What is it?
The luxury SUV market is booming right now – and it was the Range Rover that arguably started it all. However, while it used to be in a fairly exclusive class, it now has plenty of competitors, some of which offer ludicrously high price points with technology and luxury to match.
At first glimpse, both inside and out, the new Range Rover doesn’t look all that revolutionary. But with new benchmarks for what customers want – and are willing to pay for it – Land Rover has upped the ante.
New Range Rovers don’t come around that often, with this being just the fifth generation and the first new model in a decade. But does it have what it takes to show those new on the scene that it’s still the top dog?
The whole car has been overhauled, sitting on a new platform that offers standard and long wheelbase versions with five or seven-seat configurations. There’s new technology everywhere you look, whether it’s improving comfort and off-road abilities through the electronic air suspension, enhancing refinement through noise cancellation, or introducing better connectivity such as Amazon Alexa.
Luxury car buyers are increasingly eco-conscious, too, so there will be petrol-electric plug-in hybrids (PHEV) (with an all-electric model coming in 2024) and luxurious alternatives to traditional leather.
What’s under the bonnet?
Electrification is increasingly key, and as such there will be a pair of PHEV powertrains, called P440e and P510e. They combine a six-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor with a 38.2kWh battery that offers up to 62 miles of electric-only motoring.
So far, those engines make up about a quarter of sales, with 35 per cent going to the mild-hybrid petrol. Our test car was the D300, which sits alongside the D350 as one of two mild-hybrid diesels that make up 40 per cent of sales.
It’s a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder unit that makes 296bhp and 650Nm of torque, with a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 135mph. Economy? You’re looking at CO2 emissions of 207g/km and fuel consumption of 35.8mpg.
What’s it like to drive?
One of the keys to the Range Rover’s class-leading status is its exquisite driving experience, and this new version has turned comfort up to 11. Out on the road, the air suspension irons out all but the worst bumps in the road, and the car’s speaker system uses active noise cancellation to filter out unwanted noise, making it incredibly quiet.
With the all-wheel steering, the Range Rover is very agile for such a big car, and the perfectly judged steering makes it so easy to drive that you quickly forget about the size of the thing even on country lanes.
Despite its wide-ranging suite of driver assistance technology, the biggest compliment that can be paid is that they were not noticeable. Often, large cars can get jittery as the tech struggles to keep it in lane, but there was no intrusion from unwanted ‘assistance’.
How does it look?
To the casual observer, not a great deal appears to have changed with the new Range Rover, particularly up front – though it’s perhaps no surprise, because revolutionising a successful product is risky. However, the blocky front grille and LED headlights bring a more focused, modern edge, while the lower grille that incorporates many of the assistance sensors helps provide bulkier proportions.
The real revolution is around the back, though. There’s a minimalist vibe, with the full-width black bar incorporating the Range Rover badge also home to the scrolling indicators, before falling into a vertical line on the bodywork for the brake lights. Its lines are as clean as a concept car and it truly elevates the exterior’s modern luxury appeal.
What’s it like inside?
In the luxury market, the interior is where the difference can be made. And with the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley entering the luxury SUV market, the Range Rover has new benchmarks of design and quality.
The materials are superb throughout, from the comfortable seat upholstery to even the most hidden recesses of the cabin, with plenty of space available for all passengers, too. There’s a minimalist design, with the 13.1-inch curved infotainment display controlling the majority of functions.
It’s here we encounter our only major issue with the new Range Rover, which was that the Apple CarPlay was glitchy and couldn’t hold a connection. Other minor issues included the graphics on the heat seating dial being slow to respond to inputs, an annoying speaker buzz that disappeared after a reset, and overly sensitive auto wipers – not deal-breakers but unexpected on a car that costs six figures, and hopefully just a symptom of us driving early builds.
What’s the spec like?
Prices start at £99,375 for the SE trim with the D300 engine, with standard equipment including 21-inch alloy wheels, perforated Windsor leather upholstery, heated rear seat, Pixel LED headlights and a Meridian sound system.
At the top of the range is the SV with the P350 powertrain, coming with 22-inch alloy wheels, SV semi-aniline leather upholstery, massaging seat functions, digital LED headlights and an upgraded Meridian stereo.
Our Autobiography model sits around the middle of the range and costs from £119,275, though we had the Charente Grey paint job and privacy glass extras, adding £1,340 to the price. This brought it close to the average price of configured Range Rovers so far, which is around £125,000.
The new Range Rover has yet again set a new benchmark. Despite it being almost impossible to buy one under six figures, there are pricier options that still can’t quite match its class.
If you want to be flashy this might be underwhelming, but the Range Rover has never been about that. It has all of the technology you want, incredible refinement and the kind of badge appeal rivals would kill for, all while somehow flying under the radar.
If luxury, refinement and understated class are key, there’s still nothing that comes close.