Latest Range Rover delivers unrelenting style as its consistent remit
With the gigantic BMW X7 on the horizon and style, space and pace consciousness uppermost in its mind, highlights Iain Robertson, Land Rover has gathered momentum in abundance and launches bravely into enhanced refinement and an ever greater sense of occasion, with accompanying price tags topping the £170,000 mark.
In a new world of £2m hypercars possessing two-seat performance like never before, having to spend £200k on a method of transporting luggage and offspring from Etruscan villa to Casino Square is a mere trinket to be endured by the family chauffeur. This is a world in which I have no place, even though I have been fortunate to have sampled its fruits but I can only muse wistfully on what life might be like in the stratosphere of either ‘old’, or newer high-tech money, where the ackers are never the upfront consideration. Holding a non-dom status might help in Blighty, as long as you do not mind the battering your personal life might take. Yet, as a senior official, a government minister, more likely a potentate, arriving in style is the international prerequisite and a task that Range Rover has mastered virtually since the outset, much to the chagrin of its nearest rivals.
It is sometimes hard to believe that the original 1970 £2,000 Rangie was little more than a sophisticatedly suspended Defender possessing a spray-clean plastic interior. From its classless agricultural origins to being parked in front of stately homes, princely palaces and historical castles took around a decade to achieve but rewarded Land Rover with an automotive status every bit as great as that of Rolls Royce, which it has never lost in the past 42 years. However, for some peculiar reason, while a Merc, or more recent big BMW, or Audi, would have provided faultless, glitch-free usership, failure to meet an appointment at Windsor, or worse, Buck House, with a possibly steaming but equally likely, electronically incapacitated Rangie parked on an M4 hard shoulder ought to have been more frustrating than reports suggest it has been.
Users at this level of purported excellence possess expectations and unreliability is not one of them. While the company has tried to be a fast reactor, its fail rate has peaked at various points through a troubled history. Yet, for some inexplicable reason that I can only presume to be style and presence, let alone sky-high price-tag related, the company has gotten away it and successive variants continue to cost ever more, as the Range Rover’s image scales fresh pinnacles. Only now is the division addressing the environmental dictates that it clarioned, while the Indian consortium of Tata was starting to shuffle its sandals beneath the West Midlands management desks. A much-needed all-electric model will not appear for another couple of years but, fortunately, time is on its side. Whether through duff administration, or blissful ignorance, an inexcusable litany of mechanical, electronic and material failures has played ‘Whack-a-Mole’ with its customers but barely cried into its tea mugs. I can only pray and hope that the latest models will strike a genuine paydirt commensurate with Range Rover’s snooty and deservingly elevated status, after all, the brand is good for both UKplc and India.
The apparent quality, tactility, appeal and useability of the latest longer, wider, more capacious Range Rover is the stuff of wonderment. From the electronic seat adjusters, to the elegant folding table in the rear centre console, or the podium seats on the lower tailgate, every element of the latest Rangie exudes an intense aura of high-end expense and funding-no-object exquisiteness. Invest in the million-plus potential options for the bespoke SV versions and even costing in excess of quarter of a million Pounds underscores a virtual hyper-luxury bargain. Even the Maybach version of the biggest Merc SUV cannot provide as much lounging space, or individual comfort options as a Range Rover in LWB form and even that space can be filled, if so desired, with a couple of additional seats for the first time in the car’s history.
The ‘new’ petrol and diesel power units may sound antediluvian in today’s era of electrification but, as mentioned earlier, a solution is en-route. The Ingenium 3.0-litre straight-six is a delicious power plant, matched only by the grumbling petrol bi-turbo V8 that can whisk a PM out of a ‘Partygate’ troublespot in a trice, despatching the 0-60mph dash in around 5.0s, before topping out at around 165mph, active suspension aiding stability and a mix of either plug-in (up to 70mls in EV only mode), or mild hybrid technology reducing marginally the pain at the pumps, not that price per litre would trouble users’ Swarovski encrusted debit cards, or the UK Chancellor for that matter. To be fair to the Rangie, it is peerlessly different.
The new Range Rover has adopted some of the style aspects of the Velar model, such as concealed door handles and a smoothly aerodynamic profile but there is markedly more to it than that. Clean cut, svelte and effortlessly handsome, while hints of unmistakable evolutionary style exist, the car is entirely new and gains immeasureably from its LED lighting arrays both at the front and rear of the vehicle. It is not ‘pretty’ but it conceals its bulk confidently, riding on alloy wheels starting at 21.0 but increasing to 23.0-inches diameter. The interior has also been decluttered and, while electronic touchscreens still predominate, judicious curvature and skinny surfaces help to reduce overall lardiness. Even the briefest of scans around the new model highlights the intensity of design integrity that has entered the frame. It is admirable.
With base prices starting from £103,485 and SV versions from £146,200 to £173,200, before bespoking onto another level, the new Range Rover is justifiably premium tagged. If you reside in Dubai and play in the dunes, you can rely on the new model’s 4×4 competence as before, even though breaking new UK ground in a six-figure Rangie may have similar resonance to teacher scraping fingernails down a blackboard. The new Range Rover is a spectacular beast and its place in the market is assured.