WICK, SCOTLAND -- The fifteenth century castle that was to be our home for two nights loomed in the foreground, as our lineup of 2005 Land Rover LR3s maneuvered over rocks, across formidable sand dunes, and along the hard-packed shoreline of Scotland’s North Sea. Following a full day of design and engineering presentations in Gaydon, England, our small cadre of auto writers had been flown to northern Scotland to put the newest Land Rover -- the LR3, which replaces the Discovery in the U.S. -- through its paces over a period of two days, driving on paved roads and dirt tracks, and through technical off-road/4WD evaluations. The task was to evaluate the LR3’s new smoothness and control on the road and its improved 4WD prowess in the areas of traction, suspension articulation, hill descent, steering, gearing, breakover angle, and angles of approach and departure. It took some getting used to, from the LR3’s new alpha-numeric name and the Land Rover presenter’s boasts of “high technology as a re-occurring theme” to the LR3’s unique electronic wizardry called Terrain Response -- “a smart technology that makes drivers expert in the cabin.” Maybe that was great for the masses of people that hadn’t been on Camel Trophys, participated in 4WD adventures, attended four-wheeling driving schools, and competed in numerous off-road races around the world -- as had many in our small group of journalists. For the Sunday adventurer, this level of luxury and vehicular intelligence from bonnet to boot would surely swivel their heads and open their wallets.
But surely, not professional drivers. NO way.