Steering Column 04.07.08

King off the road

LAND Rover is going to bring out its most ostentatious production Range Rover yet.

Lined with a herd’s worth of the finest leather, it is trimmed with parts of some expensive trees and has more luxury equipment than you could shake a mahogany twig at.

Perhaps appropriately enough for a car that will draw so much attention to its driver, it will be known as the Autobiography. So far as the owner is concerned, it’s all about me.

At a smidgen under £73,000, it has more leather than ever before, and not just ordinary cow hide either. This is the automotive equivalent of M&S leather – semi-aniline and from the very best hides. Semi-aniline is part-treated so that it looks quite natural but is relatively easy to look after, but from the way Land Rover talks about it, you’d think it was from the unfortunate bovine’s inner thigh. It’s everywhere – the facia, door casings, door bins, seats, centre console, steering wheel and even round the edges of the floor mats.

Vegetarians need not apply.

It will be shown to the public for the first time at the British International Motor Show in London later this month.

Minor royal off the road

A bit further down the class tree, Citroën is bringing out a new petrol model of its C-Crosser, the high-stepping four-wheel-drive estate car.

It has a powerful 170bhp, 2.4-litre engine that can make the car do the 0-62mph sprint in under 10 seconds and give you an average fuel consumption of just over 30mpg.

A five-seater C-Crosser in VTR trim has automatic folding, sliding and reclining rear seats, cruise control, light-sensitive headlights and a split tailgate. You can also get the new engine with exclusive trim and coupled up to an automatic CVT gearbox.

It is no slouch and it is no poor cousin, but you could buy three C-Crosser VTRs for the same price as the Range Rover I was talking about a minute ago, and still have enough change for a Harley Davidson Road King for the weekends.

Minor changes to Baby MPV

Toyota’s pocket-sized multi-purpose vehicle – the Verso SR – is getting its goody-bag topped up with a better range of what are called “premium features” without “compromising its wallet-friendly character”.

Added to the already fairly impressive list of equipment, there are now front as well as rear parking sensors so that you can virtually parallel park with your eyes shut. It’s even got an easy-to-read proximity indicator on the dashboard.

You don’t get away with an upgrade these days without the inclusion of new-design alloy wheels, and the SR is no exception. It also adds a built-in six-CD autochanger.

On the list of extra-price options is something that’s genuinely very useful at holiday time. The in-car entertainment system includes a couple of seven-inch screens on the back of the front seats so the kids in the back can watch DVDs or play games.

Prices start at £17,545 for the 1.8-litre SR with a manual gearbox, but if you add a little over a grand you can get it with the excellent D-4D diesel engine. The gaming/screening kit costs a further £940.


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