Range Rover best of British living legend
- Credit: supplied
Motoring editor Andy Russell says the latest Range Rover is a luxurious, larger-than-life legend.
When some here today, gone tomorrow, five-minute wonder is described as a 'legend' it really grates with me. I consider a legend something that changes the world – or at least people's thinking, been at the top of its game and is aspirational in that it sets the bar for others to try to follow.
It's a tag I happily endow on the Range Rover – a legend in its own lifetime – recognised worldwide for combining the ultimate in luxury and go-anywhere off-road ability.
From its more utilitarian beginnings I have grown up admiring and desiring this best of British status symbol and the expansion of the Range Rover brand, with the entry-level Evoque sport utility vehicle, has only strengthened, rather than diluted, this flagship's prestige panache.
With the Range Rover Sport also growing in stature and image, the range-topping fourth-generation Range Rover has become even bigger and better, rising to new levels of luxury... and price.
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It has always been imposing but the latest incarnation has enormous presence, towering over most occupants. Despite its size, the fact it doesn't feel huge to drive highlights the advances in engineering and technology that have gone into this latest generation.
The world's first SUV with a all-aluminium body – 39% lighter than the previous steel one – also features a new lightweight chassis and suspension which makes it up to 420kg lighter and also makes a big difference to economy and emissions.
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That means the Range Rover can use smaller engines with the 258PS 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel – also boosted with an electric motor in the forthcoming hybrid – joining the 510PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol and 339PS 4.4-litre V8 turbo diesel.
The big V8 diesel has awesome performance with a back-shoving 700 Newton metres of torque seeing a vehicle that, despite its dieting still weighs in at 2,360kg, come alive with a mere prod of the throttle and surge forward when you kick down the eight-speed automatic gearbox. On a run you can get 36-38mpg – this unstressed engine is pulling around 1,400rpm at an indicated 70mph – but expect about 30mpg overall.
With its height-adjustable air suspension, designed to cope with a variety of on and off-road conditions, the Range Rover wafts along poor roads at speed without being floaty but the big tyres thump over bumps and potholes at low speeds. For a tall SUV, it boasts excellent body control so doesn't wallow through corners.
The standard model has loads of legroom, so I can only imagine what the long wheelbase version is like, and getting in and out is made easier by the ability to lower that air suspension.
The cosseting, comfortable interior blends tasteful, traditional British craftsmanship, luscious leather, wood and alloys, with a virtual instrument panel which comes alive when you fire the starter button. A wealth of technology, on top of the permanent four-wheel drive and high and low-ratios gears, keeps you on the road and gets to grips off-road – not that many people will explore its rough-terrain potential given the hefty price tag.
The huge boot with its electrically-operated split tailgate has a high floor which makes reaching to the back tricky if you are short. Even the rear seat backs recline and fold flat electrically.
Perched high up in the Range Rover, with its commanding views, it's easy to see why it is considered the pinnacle of success by so many.