Driving a Land Rover Discovery Sport to the coast; Clarkson will be missed; Classic cars can turn a profit
Steve Cropley Autocar
1 April 2015

MONDAY - Needed a conveyance for a quick sprint to the south coast, so I clambered into a handy new Land Rover Discovery Sport – the one powered by what people have been inclined to call “the old engine”.

The 2.2-litre Ford-PSA diesel may be getting long in the tooth but it was as good as ever: flexible, quiet, long-legged and torquey.

Its main disadvantage is that it will probably turn out to be thirstier than Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium engines, which will go into the Discovery Sport before the year’s end.

But given that I returned to the office after 120 miles with 40mpg showing on the trip computer, I don’t believe the practical advantage will change the world. The new engine will help company car sales, of course, but the old one looks like being a bit of a star on the secondhand market.

The rest of the car? Its steering and handling are terrific – miles better than the Freelander ever was and better even than the much pricier Range Rover Sport I’ve been driving. Biggest fault I could find was a knobbly low-speed ride – partly attributable, possibly, to the 19in wheels – but it’s excusable in my mind because the handling’s so great.

This may be the everyman Landie, but I reckon its chassis is the most sophisticated yet. 

TUESDAY - As a former McLaren ‘owner’ – remember our 12C long-termer a couple of summers ago? – can I just say how much I approve of the new 570S, first of the marque’s new entry-level Sports Series? When it was first announced that there would be three tiers of McLarens using the same twin-turbocharged V8 engine and carbonfibre tub, I couldn’t see how the range could offer enough variety. Now it looks far more plausible.

Having said that, even if I were in the P1 bracket, I reckon I’d still choose the new £145k 570S from all of them because, to my eye, it’s the nicest car yet. But then, people always make such remarks when they don’t know what it feels like to be rich.

WEDNESDAYJeremy Clarkson is a goner from Top Gear, which, I must say, strikes me as an enormous shame.

For days after the announcement, Tweetosphere was chock-a-block with HR-minded experts insisting that anyone who dots a colleague in the workplace deserves the bullet, and he probably does, but I still see Clarkie’s demise as a matter of tremendous regret. I hope that he turns up somewhere prominent and appropriate to his talents.

THURSDAY - Woke up last night after dreaming that the all-rust, barn-find Porsche 356 sold by Bonhams at Goodwood for a staggering £32,200 had fallen in half as it was loaded onto a trailer.

It was listed in the catalogue at £10,000 to £15,000, with no reserve, but occasion-crazed buyers bid it into the stratosphere. Strikes me that classic car prices are getting as stupid as they were in the early 1990s, when you could buy a Ferrari out of The Sunday Times at the weekend and turn a profit on it a month later.

Modern cars like the Volkwagen Golf R, deemed to be pricey by some, have never looked better value.

FRIDAY - A drive in What Car?’s three-door Vauxhall Corsa makes me especially pleased about GM Europe’s decision to keep this bodystyle for its supermini, when so many others are making five-doors only. It’s a 1.0-litre three-cylinder example, and your eye reads it as a sophisticated little coupé. The three-pot engine hasn’t reviewed quite as well as Ford’s 1.0-litre triple, but it’s a long, long way ahead of the four-cylinder engines that used to power cars like this – to the extent that anything in the patch with a four now operates at a disadvantage.

Our Verdict

The Land Rover Discovery Sport
The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is the successor to the Freelander

The Freelander's replacement goes big on prettiness and packaging, and as a result becomes the class leader

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Comments
4

1 April 2015
You are so right: I follow this subject with interest and am amazed at the prices being asked now, compared to just a couple of years ago - double, even treble in some cases. For example: 18 months ago you could bag a nice unfettled XJS for about 4 grand - more like 8 now for the equivalent (and much more for minters). Many other models have followed suit. It costs a fortune in time and money to restore an old motor to its former glory and it's only right that these should cost a good deal; however the amount of old tat clinging to the shirt-tails of these labours of love, and the prices demanded for such, is becoming laughable - and sometimes even for cars that were crap in their heyday. It is, of course, what happens when the bread-heads and chancers crawl out of the woodwork to muddy the true enthusiast's waters. There is no answer to this: it's market driven, and there are always plenty of numpties out there with more money than sense. Just a shame that for the average Joe, that dream gets more and more unattainable (until, just maybe, bust follows boom).

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

1 April 2015
I also agree about the classic car market. It is just going crazy at the moment with investors, not necessarily enthusiasts, paying crazy money for anything that's out there. The stock market is so volatile that they are looking for somewhere else to make a quick buck. As soon as the stock market is a bit more stable again they will all cash in their classic cars and the market will correct itself. Those that have put lots of money into restoration will probably find themselves out of pocket.

1 April 2015
Wow! I saw that crock of crap parked outside the auction tent at Goodwood. £32K! Unless it's suddenly going to be worth £150k+ after restoration someone has been very silly indeed.

1 April 2015
The prices have been creeping up the last few years; first at the auctions (notably in the States Barrett-Jackson's televised auction in Arizona) and then down to the regular punters who figure that all cars are worth that much more because of what they have seen. Certainly, as with any market, the fair price is what the buyer is willing to give in exchange for the goods but it does seem that we are seeing a late-'80s bubble emerging in the face of a still sluggish economy with a lot of question marks over its head. When someone asks, and gets, five-figures for an AMC Pacer it is time to reevaluate the market.

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