In­side track on tour of Land Rover’s test­ing grounds

The Land Rover fa­cil­ity at East­nor Castle in Eng­land holds all man­ner of off-road chal­lenges. De­signed to test a car to its lim­its, the ter­rain is chal­leng­ing to say the least. Jack Evans takes a lively tour

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - USED CARS -

Great off- road ca­pa­bil­ity sits at the core of ev­ery Land Rover car. Ever since the first Land Rover project be­gan in 1947, it has been para­mount that each ve­hi­cle can deal with the tough­est ter­rain and weather.

But where to put this to the test? Be­lieve it or not, the an­swer lies in the rolling slopes of the Malvern Hills Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, near Led­bury in Here­ford­shire, in the UK.

The first thing you’ll no­tice is the castle. It was only built re­cently ( in castle terms), but the 1820 struc­ture is no less im­pos­ing to look at.

Crenel­la­tions aside, what can you ex­pect from the prov­ing grounds? Af­ter all, it’s open to mem­bers of the pub­lic who buy vouch­ers, while any­one who pur­chases a new Dis­cov­ery will be of­fered the chance to visit the fa­cil­ity to see just what their new car can do.

It’s part of Land Rover’s new ini­tia­tive to en­able cus­tomers to un­der­stand just what’s go­ing in­side their new Dis­cov­ery and there­fore use the tech­nol­ogy com­fort­ably.

We were sent out to try a se­ries of dif­fer­ent ob­sta­cle sec­tions, with each seg­ment test­ing dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the car’s ca­pa­bil­ity.

Firstly, we got be­hind the wheel of the all- new Dis­cov­ery to see just how good it is at tow­ing. The pre­vi­ous­gen­er­a­tion car was in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar with those who like to hitch up, so the new one has quite the rep­u­ta­tion to up­hold.

Thank­fully, with its tow­ing as­sist tech­nol­ogy, the hard work is taken out of the job — even when re­vers­ing a three-axle trailer box. It cal­cu­lates steer­ing an­gles for you, mean­ing there’s no need to try and work out just how much lock to use.

One of the key fea­tures of any Land Rover is its abil­ity to tackle sticky sit­u­a­tions. The area sur­round­ing East­nor has some of the clag­gi­est mud in the UK, able to cling to tyre treads and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents alike. Even the Dis­cov­ery, with its heated seats and built- in tele­vi­sions has been de­signed to cope with it — which is why we were next sent out on a rut­ted, muddy track fea­tur­ing steep in­clines and even steeper drops.

Set to low range, the Dis­cov­ery hap­pily plugs away at the route. It’s easy to see how other cars would strug­gle in this area, but the Disco — even on road tyres — man­ages it well. It’s also an in­cred­i­ble show­case for the car’s seam­less tech­nol- ogy, as it will mon­i­tor the ground con­di­tions and ad­just its off-road set­tings ac­cord­ingly.

Af­ter driv­ing down a rocky in­cline, ( where we were tested to keep as much wa­ter in a bowl mounted to the bon­net as pos­si­ble) we headed to an ar­tic­u­la­tion test area. With high con­crete bank­ing and car-killing gra­di­ents, it showed the ex­tremes that Land Rover

cars are pushed to. We were then in­structed to head straight for a deep sec­tion of wa­ter, which tested the Dis­cov­ery’s 900mm max­i­mum wad­ing depth to the limit.

Fi­nally, we waited un­til dark­ness fell to drive along a muddy, slip­pery track through the forests sur­round­ing East­nor. With the trees lit up by the car’s head­lights, i t cer­tainly felt spooky, and trav­el­ling in a con­voy did give you the feel­ing you wouldn’t want to be left be­hind.

A rabbit war­ren of th­ese tracks sur­round the area, giv­ing those who at­tend one of the Land Rover’s ex­peri- ence days the chance to try a se­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent sur­faces. You can do this in the man­u­fac­turer’s leg­endary De­fender, too.

The im­pres­sive fa­cil­i­ties at East­nor Castle show you that — far from be­ing any soft- roader — Land Rover cars still have the same very high level of off-road prow­ess that won them such a goany­where rep­u­ta­tion to be­gin with.

Of course, if you’re lack­ing in con­fi­dence on tricky sur­faces, a trip there could be just the thing you need. Equally, if you’re an avid thrill-seeker, you’re just as well catered for.

Pic­tures: PA Photo/Land Rover

A chal­leng­ing gra­di­ent, one of the many tests await­ing the driver vis­it­ing East­nor Castle, Land Rover’s test­ing grounds in Eng­land.

A flooded track, with very chal­leng­ing mud, one of the many ob­sta­cles fac­ing driv­ers at the Land Rover test­ing grounds at East­nor Castle, Eng­land.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.