DRIVEN’s swashbuckling correspondent Fernando Morales of The Gentleman’s Topcoat recently sampled the delights of driving Land Rovers off-road—in the middle of New York City.

Read on for the full field notes…

The kind of man with half of his cuff buttons undone and tortoiseshells perched high up on the bridge of his nose—trim specifications of mud, grime and dust lie in the fine print…

All in the midst of Manhattan.

Only the maddened genius of Land Rover would cook up an off-road course in the middle of one of the most “on”-road cities in the world.

But the New York Auto Show was in full swing, and Land Rover cannot be fully defined without that simple duality; the metropolitan—the unexplored.

For the modern nomad where car-ridden horizons not only include open stretches of road, but skyward-facing swaths of blue and descents of quickly approaching earth, the Land Rover beckons the extremes of automotive conditions.

To satiate Land Rover’s full range of groaning and eager vehicles, a massive empty lot was converted into the only off-road course in Manhattan.

Twenty-four hours, 50 truckloads of dirt and gravel, and 25 years in the American market was all it needed for it to take place.

An industrial reminder of our location was the massive vestiges of the New York Central Railroad (the High Line) that cast shadows over the rising and falling hills of dirt.

Experiencing Land Rover’s full fleet and the extent of automotive prowess its machines had to offer, we settled on one vehicle we kept wanting to come back to.

This brisk morning, we’d plant our ourselves firmly in the seat of our current platonic infatuation—the Range Rover Supercharged.

Encapsulated with the finest furnishings the marque offers, we felt ourselves loving the role of both tank commander and adventure-bound dignitario.

Climbing embankments of eight-foot-tall mounds of dirt and descending over the crushed remains of a Yellow Cab Ford Crown Victoria, the Range Rover Supercharged performs with undeniable poise.

The only reminder of the extreme angles endured was our much stimulated inner ear as our surefooted machine proactively accommodated itself to the terrain.

Heaving mounds of dirt led us up hills that immediately recessed for a terrain where three out of four tires remained in contact with our manmade ground while rising a foot above its surface.

Perched at top of our second steep climb was a green 1966 Land Rover Series IIA Defender, a reminder of their heritage behind its very capable descendants.

Having had a grand time with the Range Rover Evoque in the mountains of Whistler Blackcomb, we decided to indulge in Land Rover’s flagship Range Rover a few more times before we’d pry ourselves  from its inviting interior.

A few more runs of the circuit and we felt the mounting addictions these slopes and ruts had engrained into our minds.

Accompanied by its Hill Descent Control and its onslaught of adjustments, our path through the circuit was nothing short of graceful.

Our only unfulfilled desire was a 5.0-liter Supercharged V8, which had been barely been tickled. These were fantasies left for the outskirts of Manhattan though.

Emerging from our capsule of luxury, we looked upon the most handsome of vehicles in the most hard-earned finishes—clay orange mud along its lower quarter. Earned in Manhattan no less.

You can’t wear that kind of attitude on your wrist or cuff no matter how hard you try.

And while you may want to attempt it, you won’t be able to get this dirty with a ride that drives this clean on all terrains.

After all, 25 years setting the pace for adventure has got to count for something.

And if you’re not up for that kind of thing—don’t worry, it cleans up pretty well, too…

F.M.