All-new and ready to go electric, the Range Rover is back. But is it still relevant?
Genuine automotive icons? There aren’t many. Porsche has at least one, arguably two or three, and so too does Land Rover. Its flagship, the luxury-meets-utility Range Rover may be more than half a century old but it’s only now into its fifth iteration, with an all-new car dubbed L460. Trends, corporate owners, rivals, Prime Ministers… they come and go but the Range Rover remains; aloof yet desirable, aspirational yet practical, contemporary yet timeless.
So, is this new car just more of the same? And when the like of Lotus and Jaguar are offering pure-electric luxury SUVs, does the new Range Rover – which launches with a range of trad petrol and diesel engines – still have a place in the world?
Well, yes. Because while the blueprint may remain the same, this Range Rover is all-new. There’s a breath-of-fresh-air new interior and a stiffer body structure bristling with cutting-edge technology. There’s integrated noise-cancelling technology and a raft of detail engineering to make this one of the quietest, most refined cars on sale today. There’s rear-wheel steering, a first on a Range Rover, to make it easier to drive on twisty roads and easier to park. There’s anti-roll suspension, upgraded to work more quickly and use less fuel than before, and to again to help hide the car’s size and weight on the move. And there’s a raft of new powertrain options, including a BMW-sourced 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8, a couple of imminent plug-in hybrids and, come 2024, a pure electric option. Consider for a moment the challenge of future-proofing this new Range Rover (essentially the same car is able to house engines, hybrids and battery-electric powertrains, and in two wheelbase lengths) and you begin to appreciate just what an engineering marvel it represents.
Climb aboard and the new interior instantly dates the previous one and, being a clean-sheet design, neatly sidesteps some of the confusing controls present in the old car. The new Pivi Pro infotainment is driven via a 13.1-inch landscape-orientated touchscreen and it’s a joy use, with clear, crisp graphics, no lag and intuitive functionality. The digital driver’s display is equally beautiful to look at and to use.
In look and feel the interior is a continuation of the exterior: crisp, uncluttered and classy. There’s also an embarrassment of space, thanks in part to the longer wheelbase. This has prompted Land Rover to offer a number of seating options. The core car seats five. Go long wheelbase and you’ve the choice of two rows (seating four or five, and starting at £124,975) or three, seating seven (from £107,675). SV versions of the core car and the four- or five-seat long wheelbase version are available, and Land Rover’s in-house personalisation division will happily help you make your new Range Rover special – special to the tune of £200k and beyond if you have the means…
But SV doesn’t mess with the Range Rover’s suspension or powertrains, and just five minutes behind the wheel of the new car is enough to appreciate why. The L406 was many things but it was neither agile nor easy to manoeuvre. It was hugely comfortable, but you didn’t hustle it.
This is different. The steering’s nicely weighted and accurate, and the car clings to its composure and sense of control even as you set about holding some pretty decent corner speeds. All that chassis technology really shines, helping make the full-size Range Rover no more taxing or intimidating to drive than an Evoque. At the same time comfort, particularly in the Comfort drive mode, remains almost peerless. Unbelievably quiet and refined, it’s hard to imagine a better long-distance cruiser than this one.
The best engine? The PHEVs will suit some more than others but there’s much to recommend both the P530 twin-turbo petrol V8 (523bhp and 553lb ft) and the very sweet D350 diesel (345bhp and 516lb ft), which suits the Range Rover beautifully, offers better fuel consumption and range than the petrol V8 and barely feels any slower most of the time.
The Charles & Dean verdict
This new Range Rover is no revolution. It is as Range Rovers have long been. But it’s also a masterful re-interpretation of a half-century-old formula, one that retains the car’s trademark style, comfort and off-road ability while also fixing the only real chink in its armour, namely its on-road driving dynamics.
Range Rover: From £99,375, 345bhp turbocharged straight-six (D350), 5.8sec 0-60mph, 145mph