His Grace, the Duke of Roxburghe, owns a 54,000-acre Scottish estate and lives in Floors Castle. He drives a Range Rover TDV8
WD: Naturally you drive a 4×4 – but why a Range Rover?
DR: I have driven Land Rovers for a very long time now. My father died in 1974 when I was 19, and he had just taken delivery of a very early Range Rover that he had converted to a fourdoor from a two-door. I thought they were great off-road vehicles that also worked on the road. I was always very happy with the Range Rover, so I stayed with them.
WD: How many Range Rovers have you owned?
DR: I have kept them for an average of four years, so over 30 years or so I must have had seven or eight.
WD: How do you use your car?
DR: Both on the road and on the estate, it gets used wherever I’m going. It’s my only car and it acts both as an on-road and off-road vehicle, here in Scotland and on trips down to Yorkshire.
WD: Have you never been tempted to have something different for a change?
DR: I am loyal. I have been in BMWs and Toyota Land Cruisers belonging to other people, but I have never had any reason not to stay with the Range Rover. It successfully covers all the bases, and achieves everything I want to do on and offroad. I could easily have another car with better on-road performance and a regular Land Rover to do the off-road bit, but to find both combined in the Range Rover is attractive to me. Its offroad capability is extremely good.
WD: What do you especially like about it?
DR: I like the height – the fact that when you’re driving around you can see a lot more about you.
WD: Have you seen much change in your vehicles over the years?
DR: They have got considerably better in the last five to ten years for handling. They used to roll very badly on the road, but it’s now much better. The mpg ratio was atrocious in older ones – about 16 to the gallon. My present car does about 22mpg. Any improvement the manufacturers make in that regard is very welcome. The engine has improved a lot. They used to be quite noisy and a bit of a tank to drive, but not any more.
WD: What use do you make of it on the estate?
DR: I don’t do a lot of serious off-roading, mostly driving on the hill when I’m going shooting. I am embarrassed to say that I got myself stuck on the tracks here in the early days, but I have learnt a lot more about the capability of my car now. Land Rover has been using our land for the launch of their new cars, and I have been amazed by what the vehicles will do. Over the past two to three weeks, I have been staggered by their performance both up and downhill.
WD: What kind of a driver are you?
DR: I’m aggressive – I enjoy driving fast. The police frequently sit with mobile cameras up here, but thankfully they warn in the local paper which roads they are going to be on.
WD: What sort of use does your car get, and what do you do with it?
DR: I do between 18,000 and 20,000 miles a year, with a lot of driving around the area, and to Edinburgh when I fly to London. I drive around the estate to see the farming operation, the forestry, and the stud where we breed racehorses, which is something my father set up after the war. We have 16 mares and produce about 12 foals a year.
WD: Do you have a preference for diesels?
DR: Yes, unlike my son, who is a petrolhead. Diesel is supposed to be marginally cleaner, and everybody seems to have gone for diesel cars. My wife has a diesel Audi and the engine is fantastic. All engines seem to have got better and they’re much more eco-friendly than they ever were.
WD: As the custodian of a huge estate, do you worry about the environment?
DR: Yes, the environment is absolutely crucial, and as estate owners we are guardians of the countryside. We have a major challenge facing us that dictates change. So whatever we can do to make a difference to that in our small way is quite vital. We installed a bio wood chip boiler around 18 months ago on the estate and it has been extremely successful. It improves our CO2 emissions and makes good use of a resource that we readily have here. Every business has to aspire to be ecological, at each and every stage you have to look at everything and see what you can do to improve.