Its fair to say that the original Range Rover changed the world; all-weather, all-surface mobility was no longer the preserve of the working and the hardy. Luxury which, in the early cars was engineered in rather than designed - opened up the genre to a whole new demographic and after the well heeled and well bred had had their fill, the benefits of an all-wheel-drive estate filtered down to the rest of us. The results are with us even today; every single crossover, soft-roader, and SUV owes its existence to the original Range Rover.
This latest incarnation of the Range Rover brand is the most luxurious, expensive, and polished of them all. Our example, which is by no means the most expensive, is knocking on the door of 80,000, placing it in direct competition with some very, very desirable cars. The fact that few will ever venture off the beaten path is irrelevant; like a Rolex watch, it isnt what it will do that is important, its what it can do that you are paying for.
Our test car, finished in Corris Grey, is very recognisably a Range Rover and very much a 21st century example at that: the jewel-like front and rear lights are present and correct, as is the floating roof, Evoque-esque sloping roofline, and Land Rover corporate grille.
Faux strakes in the front doors have replaced the outgoing models front wing-mounted versions, a visual trick that serves to lengthen and lower the car. But it is still a big car, visual misrepresentation notwithstanding. Parked next to an Evoque, the Range Rovers height, width, and length are all too apparent. This makes for happy passengers but does restrict the cars usability in towns; in Llangollen, a town strewn with tight, narrow backstreets and too few parking spaces, it struggled, just a little. Elsewhere the cars mass shrinks around you, like all the best ones do.
Small, thoughtful design features abound: the Range Rover silhouette on the B-post; the Range Rover puddle lights; and the split tailgate. The overall effect is magnificent.
The interior of a car that is in direct competition with top-end Audis, Mercedes, and even Bentleys had better be good, and the Range Rovers is.
The sleek, clean, almost Bauhaus qualities of the current Range Rover range have been carried through in the new flagship model.
The result is a very contemporary take on luxury; black wood veneer, white seat leather, and lashings of satin chrome. Its might sound a bit Peter Stringfellow, but it isnt. Well, most of it isnt.
Mood lighting, available in a variety of colours, is a gimmick, albeit one that my nine-year-old son appreciated. He loved the TV too, and the heated rear seats, which suggests that your average oligarch or captain of industry has either the fashion sense of a pre-pubescent schoolboy or my son is unusually advanced in his sense of the aesthetic
The new model is up to 420kg lighter than the old one, and it shows. There is a deftness to the current model that flows through every control; it stops, accelerates, and corners far, far better than it has any right to and there is a delicacy (which mustnt be confused for a flimsiness, of which there isnt a hint) that speaks of engineering prowess and design confidence. Heft has no place in a car like this, except in the abstract reassurance of invulnerability and few cars impart a greater sense of security than this.
It does roll, of course it does; Adaptive Dynamics can only do so much to quell the pitch and roll of a vehicle this tall and heavy and only a fool would drive it like a sports car. Yet you can string a cross-country blast together in a very satisfying way, nonetheless.
The Range Rovers USP has always been its performance in the rough, a trait that the new one upholds wonderfully. I took it along a challenging green lane I had last driven three years ago. The road surface had deteriorated significantly since then, yet the Range Rover took it all in its stride with nary a graunch or shuffle.
I didnt touch the Terrain Response knob either, leaving it in full Auto mode and would suggest that you do the same; it is far cleverer than you in knowing what to do and when as your adrenaline rises, dulling your fine motor skills and calling for urgent action that is probably neither urgent or necessary.
The 3-litre turbo diesel of our car produces only 258hp. Mind you, it also churns out 442lb/ft of torque, which is generally enough for me, even in a car this big. A 4.4-litre V8 diesel (339hp and 516lb/ft) is available for those who need to tow bungalows around the country on a regular basis.
The engine is, as you might expect, quiet, refined, and sounds uncannily undiesel-like. I liked it a lot.
I eked out almost 30mpg over the course of a weeks ownership, which I thought was rather good given the amount of off-roading and town work I subjected the poor old thing too. I have no doubt that a fuel consumption figure that starts with a three is possible.
Value for Money
Are you kidding? This is an eighty thousand pound car, a vast sum of money that no-one needs to spend on what is, after all, only a way of getting from A to B. Twenty thousand pounds gets you behind the wheel of a Skoda Yeti, another all-purpose car that excels in the role of quietly and competently moving your family across dale and motorway in an understated fashion.
And yet, friends and passers-by regularly overestimated how much the new Range Rover costs. Most started at one hundred grand, which shows how upmarket the Rangie is looking these days and one chap commented that he thought the price was very reasonable and given he is considering buying one, my thoughts on the subject are almost irrelevant
The Range Rover is utterly bewitching. I loved every minute of my time with it and even indulged in that oft-quoted-but-rarely-true journalistic clich of popping to the shops for an unnecessary pint of milk just to get behind the wheel for a few minutes. It is at the top of its game and for those who can afford it no other car comes close. It is, probably, the second-best car in the world.
The best? Well, the Range Rover Sport is, model-for-model, twenty thousand pounds cheaper and offers the option of seven seats. It also handles better than its big brother on-road and is just as competent off-road. Its easier to park and copes with city life better than the full-fat Range Rover too.
If money were no object, Id buy the Range Rover Sport in a heartbeat but then I suspect that you are either a Range Rover owner, or a Range Rover Sport owner. Im probably ten years too young to consider the Daddy at the moment - and when grey hairs are starting to sprout in unlikely places I am grateful for any intimation of youth.
I do miss it, though.