How can we make a car review different, we thought. How can we make it relevant to shooters, stalkers, fishers and outdoors people alike? Let’s be honest, nobody really gives a badger’s arse about insurance bands, fuel economy established in lab conditions, or gimmicky gadgets that only serve to make us lazy. Nope, the focus of a useful review should be on the things that really matter...

How many deer carcasses can you fit in the boot, for example? Is the upholstery easily marked and scuffed by dogs? How comfortable is it to check a rifle’s zero from the bonnet? Would the better half be happy to be seen climbing out of the passenger seat?

First we’d have to find our ‘reviewer’. Who asks such things of a vehicle on an almost daily basis? Who can offer an honest and practical perspective? Who can entertain us with sporting anecdotes and conversation along the way? Mike Robinson, that’s who. The motor-mad chef with a penchant for wild food and tanks plus access to 40,000 acres of prime stalking ground – the ideal vehicle testing area – met the criteria with aplomb. “How about I cook for you when you visit as well?” he suggested when we ran the idea by him. Perfect. The precedent was set – we’d spend the day in the car, chatting all things fieldsports and working up an appetite before heading back to Robinson HQ for a palate-punching conclusion.

men in car The vehicle for the review: a shiny new Land Rover Discovery 5 HSE Td6. The food: slow roast shoulder of roe and spatchcocked partridges. Some day it would turn out to be…

So what does Mike look for in a vehicle? “It comes down to practicality,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “First and foremost, it must be capable of the job at hand.” He was quick to point out that the test vehicle’s predecessor – the Discovery 4 (by coincidence Mike’s current whip) – was what he considers the last of the Land Rover models based on an ‘agricultural’ vehicle. “The new Discovery is a rethink – a super-smart SUV, that, let’s be honest, most owners will be using on nice, even tarmac roads. It’s less of a crossover vehicle, designed 70/30 with on-road/off-road needs in mind.”

outside land rover Throughout the day we discussed a few of the more unusual vehicles parked up in Mike’s garages – a fox armoured vehicle; a weapons carrier which landed in Normandy on June 8, 1944; a Scorpion tank with a live 76mm gun, the blanks for which contain a pound and a half of powder! We spoke, too, of the exponential growth in the popularity of venison in recent years - a burgeoning demand that Mike has played no small part in bringing about, and has plans to further solidify through exciting ventures with two new eateries. Here’s a field to fork ‘distribution network’ the likes of which no other restaurant on the planet can boast. More on that in a later issue…

Similar to his cooking, Mike’s reviewing style is honest and to the point. We’d driven 30 miles or so on dual carriageways and winding Cotswold lanes when he began to get a feel for the car’s on-road performance. “As far as the driving position goes, it outshines its predecessor,” he said. “My elbows are in the right place, and my shoulders are relaxed, which is important for long drives. The seats are firmer than what I’m used to, though,” he observed as he adjusted the shape of his back support with the press of a button.

“It doesn’t feel as cavernous as the ‘4’, but there’s a sensible amount of storage space and useful cubby holes, and there’s limited body roll and wallowing as you corner. It feels tighter, more responsive and more manoeuvrable than what I have in the driveway back home, and the visibility when driving is great,” he continued. “That said, the rounded edges – the slicker, aerodynamic design – can take a bit of getting used to. Go to a Land Rover dealership now and many of the vehicles look much the same – there’s no doubt the newer models have lost a bit of that charming identity the brand became so well known for.”

Where else is there room for improvement, then? “There are some frustrating features like the barrage of beeps and beacon-like lights when a door is opened, or the over complex electronic button for the boot (what’s wrong with a simple handle?). These things are more of a hindrance than a help, especially if you’re trying to be discreet - imagine trying to park somewhere before stalking into a high seat at first light,” Mike observed.

There’s much to be positive about, though. “Land Rovers are well-known for punishing you over hard bumps, but the Discovery 5’s suspension seems to soak these up readily whilst remaining firm enough for a grippy ride when on the road.”

A thousand miles in, the test vehicle, with its low-revving 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine, was averaging 29.4mpg, the large centre screen is very useful for looking at maps, the reversing camera is very clear, and there are handy buttons which fold the back seats forward to make more space and lower the tailgate for when you’re heaving that elevenses basket back into the boot. You can rest a pair of binos on the dashboard, too – no silly gradients here!

Of course, it’s right at home off road, too. Despite its softer looks, it has ample ground clearance (283mm), and it’s 500kg lighter than the previous model thanks to the all-aliminium platform it shares with the Range Rover. Indeed, with the right tyres you’d be hard pressed to get it properly stuck!

“All in all it’s a step up in luxury, it’s very comfortable for longer journeys and it remains impressive off-road,” Mike concluded. “The real question many will find themselves asking, is: dare they really push a vehicle which retails at £65,205 to the limits it has been designed to cope with, and would they actually be just as well spending a little more and buying a Range Rover?”

Oh, by the way, we managed to fit eight medium-sized fallow (head and feet removed) in the boot, Mike’s better half took a shine to the vehicle’s looks, the leather seats wipes down a treat, there aren’t too many silly crooks and crannies for pigeon feathers to become wedged in, and you can quite comfortably check zero of a 6.5x55 from the bonnet!


  • Fuel tank: 85 litres
  • 0-60mph: 7 seconds
  • Max. power output: 306hp
  • Max. total torque: 700nm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Max. towing: 3,500kg
  • Wading depth: 900mm
  • Ground clearance: 283mm
  • On the road price: £65,205

And so to the culinary conclusion


- Serves 4


  • 4 whole partridges, plucked and drawn
  • Plain natural yoghurt
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • Mint leaves, chopped
  • Coriander, chopped
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • Cumin 3
  • lemons
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2tsp Baharat (mixed spices)
  • Basil
  • Flat-leafed parsley
  • Rock salt
  • Mixed grill spices


1. Using a pair of scissors or poultry shears, cut up either side of the backbone of each partridge and remove the bone.

2. Wipe insides with some kitchen towel, hold each bird breast down and with a heavy knife, chop the pelvic bone between the partridge legs. Then place breast up in a roasting tray.

3. Pour over the olive oil and yoghurt, then add the chopped mint, coriander, 2-4 tbsp of honey and the juice of a lemon. Mix it all together, covering the partridges evenly as you do.

4. Cook for 15 minutes at 220ºC, then finish over hot coals for 5 minutes. 


1. Add the juice and zest of two lemons to a food processor with 200ml EV olive oil, a big handful of basil, coriander and flat-leafed parsley, 5 cloves of garlic and a big pinch ofgrilled spices.

2. Blitz all ingredients for a minute, adding more oil if necessary. Pour into a bowl and serve alongside the partridge once cooked.


meat with yoghurt

squeezing lemon

handling chicken

green sauce

partridge on bbq