The giant car test

Sean O'Grady discovers where size really does matter
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I think this is what you might call a tall order. Can Britain's two newest home-produced stretched limos meet the challenge posed by Chris Greener, Britain's tallest, man?

I think this is what you might call a tall order. Can Britain's two newest home-produced stretched limos meet the challenge posed by Chris Greener, Britain's tallest, man?

Perhaps it was an unfair task to set the Rover 75 limousine and the Jaguar XJ Super, both built with a specially lengthened floor, extended rear doors and extra legroom and goodies thrown in. The British ambassadors, ministers and mayors that these two are aimed at are likely to fall some way short of Chris' 7ft 6in frame, even when wearing a tricorn hat or some ostrich plumes on their heads.

Yet the Jaguar and the Rover claim unparalleled space as well as grace and pace for their respective flagships.

Jaguar says its limo has the longest wheelbase and length (both increased by 125mm) in their part of the market and the Super V8 (and it is super to drive) enjoys 999mm (more than 39in) of legroom, plus "fully competitive" headroom. All for £72,000.

Not to be outdone, although approaching the limo market from a notch or two lower down in the social scale, Rover claims glorious things of its creation. With a wheelbase extended by 200mm, and leapfrogging mere Jags, the chaps from Longbridge take aim straight at the flying lady in their marketing literature: "The Rolls Royce Phantom costs £252,037, yet offers just 3cm of extra legroom, a similar headroom and 2cm more shoulder room." Cheeky, even if you can enjoy plutocratic comfort with a smooth V6 for £30,000 at your Rover dealer.

Such bombast deserves to be put to the test. The surprise is that Chris gave both cars a (slightly cramped) thumbs up.

No chance of getting behind the wheel, but Chris managed to squeeze himself into the back of both vehicles. Britain's tallest man issued a clear verdict: "If it was my own money, I'd say the Jaguar, just" declared Chris. "It has just a little more headroom. But I wouldn't have either. I haven't really been able to find a car that can suit me to drive in unmodified form. I did try a Toyota Land Cruiser at the motor show once but that model was replaced and the new one was too small."

So how does Chris get around? Well, you may not be surprised to know that he has owned an Austin Maxi, but he has also found himself at the wheel of a Hillman Imp (touches of irony there) and a pre-war Riley, when he was a teenager. ("I was only 6ft 7in then, a shrimp"). Now he drives a trusty older-model Volkswagen Passat estate, the seat some way back, but still with room for a rear passenger.

The trick, Chris reveals, is to have the seat lowered to the floor. Chris' VW is getting on a little now, though. So if any car makers want someone to act as an ambassador for their latest capacious wagon, there is a giant with a big test ready and waiting for them.

motoring@independent.co.uk

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