Blog: Glenn BrooksThe RR Sport at high speed and then, a McLaren 12C Spider

Glenn Brooks | 3 May 2013

Hidden cameras catch vegetarian gorging on Big Mac

Hidden cameras catch vegetarian gorging on Big Mac

Had thought until yesterday that driving the new Range Rover Sport at high speed around JLR's test track was the most memorable thing I would do this week. I was wrong.

Until Thursday, the RRS was easily the best-handling off-roader I had driven; then it was - just - topped by the Cayenne S Diesel. I'd been keen to see how the Volkswagen Group's 281kW/382hp 4,134cc V8 would compare to petrol Cayennes, especially with its 850Nm.

For those who can't get enough torque, this is now the engine to have if you're a fan of the Cayenne. And sorry to those in the US, we sympathise that all you get is the new-for-2013 V6 diesel but hang in there - the way Euro 6 and the next California emissions laws are just about aligned, the V8 might just be a product planning decision away some time in the near term.

The venue for attempting to push a two and a half tonne top-heaving 4x4 towards the lower end of its supremely high limits was GM's Millbrook proving ground north of London. This is an annual day where the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders invites automotive media teams to bring a selection of cars to the one place, the idea being that journalists get to try all manner of new-ish models for 15-30 minute bursts. A high-speed bowl (we were limited to 100mph) and an Alpine circuit are the best two of up to four available routes or tracks and no doubt Mister News Editor Roberts will also be writing more about the day in The Week That Was, out in a few hours' time.

Some bullets:

  • on the list of life's experiences that will see me die a happy man was getting to drive a McLaren 12C Spider on that hilly alpine track
  • the Z4 sDrive18i was in an entirely different way similarly impressive and the facelift makes it look even better, to my eyes at least
  • 3 Series GT is as impressive to drive as you would hope (320d)
  • I am a long way from being the target buyer yet the Fiat 500L seduced me with its unusual and cleverly-arranged-for-maximum-space interior
  • hadn't ever seen an electrically extending footrest in an MPV until yesterday (a pre-production next-gen C4 Picasso was on static display)
  • F-TYPE interior is cosy and very Thunderbirds, the sound of its V6 addictive
  • the new Carens is bigger than it looks in the pics and the final Kia you can say to the PR people when you hand the keys back "jeez what a leap over the old model" - there are now, at last, exactly zero rubbish Kias
  • maybe I now want a Paceman after driving a Cooper S (still not sure about the looks)
  • Dave Leggett is right to have been so impressed by the 208 GTi - they are going to sell a LOT of these in the UK - it feels like a smaller Golf GTI
  • while EVs might be an acquired taste, the Zoe is an electric car you'd glance back at each time you locked it: I'm keen on its looks, inside and out, plus it's as silent and felt almost as refined as a Lexus hybrid at low speed
  • regrets: I ran out of time and missed the Golf R Cabriolet, you couldn't get near the GT86, the Ghost I kept meaning to queue for but didn't, and there was an alluringly mud-spattered GL 350 BlueTEC which you could take off-road (few owners will ever do that, so it would have been a big novelty) but intention didn't evolve into action with that one either
  • Simon Warburton seemed pretty handy behind the wheel, pressing on in a DS3 Cabrio I spied him soaking up some rays in [like Lord Leggett, claims he's not as pathetic a petrolhead as self and Graeme but I'm no longer convinced]
  • The Kiwi was smiling yesterday [sunshine does odd things to Mr Roberts]

I got so excited remembering those drives just now that I almost forgot to mention being encouraged to push a Range Rover Sport hard by a development engineer sitting beside me on Wednesday morning. Maybe the Cayenne is better but there wouldn't be much in it and the Land Rover guys were full of respect for the Porsche's off-roading capabilities too, which some readers will be interested to know. The RRS is no doubt going to be a major seller for Land Rover, especially in the US, where the dealers at last have a model with third row seats. What I had wanted to know was is it now possible that there could be a better all-round vehicle than the Range Rover? My answer is yes.

So...It's been fun, but my masters at just-auto have me chained to my desk and MacBook here back at home today, and all of next week. Once the interviews with various execs I have spoken to in recent days are written up and published, and PLDB updated with additional future model news, I might just be allowed out again to see and feel and hear what's really going on in certain parts of the industry.

Land Rover engineers and marketing people nearly wore out the term 'dynamic' in their media presentations on Wednesday afternoon so I'm now reclaiming this word: it's the best way to remind us all that everything you think you know about this industry needs constant revision - a lesson that every car launch or driving day underlines.


Colossal China powers on

I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....

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