Because of an overnight’s worth of rainfall, what was supposed to be a meadow turned into a slurry of mud so sticky that it was necessary to tighten my shoelaces just so my sneakers won’t come off when I walk over the soft ground. But this didn’t deter the folks from Land Rover as this was their best opportunity to let us loose onto the true elements that their vehicles were built for. I was a bit nervous to get my hands on such beautiful beasts simply because the obstacles they had laid out for us to conquer seemed to be such a gargantuan undertaking for a car with four wheels. Nevertheless I took on the challenge and forged on with a formidable 4x4.
My Favorite Things
What were in store for us where the luxurious Range Rover Sport, the muscular Discovery 3, the athletic Freelander 2 and the iconic Defender. Just by looking at these breathtaking icons, I knew that these were just a few of my favorite things. However, even with so much anticipation and excitement to get my hands on all four vehicles, I had to choose amongst my favorites. The Range Rover Sport with its 272hp TDV8 and 20 inch rims was so tempting, but it was simply too elegant to be thrashed around in the mud. I knew that the Defender, with its years of experience under its belt, was the sharpest tool in the shed, but this would be my first off road experience and I thought, “Hmmm...I’m just not ready for something so hard-core just yet.”
The Land Rover Discovery 3 looked so simple and elegant from the outside. It reminded me of Edelweiss small and white, clean and bright. It looked so happy to greet me. Besides the fact that it was the size of a small apartment, everything else is true. It sat high with dignity and felt like a domesticated animal but still had the instincts of the wild. Even if it was built with a monocoque body frame and fitted with a fully independent suspension, its off-road abilities were never doubted. They’ve equipped it with the best equipment they could offer. It has height adjustable suspension, which could alter its ride height by 105mm, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control, all of which ensures that the Discovery 3 can go over anything nature can throw at it. The traction control worked effortlessly keeping all four wheels in whichever direction I point them to and it braked automatically whenever it was going down a steep hill. It also gave me the much-needed confidence I needed to drive it over a gigantic seesaw, bowling ball sized boulders, hills and streams as it glided along all the obstacles that came my way. There was nothing too big this car couldn’t handle.
I was amazed that I had to que up behind a bunch of motor heads just to get a ride on the coveted Freelander 2. Never did I think that people would actually wait in line for Land Rover’s smallest conception. It looked child-like amongst its bigger brothers and was still growing up. The experience turned into a rally game as I powered over the ruts and drifted with the tail out through some sharp turns. This car simply is a boy’s dream machine, young, athletic and strikingly handsome. Unfortunately, the guys from Land Craft electronically limited the power of its 233hp 3.2 Liter six cylinder engine to keep us on a leash and prevent us from going wild with this precious wild child. I was totally unprepared with what the Freelander 2 had in store for me. I thought it was innocent, timid and shy but it turned out to be just as fun and mature as all the other Land Rovers that came before it. My impression was, of the Freelander 2, was sixteen going onto seventeen but as I’ve discovered, it was actually seventeen turning onto eighteen and just barely legal.
The Long Journey
Land Rovers could just be the perfect drive for a game hunter chasing down does and deers but not on this day. The sun shined upon us, its rays and illuminated the vast open fields so that men, and women, could just have simple fun in the mud. As for me, it was the perfect Land Rover experience driving these wonderful machines over man made hills, streams and valleys. Even if we were simply going round the small track Land Craft has specially built for this event, it felt like we have gone onto a long journey far high up the mountains. They truly stitched up an amazing obstacle course as a proving ground on how capable Land Rovers were. I would have never dreamt of being able to drive such luxurious 4x4’s through the toughest terrains imaginable. For some people, they believe that they have to climb every mountain, ford every stream and follow every rainbow until they find their dream, but what they don’t realize that there are some who dream of going through that wonderful journey.
This special day marked Land Rover’s 60th Anniversary and they blew out the candles by sharing it with us through a memorable off-road experience. I enjoyed it so much that by the end of the day, I was already swimming in my own pool of adrenaline. Unfortunately, the sun had to set over the horizon and we had to say goodbye. I had to admit that hated to go and leave the sight of the four astounding Land Rovers.
Originally published in UNO Magazine April 2009 Issue