First drive: Range Rover TDV8
In fact the current car looks like a Mark One that has been inflated with a bicycle pump – all the panels now curve gently outwards, whereas the original had easy-to-press flat panels. Of course, mechanically, the new car is in a different millennium. The one thing they have in common is a refined woofly V8 that ambles through town, rarely exceeding 2000 rpm in normal use.
The difference is that sedate refined progress is all the Mark One can do – it seems smooth and powerful to the passengers, but the driver knows that flooring the accelerator is going to make no discernable difference, with only 165 bhp on tap. Doing the same thing in the TD V8, with its 309 bhp and enough torque to drag an oil tanker out of port, threatens passengers with whiplash.
As a luxury car, the Range Rover is arguably better than many conventional luxury saloons. There is lots of space (and the height means you sit in a more natural position), a far better view out, a decent ride and, unless you are doorhandling it down a B-road, handling that is almost entertaining, thanks to the ultra high-tech electronic dampers keeping full control of the admittedly obese 2800kg kerb weight.
The incredible gearing means it is doing about 1500 rpm at 70 mph, which makes it feel like your own private TGV train, rather than a mere car.
Its simple beam axles squirm a bit over bumps and its performance is relaxed (0-62 mph in 14.3 seconds). However it is still a great cruiser (this example still drives to and from Italy every year) and it is pretty-well unstoppable off road.
The big difference is that the Mark Three is built as well as it is designed, whereas the Mark One had Austin Rover interior trim bits that were shocking even in the 80s. Oh, and it now does close to 30 mpg, about twice the figure of its hard-drinking grandfather.