Sometime ago in a previous century, I was driving in Scotland on the launch of a crazy little vehicle called a Suzuki Jimny. It was the smallest 4×4 since the arrival of the donkey and a pack of journalists from around the world were causing chaos in the Glens.
It was a slightly surreal moment seeing four Japanese writers squeezed in tiny Jimny. One had bought a kilt and wore it later at supper. While the new Suzuki was definitely flawed, it was also bloody good fun to drive and superb in the dirt – thanks to a short wheelbase and light weight.
I can see similarities with the Trax. It’s nowhere near as light as the Jimny of course and beautifully flawed too – but I can’t help but like it. Why? Because although the Chevrolet is noisy at speed, jittery on the corners and not blessed with the most refined of diesel engines, it has bags of spirit.
Like all great flawed cars – think Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Renault Avantime, Citroen 2CV – you just can’t help but like a machine that puts a smile on your face. Winding the Trax up to speed involves a lot of leg and arm work through the gears, it rolls slightly alarmingly on corners and the ride is somewhat lacking but would I want one if I lived up a slightly muddy lane in the Trossachs? Yes.
Jeremy My late friend Tom Love was one of the first people in the country to own a Range Rover. He began a lifelong obsession with the 4×4 in 1970, when the original Rangey was only offered with three-doors and vinyl matting on the floor to make it easier to wash clean with a hose pipe!
Back then, Tom would be invited down from his home in Scotland to collect his new Range Rover from the factory. He would stay for lunch with one of the directors and then drive back home. The top brass would often ask how Tom thought they could improve the Rangey – to which Tom told them ‘add two more doors and an automatic gearbox‘. Strangely, enough, it wasn’t long before Land Rover did just that…
I’m not sure what Tom would have made of the Evoque. He certainly wouldn’t have fitted in it, being a large man who liked red wine and only ate steak, just steak – without potato or salad. I’m pretty sure he would have disapproved of the bling wheels and red seats but he would also fully understand how a brand like Range Rover needed to evolve to survive.
With starting prices at around £30,000, the Evoque has truly brought Range Rover ownership to a whole new market. It is beautifully put together too – with a first class interior, quality fittings and doors that shut with a reassuring clunk. Tom would have liked that, if he could have squeezed in…