I know I’ve been silent for some time but we’ve been considering replacing our trusty, long serving tow car, a 2006 mark 2 Honda CR-V, a so-called SUV. It’s still a good car, though the technology is dated, and has served us well but it may be time for it to retire to Spain. 😉 So, we’ve been investigating potential replacements in the somewhat crowded SUV market sector. What fun we’re having.
My biggest problem where new cars are concerned is their spare wheel or, more accurately, the usual lack thereof. Our mark 2 Honda CR-V, bless it, has a full-sized spare mounted on the rear door. What a great idea. Not only is it a full-sized wheel but, being on the back door, it can be deployed without having to unload the entire contents of the boot. I have found it necessary to deploy that spare wheel three times in its 9-year history, twice whilst towing in France, hence my sensitivity towards not having one.
Many modern cars come only with an emergency inflation kit, which may or may not work and which is designed for a short run to get you off the motorway to buy a new tyre. (I suspect that you should not permanently repair a tyre once full of the gunge from the inflation kit, though I haven’t actually verified this.) Besides, get a blow-out on a motorway at speed and you’re likely to have damaged the tyre irreparably. The great majority of the remaining new cars come with (or can be supplied with) an emergency space-saver spare, being for short, slower journeys only anyway and I’m not certain of the legalities of towing with one.
Other than exotics, such as an Aston Martin (boyhood dream), I rarely fall in love with a car. However, when Land Rover introduced their Discovery Sport, a replacement to the decidedly average-looking Freelander, it was love at first sight. Surely a Land Rover would, or at least could, have a full-sized spare? It’s a Landie, for Darwin’s sake; it’s a proper off-road vehicle with descent control, etc. I went to one dealership to investigate. Let the fun commence.
Muttering my mantra of “spare wheel and tow bar”, I visited Dealer #1. My first lesson was that there are two engine options, both 2-litre diesels: one, a 150PS unit and the other, a 180PS unit. The latter is much more interesting but the first wrinkle is that all 180PS cars come with temporary seats 6 & 7 folded into the floor of the boot – no space for a spare wheel of any description in there. All is not lost, though, said Dealer #1, there’s no full-sized spare but there is an optional space-saver spare available. This, they said, goes into the boot and you lose the additional seats. [Optional? Land Rover? Proper off road vehicle, no spare? Suspending my disbelief temporarily …] We arranged a test drive. It was an inadequately short test drive but it was clearly a nice car. I don’t want the additional seats anyway; I hardly use seats 3, 4 & 5, never mind 6 & 7.
Being a little less than impressed with Dealer #1, I went to Dealer #2, again muttering “spare wheel and tow bar”.
“You can’t have both”, said the sales-bod, “it’s one or the other”.
“You have to be kidding”, I rejoined, “this is a Landie – a spare OR a tow bar?”.
Off went my man to consult his senior and some technicians.
OK, panic over, I can have an emergency spare and it goes under the boot, not in the boot, as I had been told by Dealer #1. So, you’re still stuck with those silly dickie seats. However, because the spare goes underneath, you can’t have the electrically deployable tow bar, only a manual one. Not an issue for me but …really!
My man then had another thought. He introduced me to an additional cost option [£2000, if you please] tagged a Heavy Duty Towing kit which includes an electrically deployed tow bar, surround cameras and … wait for it … yes, a full-sized spare wheel which “deletes the additional seats and goes inside the boot”. This would be the full-sized spare that Dealer #1 told me didn’t exist. Excellent! Result!! We’re getting somewhere.
Wait, don’t get too excited, there’s a gotcha: the Heavy Duty Towing kit is only offered as an option on an automatic gearbox, not on a manual. What!!?? Why on earth …? [Arghh!]
Temporarily brain dead, I retired to allow for thought before eventually girding my loins to visit Dealer #3 so I could give them the benefit of my “spare wheel and tow bar” mantra, together with the Heavy Duty Towing kit conundrum. After all, it seems that every time you ask a question at a Land Rover dealer, you gat a different answer.
Dealer #3 didn’t even know the Heavy Duty Towing kit existed. He does now. He consulted his technicians and the most likely of three theories as to it’s being unavailable on a manual transmission seems to be that the manual transmission’s clutch might not be able to handle the torque being delivered when a hefty-ish trailer is hitched. Duh! As well as a fine off-roader, this is supposed to be one of the world’s premier tow cars. I clarified that I didn’t really want everything involved in the kit anyway, just a full-sized spare and a regular tow bar.
“Well, you can get just a full-sized spare in the 150PS car”, he said, “and add a tow bar”.
What? This would again be the full-sized spare that Dealer #1 denied. [Arghh again!]
“I can have the full-sized spare on the 150PS but not on the 180PS? This is nonsense!” This will be because the 150PS does NOT have those stupid dickie seats, I suspect.
“Can’t I just have the body of the 150PS, no seats, and a spare, but with a 180PS engine?” He offered to contact Land Rover to find out. I wandered away from Dealer #3. I still haven’t heard.
Desperation sets in; I’m weakening and considering surrender to go for the automatic box just to get that towing kit that supplies my spare wheel. Online, I start specifying a 180PS automatic in SE Tech trim (2nd model up the range, no leather seats and no panoramic sunroof, which I don’t want either). Another gotcha: the magic Heavy Duty Towing kit has once again mysteriously disappeared from the options list!! Not only is it only available on a 180PS automatic box but it’s only available on a 180PS automatic box in an HSE or HSE Luxury trim level. [Arghh yet again!!. No, make that SCREAM!]
There’s another car that DOES come with a full-sized spare: a Hyundai Tucson. It’s £10000 cheaper, too, and comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty (as opposed to a 3-year warranty). It doesn’t, of course, come with a Landie’s street cred but at least Hyundai seem to want to sell cars.