We all like the idea of food, drink and leisure at someone else’s expenses.
The warming and soothing feeling you get everytime you happen to hold a free ticket with your name on that was paid for by your employer.
Ever had lunch or dinner on your company? Tell me the food you had wasn’t somewhat tastier than it is when YOU are paying.
Swiping your credit card or throwing your own 50 €/£/$ on the table renders the whole experience slightly disappointing sometimes.
Well, when it comes to making you feel like a giant just because you’re allowed to drink limitlessly at someone else’s cost nobody is a match for car companies.
The car planet for the press people is a world of free champagne, free hotel suites, free rides, free petrol, free insurance or what have you.
And in this planet the Brits are in a class of their own.
The British car companies basically invented luxury driving. Rolls Royce and Bentley, albeit now German-owned, are the ultimate automotive external display of the British concept of high class. Designed to make you feel cocooned and cared for and cuddled while a chauffeur is going through all the bother of actually driving.
Land Rover invented, or more accurately reinvented, the SUV/Jeep with the Range Rover. It wasn’t the Cayenne, it was the big old Brit. The Range Rover is the emblem of what moving about in a car should be.
It goes anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Any sort of terrain is sorted out by the, apologies for the pun, terrain response, any speed is managed thanks to the variety and power of the engine choices you’re provided with. It’s fun, it’s tough, it’s class. And it is all that with leather or suede seats.
That’s why I was thrilled a couple of days ago at the introduction in Florence of the new Range Rover Sport. Because the Champagne was simply flooding the place, and it was free.
But, the new Range Rover Sport.
The problem with the old version of the big RR Sport was the name. The Range Rover Sport wasn’t quite sporty enough to bear its name or indeed be any more competent on the road than the normal, grown up Range Rover already was anyway. So, why go for that one? I can only assume it had to do with the price but when you’re ready to spend more than 50k on a car, do 10 or 20 grand really make any difference?
Apparently, yes. Because the roads are littered with, usually white, models of the Range Rover Sport whereas the “regular” Rangie is nowhere to be seen.
I like the normal Range Rover, it’s big and broad and yet it isn’t brash, it’s elegant without being vulgar.
So I was a little skeptical….before I actually saw the car.
The Range Rover range (again, sorry for the pun) has come a long way since Sir Charles Spencer King designed it more than 50 years ago and I’m afraid he wouldn’t be at all pleased with the modern outcome. Just like Ferrari Enzo only sold cars to be able to compete in the races, Sir King dreamed of the Range Rover as, like the name says, as a range rover. Something capable of dealing with any terrain and thunder across the fields. Well, today, even though the Range Rover is actually still able to deal with anything, it really only belongs to Monaco or Cheshire.
I’m not convinced that we really need this car in Europe now. I don’t think I’d like to be seen driving one in most towns in the EU now. It just doesn’t feel appropriate.
But I definitely wouldn’t want to live in a world where cars like this one, simply wouldn’t exist.
words by A.S.V.
photo by Getty Images