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Car Review

Land Rover Range Rover review

£96,600 - £204,600
910
Published: 02 Jan 2024
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There are other expensive SUVs but there’s only one Range Rover. And it’s better than ever

Good stuff

Wonderful exterior design, interior arguably even better, strong hybrid powertrain, massive breadth of capabilities

Bad stuff

Expensive, very heavy, not that efficient, needs the 48v anti-roll system

Overview

What is it?

The Range Rover is one of those vanishingly rare cars that defies the industry’s traditional product cycle. The last model arrived in 2012 and even in these unpredictable times it was still hitting the spot with its high-end client base a decade later.

But then you see the new one – only the fifth generation in 51 years – and you realise that there are some things even the Range Rover can’t out-run forever. Namely, the march of technology and connectivity, and more pressingly the need to future-proof it as climate change ceases to be a debate and becomes a genuine existential emergency.

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Has the Range Rover reassessed its position on profligate consumption? 

This is an all-new car in every aspect with a critical reappraisal of its place in the world. Key here are two plug-in hybrids, badged P460e and P550e (that equates to 454 and 542bhp respectively). These combine Land Rover’s 3.0-litre six cylinder petrol engine with a 31.8kWh battery feeding a 105kW (141bhp) electric motor to deliver ‘up to 74 miles’ of pure electric driving with CO2 emissions around 16g/km. 50 miles in the real world is more plausible.

Land Rover reckons that typical Range Rover customers will be able to complete 75 per cent of their journeys without ever bothering the internal combustion engine. Not quite a ‘get out of jail free’ card, but a big improvement.

Alongside that sits a pair of diesels – making 296bhp and 345bhp respectively – and two mild hybrid petrols, good for 395bhp and 523bhp. The latter is a twin turbo petrol V8 (sourced from BMW), whose intake has been reconfigured to enable a 900mm wading depth, plus a few other robust mods.

Seriously, has anyone ever taken their Range Rover into a chuffing river? Well, except Her late Majesty. A fully electric model, meanwhile, will arrive in 2024. That’s even less likely to go swimming up the Severn.

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What's new? 

Everything. The outgoing car remains such an archetype that the scale of the challenge here is substantial. There are five fundamental visual pillars on the Range Rover: the falling roofline, pronounced waistline, the rising sill, clamshell bonnet and floating roof. They’ve all been reimagined here, although you need to see new and old side-by-side to grasp just how ingeniously nuanced the changes are.

The panel gaps and shutlines are fabulously tight, and the flush glazing abuts the bodysides in memorable fashion. The rain guttering is hidden, too. Design pushed engineering – and vice versa – and the result is as much an ode to metal-beating and manufacturing technique as it is aesthetics.

This is a car that will be at its imperious best sweeping along the motorway like an automotive super-yacht. The car’s rear end taps into that idea, and is the area of the car that’s most obviously different. Check out the vertical tail-lights, and the way the whole thing is resolved. It’s also notably aerodynamic for a big SUV, with a drag coefficient of 0.30 and a smoother frontal area. Americans might spot shades of Kia’s impressive but not-for-Europe Telluride, but that’s no bad thing. It’s a great looking car, that.

And what tech lies beneath the skin? 

Land Rover says it has taken out 125 patents for the new car and carried out a rigorous development programme that encompassed 140,000 hours of computational analysis. It’s also connected up the wazoo, has a sophisticated air filtration system, active noise cancellation tech in its headrests, and Standard and Long Wheelbase iterations are available, with the option of seven seats for the first time. None of which are cheap.

It’s also important to distinguish between the regular trim levels – SE, HSE and Autobiography – and the SV opportunities. That last one is a whole different ball-game, offering ‘curated’ luxury in the form of Serenity or Intrepid packages. While prices for the Range Rover start at £103,720, the fully loaded SV long wheelbase with the Signature pack – that’s the one you need a chauffeur to fully enjoy – is double that (plus the aforementioned chauffeur’s salary).

"Much of the investment and engineering inside has gone into the tactility," SVO boss Michael van der Sande tells TG. "This is about amplifying the luxury remit and the new car isn’t trying to be something it’s not. We want to avoid mixing our drinks too much."

This is important information. The new iteration pushes Range Rover even further upmarket, leaving the Range Rover Sport to be more, erm, sporty. A target it doesn’t hit nearly as cleanly as this nails the luxury brief.

How is it to drive?

Commanding. That sums it up in one word. It’s not fast. It’s too heavy (around 2.8 tonnes depending on spec) to be able to haul in a straight line, and too ponderous around corners. It really needs the 48v anti-roll system that is only fitted as standard to flagship models. But accusing the Range Rover of not being dynamic is to miss the point – it’s not intended to be. Instead it is calm, relentlessly comfortable and batters its way through bad weather like nothing else.

Is it still capable off-road? 

Well, duh. This is Range Rover’s non-negotiable talent. A 911 GT3 has to be exceptional on track, a Range Rover has to mix it in the rough. And this one does, with a full suite of off-road accoutrements: low range gearbox, Terrain Response, height adjustable air suspension, ground cameras, locking diffs and, for the first time, four wheel-steering to really sharpen up the turning circle. That’s actually handier in Knightsbridge than in the back of beyond, mind you.

How's the cabin? 

Arguably even better than the exterior. It has the same reductive design language with a clean aesthetic that attractive and easy to get on with. There’s a lot of haptic controls on the steering wheel and they’re occasionally frustrating to use, but the central screen is reasonably responsive, logical to use, and has well integrated phone connectivity. More importantly, it feels luxurious to sit in, and the view out is wonderfully open and commanding.

For the full luxury experience, you need the long wheelbase version which features limo levels of legroom. But bear in mind this does reduce practicality as the seats don’t fold as flat as the regular cars. The boot is generous and at least this Range Rover still has the iconic split tailgate.

What's the verdict?

More than ever the Range Rover can legitimately claim to be not just the definitive luxury SUV, but the definitive luxury car

This is a hugely confident car and a mighty achievement. Cleverly conceived, intelligently engineered and breathtakingly well designed, more than ever the Range Rover can legitimately claim to be not just the definitive luxury SUV, but the definitive luxury car. Move over S-Class and i7, as an imperious way of getting yourself about, the Rangey can’t be matched. In fact, more than just a car, this is one of the definitive luxury experiences of any kind.

It’s not dynamic in the same way as the more extrovert Lamborghini Urus or Porsche Cayenne, not even as hustlable as the Bentley Bentayga. But then it isn’t trying to be. It sits in its own world, not expending any more energy trying to define itself than is strictly necessary. The plug-in hybrid versions are the ones to have – it turns out that electric really suits the Range Rover, and a genuine ability to do 50 miles in silence is a game changer.

This is one of those cars that should be sitting in your dream garage alongside a Porsche 911. These are cars that not only define the segments in which they compete, but reliably nail the brief better than any competitor. 50 years of experience counts, after all. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In a topsy-turvy world, we’ll happily run with that.

The Rivals

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