Only a couple of weeks to Wimbledon and I am already playing with tennis balls, albeit they may be tied to trees, and being hit by wing mirrors? – I am certainly prepared.
You see when an invitation to drive off road passes my eyes I leap at the chance to do exactly that, and when it is sometimes accompanied with clay shooting (last December) or to partake in a competition involving tennis balls (last week) – I am puzzled to say the least. To complete the foray of delights, it would be taking place at Eastnor Castle, the estate of Lord Hervey Bathurst and still to this day used as his family home and as such, the Nurburgring of off-roading testing for Landrover.
This particular challenge, that of tennis balls – was to drive on one of the 50 miles of forest tracks within the glorious 5000 acre estate and hit the tennis balls ONLY with the wing mirrors of the new Land Rover Discovery. This involved, raising and lowering the suspension, opening or closing windows or using ones steering in such a way that nothing apart from your wing mirrors touched these balls. Hilarious fun and completely crackers, what’s more, the world’s greatest explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, was also doing the same behind the wheel of another Discovery behind me. A somewhat experienced and intrepid explorer was playing this novel game of tennis just as I was.
Well, on that round I came second and again second on not spilling the water from the filled open bowl attached to our bonnet whilst traversing through a rocky roadway riddled with bumps crevices and slippery edges. As slow as possible was the key and certainly no stopping at any time was the answer.
The afternoon of fun and frolics in the new Discovery was all well and good but it was the delicious drive to the top of the Brecon Beacons in the morning that was something to cherish, showing how very capable and luxurious the car really is. However, it was the night drive that swung it for me, driving under the moonlit skies in the Eastnor Estate, joined once again by Sir Ranulph, I think may have been one of the most exquisite drives I have ever taken.
Wade sensors, continuous suspension revision, is all an automatic function in the new Discovery, so you can sit back and drive – so to speak, (you can turn everything back to manual if you want to get involved with the dips and delights of tree roots and sliding mud) not to mention every seat in this new car is heated and all providing the perfect view, there are no inferior seats in this car. My co-pilot and I chatted for the whole journey about anything really – anything other than the terrain, the car did everything for me.
This new Discovery which has been on sale for a couple of months has already had 25,000 orders globally and 20,000 in the UK alone, it really shows that the automotive industry is steadily increasing its sales with Land Rover selling half a million vehicles last year (13 % up on previous year). Not surprising that the 27 years of this model is a much loved member of the family integrating new zeitgeists of technology with 9 USB points where you can connect 8 devices at once, the seat folding system is so advanced you can fold all seats at once or simply some at the touch of a button. The 5 star Euro NCAP rating, towing capabilities and storage facilities are all still intact. In fact it may have been news balls please on the design, but the game is still the same and the new Discovery is set to be a firm member of the family for Wimbledon and many years to come.