Suddenly, Land Rover, the great 4x4 specialist, looks a bit short on, er, 4x4s. Three Range Rovers and two Land Rovers is all it has. At Mercedes they’re breaking out like the hives. Count ’em: GLA, GLE and GLE Coupe, GLS, plus today’s subject, the GLC (and a GLC coupe to come). Plus, of course, the mighty GL to provide the pure-bred bedrock that brand Land Rover, in this post-Defender age, sadly lacks. Meanwhile BMW will soon have a range that encompasses every X number from 1 to 7.
This tectonic shift towards crossovers isn’t happening because people’s needs have changed. People still fondly imagine a 4x4 will get them through unexpected snow and floods, but it’s not so. As soon as your high-traction, high-clearance vehicle arrives at the otherwise impassible road, it will find its way blocked by stranded non-SUVs. So the number of people who can truly make use of an SUV remains constant: the caravanners and livestock-trailer owners who tow through fields, mainly. And maybe the few who actually liv at the end of the sort of rough tracks pictured here. And if you do live up a green lane, maybe instead spend the price of the SUV on getting it resurfaced? Then your friends can come to visit.
Photography: Richard Pardon
This feature was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Top Gear magazine.