The Experience begins...
Sam and I journeyed to Pale Hall in the Series III Safari. Although I use it everyday for the run to and from work it seemed much noiser than usual until I realised that I don't normally drive it over 30 mph. We soon became accostomed to it though.
These were the three vehicles in use this day
Here was the Range Rover Sport, the Discovery 3 and the Defender all neatly lined up ready to go.
We went round to the office which is a couple of rooms the Land Rover Experience team rent from the hotel, where we were shown in to a waiting area with comfortable seating. One of the team came in with the disclaimer forms for us to sign, then he took us round into the hotel where we had tea or coffee and biscuits, very pleasant and relaxing. Having been put at our ease our instructor, Elfed led us out to the Land Rovers.
Range Rover Sport V8
We were going in the Range Rover Sport. Elfed showed us round the vehicle and we set off with me in the front passenger seat and Sam sitting in the back. We turned right out of the grounds with Elfed giving us a very enthusiastic and well-informed description of the Sport's capabilities, and this was just on the road. He demonstrated the push button hand brake as well as the dynamic response, from here and for the rest of the afternoon both Sam and myself wore almost continuous stupid grins as we came to realise just how awesome the technology in these Land Rovers really is.
Dashboard, instruments, alright - information systems
There wasn't really enough time; no, there was no way we could cover what all this instrumentation could tell us let alone learn how it all worked, but Elfed made a determined effort to explain what he was using and why, as well as what it did to the vehicle and how it helped to get where we went.
Off road on the forest tracks
The 7 inch touch screen had been showing the sat nav display but now Elfed switched to the 4x4 info and we set off along the forest tracks. The path was initially quite a wide forestry commission type road and the Terrain Response was set to number 1 for gravel but we soon turned off down a narrow rutted and quite steep track with it set for something a little more rough. The air suspension lifted the vehicle up to clear any obstacles and down we crept with the hill descent and traction control leaving the driver to concentrate on where he was going.
Looking back from the bottom the photo does not do justice to the rocky ledge and the steepness of the path we had just descended.
This track was muddy
Again the photo does not convey either the gradient or mud on this track which the Sport took in its stride as though on a Sunday afternoon stroll.
There were ruts along here, honest!
It didn't go over
The side slope was at the edge of the track, I slid into the passenger door but only because I was straining to take the picture. The 4x4 display showed the front offside wheel was off the ground and something about the centre of gravity which I didn't fully understand at the time.
Stop for a change of driver
We stopped at a major road junction in the forest and met up with the Discovery 3 too. There was a ten minute break and I took these pictures. The air suspension was up on the Range Rover Sport, compare this picture with the one at the top of the page and notice the clearance above the wheels.
I've never really liked the Range Rover much, but the Range Rover Sport has appealed to me since it first came out, so finding that there is nothing in common between the Range Rover and the Sport but the Sport shares the same chassis as the Disc 3 may explain its appeal. It was my turn to drive next so there are not a many more photographs.
At the top the view did warrant a photo.
Elfed directed me along some nice little tracks in the forest, I still aren't sure whether my panic was due to personal fear or worry about wrecking £50,000.00 odd worth of Range Rover Sport, but Elfed assured me that the motor could do it so not to worry. That was a major theme of the afternoon, the feeling we got of quiet confidence from both the vehicle and Elfed, it certainly helped to make this one of my most memorable experiences.
It just looked good
As I returned to the Sport it seemed to be welcoming me back so I just had to take a picture of it.
Now it was Sam's turn
We swapped round and I sat in the back. Strangely I only seem to sit in the back of cars when Sam's driving. The comfort with ample leg room and clear visibility despite the front seat headrest suprised me, so I was able to relax in comfort.
The 7-inch display
The LCD panel is used for the sat-nav as well as the 4x4 info. When the electric locking diffs are on the symbols change to red locked locks. It would be nice to have the time to learn all about the system, maybe one day.
My turn again
As we approached the road we swapped round again and I drove it back along the road to Pale Hall. I had been apprehensive about driving it on narrow country roads in Wales but at the time it never entered my head, the size of the vehicle just seemed right, and you could see how wide it was and how much clearance to give oncoming traffic. I always find it easier to drive the Series III than the Citroen C1 or the Metros we used to have and thinking back on it later, driving the Range Rover Sport on the road was just bliss.
When we did get back Elfed very kindly lifted the bonnet (hood), not much space in there with the V8 and everything.
A word about the photographs. They were all taken using an Olympus E300 DSLR at a resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels then reduced to 640 x 480 for this web-page. If you feel the need to print any of them please let me know since a print of the higher resolution image is far superior and well worth the effort in obtaining it.
I would like to express my thanks and gratitude for a wonderful Experience to Elfed and the Land Rover Experience Team at Pale Hall in North Wales.