but slightly flawed when towing a car on a trailer seeing as all you can see is ‘that bloody tailgaiter’ rather than the tight spot in the Travelodge car park.

All of this brings me to the reason for this blog. As a Land-Rover owner, I am truly torn. The Series I evolved logically into the II, then III and into what became the ubiquitous Defender – for years a trusted workhorse worldwide. Even the first incarnation of the Discovery had a certain roughness to it so it still felt like a ‘proper’ Land-Rover.

Yet, as I stepped from the new Discovery feeling fresh as a daisy after five hours in the saddle, not bothering to even lock it thanks to the keyless entry, while calculating that it had averaged about 35mpg, and still humming the last tune I had listened to on the inbuilt DAB radio, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated.

I will make a bold claim here: the Discovery is the best tow car I have ever used. Fact. But unfortunately that doesn’t make it the best Land-Rover I have ever driven. The problem? It was too good, too well put together, too comfortable, too quiet and too efficient to be a ‘proper’ Landie as I perceive them.

So, I have decided to design an add-on for new Land-Rovers: it will be a big panel with lots of switches that link to every conceivable electrical item on the car enabling the enthusiast to turn off the creature comforts and safety features at will.

One button will add interference to the radio and reduce volume so that you can only just hear it. Another will ever so slightly open all of the windows so you get a good draught down the back of your neck. You could even flick a switch to let the petrol pump operate at double speed so that it floods the engine with fuel and brings consumption back down to ‘sensible’ figures in the teens.

There’s no pleasing some people.