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East of England Land Rover Experience
By Stephanie Bateman
I wasn’t going to be asked twice when invited to attend an experience day at Land Rover – who wouldn’t jump at the chance of putting an £80,000 vehicle with all the latest gadgets, to the test?
So off I set, with a very excited husband in tow, to Rockingham Castle estate near Corby where the East of England experience centre is based.
The estate itself houses the 900yr old Rockingham castle, home to many kings over the years, but more recently the Saunders Watson family who have lived there for 450 years. With a 130acre country park including open grassland, valleys, woods, rutty tracks and steep inclines, it is the perfect setting for testing out the UK’s leading off-road vehicle. The East of England Land Rover experience was set up 1992 by specialist off-road driver Vince Cobley, well-known for his company Protrax and his tours to Morocco with the Land Rover Adventure Club.
Keeping it in the family, our guide on the day was Vince’s son Luke Cobley who is just as knowledgeable and passionate about off-road driving as his dad, and did a great job explaining all the fancy gadgets and gizmos in the latest Range Rover Vogue SE DV8.
Usually, special features in cars are wasted on me, but even I appreciated the toys on this bad boy! Not only were the seats heated, but they had air-con too, and the central display can show the driver the sat nav, while playing a film or Freeview channel to the passenger.
The 8 speed semi automatic vehicle is driven by its computer selecting the right 4x4 combination of power, diff lock, gear, lights, reverse camera and tow hitch line-up assistance plus a boatful of other features including side cameras by the wheels to show how close you are to the curb, but also front bumper mounted cameras see round corners at blind junctions!
After a quick tour through the car, Luke drove us round the off-road course to demonstrate what
the beast could do. With various terrain settings including rock crawling, snow, sand and gravel and hill descent control, we tackled a 28deg side slope, axle twister, downhill and uphill slopes and a very rutted single track with ease. The central display even showed how the centre and rear diff worked when driving through the axle twister to keep the body of the car as level as possible.
The best bit was when we got to have a drive. Luke was super at explaining exactly how to get the best out of the car over the course. Anyone who has purchased a brand new vehicle from the Land Rover or Range Rover Brand are given a free experience half day simply to learn how to utilise the vehicle to its full potential.
It was a fantastic experience but the most thrilling bit was the hill descent control where the car drives you down a steep hill without you having to do a thing – not even hit the break! There’s a few seconds when the car starts to free-wheel down the slope and the urge to hit the brake is enormous, but the computer soon kicks in and takes over, slowly guiding the car to the bottom. The 28deg side slope was pretty cool too. We were pretty impressed when Luke told us that it could handle a 40deg slope if really pushed!
The whole experience was not only great fun, but we learnt a lot about off-road driving and how to handle difficult terrains in any vehicle which was handy for us as we’re often driving off-road when attending various horse events.
On this occasion, we tested the big Range Rover, but you can also try the Range Rover Sport, Evoque, Discovery 4, Defender and Freelander in groups of up to three people in one vehicle.
The experiences are available as half days or full days and can be incorporated into corporate days, team building days or as fantastic gifts. And if you fancy something a bit different, there are other off-road vehicles to play on including 6x6 ATVs and Rage Off-Road Buggies.
Prices start from £195 for a half day, shared occupancy using a Defender, Freelander or Discovery. Corporate prices can be from £70 per person.
For more information, visit http://www.offroadmasters.com/shop/shop.html
Checkout East Of England Online's Land Rover Gift Experiences