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Life with a Range Rover: Month 2
Fancy driving someone else’s 5m-long, 2.2m-wide, £137k SUV in busy London? – 21 June
I’ve previously moaned in these pages about the disproportionately large footprint and needlessly lazy turning circle of my Ora Funky Cat (see right), but for all its flaws, it remains a much more sensible urban proposition than some of the towering tanks I see hurtling around London. Big cars just make no sense in a tight, busy city centre.
So when the keys to the Range Rover PHEV landed in my lap one Friday evening, I had harrowing visions of scraped alloys, warped bumpers and scuffed trim. At more than five metres long, at 2.2 metres wide and with a wheel base in which you could comfortably park a Smart Fortwo, this surely wasn’t designed to be threaded between double-deckers and down high-kerbed one-way residential streets
But I needed something comfy, capacious and ICE-powered for a succession of long drives, so I did some spacial awareness exercises, checked a map of my commute for previously unnoticed width restrictions and took a deep breath.
Job one: get the Range Rover down from the seventh floor of Autocar’s notoriously tight multi-storey. This was actually really easy: I just persuaded Steve Cropley to take it for a quick spin “to see what you think”, so he did the job for me.
It wasn’t that hard, though, as he explained when I met him later at Aston Martin’s Gaydon HQ and alerted him to my ruse. Its 7.3deg of rear steering makes for a turning circle roughly on par with your average Volkswagen Golf, and the trick off-road-camera interface doubles up as a handy kerb detector and proximity aid.
Now, though, it was finally time to face my fears, and after accidentally driving onto a roadside flowerbed in front of some politely smiling but clearly confused Aston Martin staff, I nervously merged onto the M40.
Within two miles, though, I had all but forgotten about the SUV’s bulk. As quick and quiet at a cruise as any estate car and no harder to position within its lane, it’s no doubt an imposing presence for other road users but not a car that exhausts you through constant demands on your concentration at speed.