It’s a what now?
Kingsley Cars’ ULEZ Reborn Range Rover Classic, to give it its (very) full name, is a smart way to keep a classic on the road in cities like London. Cities that charge cars that don’t meet specific emissions standards a fee to drive in.
In London there’s a 40-year rolling age limit on classics, thus in 2021 a 1981 (or older) Range Rover can roam around the nation’s capital without having to pay the Ultra Low Emission Zone charge.
Kingsley’s car isn’t any old Range though. It’s been thoroughly restored, given up to date electrical bits, and can come with decidedly un-40-year-old toys like wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay.
Yeah right, ‘restored.’ Lick of paint and a spit polish?
Not quite, cynical friends. Kingsley’s way of doing things cuts no corners, and takes no prisoners. Every classic Range that finds its way to them is stripped bare, has any rotten bits replaced, is treated with stuff that’ll stop it from rotting in future, and painted to perfection. The interior is retrimmed to a customer’s exact spec, and a big ‘ol list of tech options can be added.
Kingsley also gives the old Rover V8 a thorough going over, upping both power and MPG. The ULEZ car comes with a 220bhp 4.0-litre V8, or, as in the white number we were sent to play with, 4.6-litres kicking out 270bhp. Either motor is linked to a modern ZF automatic gearbox.
The springs are given a refresh too, though Kingsley offers an optional ‘Fast Road’ kit designed for more spirited driving… Or tackling speed bumps. You can also get a big brake kit, which, given how many people don’t look when they’re crossing the road in London is probably a good idea. On top of that, the air con actually works too.
Lots of toys, lots of work, lots of everything. How much?
The ULEZ-spec Range, all registered for free cruising and personalised to your spec, kicks off at £125,000. Which is lots. Options can make it more lots. A full leather interior is just shy of £15,500. Big brakes are around £7,000, and special springs are an IMAX ticket off £4,000. A 700w speaker system is £3,995, CarPlay on top is another £1,204. This is not a car for people concerned about their bank balance.
For that kind of scratch it better be good in town…
As a city car it makes more sense than you think. It’s slab sided and narrow for one – it’s an inch slimmer than a Ford Puma. As such, you don’t worry about driving down narrow, traffic-filled streets. There’s acres of room inside thanks to the way they used to make ‘em (NCAP who?).
You sit high and have an amazing view of what’s around you. The pillars are all stick thin and the windows are massive, so you needn’t worry about cars, cyclists, pedestrians, human statues and the like being hidden as you pull out of junctions. Decent visibility aside, Kingsley’s fitted a reversing camera to make sure its massive rear overhang doesn’t make friends with an estate agent’s Mini while parallel parking outside Whole Foods.
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It’s also got bags more presence than most things in the capital. You get admiring glances, comments, and thumbs up from passers-by no matter where you are. Classic Range Rover cool means it looks right wherever you go – be it the Albert Hall or a drive-thru.
Is it good to drive, though?
The V8, even with the optional 4.6-litre 270bhp upgrade, doesn’t feel as quick in town as the quoted 7.0secs 0-62mph time might suggest. Pressing the throttle makes lots of delicious V8 noise, but it takes a beat to translate to brisk forward motion. It keeps up with city traffic nicely though.
The ride on the optional Fast Road springs is wafty as you like, though hard inputs will cause the car to lean more than you’d get in a modern motor. The steering requires a little more heft than you’d expect during low speed manoeuvres, but as a result feels satisfying to use when you’re on the move. There are a couple of things in the ‘bah’ column though – the gearbox and the guilt. The ‘box is slushy and can feel strange to those brought up on a diet of DSG and slick autos. As a quiet, smooth way to get around it feels pretty good.
And the guilt...?
Yeah. Sitting in dense London traffic, V8 blaring and letting out some very-not-low-emission exhaust smells, you can’t help but feel a smidge like you’re breaking some sort of rule. It’s technically allowed, but does that make it OK? If you like tastefully updated classic cars, big V8s, looking cool as they come and being able to see properly, it probably does.
Want a Range Rover that's ULEZ friendly from the box? Here's the new fifth-gen 4x4