The Range Rover has always been an iconic outdoors vehicle, known for its rugged appeal, its ability to munch miles, and its dependable luxury even while on an expedition. In India, though, the Range Rover has been a status symbol, given the king-of-the-road feel it offers. The new Range Rover is certainly built for royalty, raising the bar higher for luxury and technology.
It is cleverly engineered and well-designed, fully loaded with cutting-edge tech and features. The massive boot makes it practical, and with its off-road capability, you can go to the back of beyond just as easily as you can drive to your board meeting. Quite simply, no other luxury SUV is as versatile.
Accessing the cabin is a bit of an adventure, after selecting ‘Access’ mode to adjust the air suspension and get to drop a few inches. Clambering in and out was an inelegant affair, but once I hauled myself in, that slight inconvenience was a distant memory with the opulence and luxury surrounding me. In the extended wheelbase version, the back seat is truly fit for royalty. Seats with 24-way power adjustments ensure you are supremely comfortable. You can extend the leg rests with the touch of a button and feel like you are travelling first class. Another button folds down the armrest, and the cup holders also glide open with touch controls. Tables open up should you need to work, and the removable tablet in the armrest offers you all the controls. Massage seats pamper you while you watch your favourite shows via HDMI or firestick on the optional 11.4-inch touchscreens, or you drown out the world with the 35-speaker meridian sound system. Speakers in the headrests offer active noise cancellation to ensure you are always travelling in a super refined, calm cabin. A string of superlatives would fall short of describing the level of extravagance all around.
The long wheelbase version is massive at 5.2m, but the standard version is also bigger than before at 5m. The exterior's clean, smooth lines carry all the heritage but in a pure modern manner. The flush door handles pop out on approach. The slimmer LED lights look very futuristic, and the blackened pillars give the roof an interesting lift. Metallic strips on the front door offer some styling relief to the otherwise stark profile. The rear has cleverly engineered tail lights that look like part of the tailgate black surround, so you don't notice them until they light up. It's a Range Rover with many familiar elements, and it still looks new. Stately and strong is how I would describe it.
This extended wheelbase version also comes with a three-row, seven-seat option, which is a first for the flagship model, and that is a big bonus. While the third row has generous knee and headroom, you sit knees up. The boot has ample space for airport runs, and if you do decide to go on an excursion in the wilderness, you can open the split tailgate, pull up a backrest and get a nice picnic bench at the rear as well.
Behind the wheel, the ginormous dimensions of the Range Rover are apparent. Even though you have an excellent view of the road, it feels large, especially in traffic, but it astonishes with its agility. The rear axle steering makes the over 5m SUV feel smaller, and once you get used to where the corners of the car are, it's surprisingly easy to drive. The mirrors give you a real-time camera feed, so you have clear visibility of the rear, and 360-degree cameras add on.
It feels light on its feet, too, more so on open roads, and the 3.0 mild hybrid diesel doesn't let you think you are hauling 2.5 tonnes. The refined engine accelerates smartly, and you feel a strong tug of power. However, downshifts don't come quite as quickly as one would like, especially when you want to accelerate away from cruising speeds, so you need to flatten your foot to the floor for overtakes. But this car's calm and serene manner makes long-distance travel effortless. On bad roads, while you don't feel any sharp intrusions and are never jostled, there is still a granular quality to the ride that filters through to your seats because of the larger tyres. It is still a comfortable ride but the new Range Rover doesn't quite have the ride quality of the previous one.
While the Range Rover is about luxury, it doesn't ignore its heritage or true off-road DNA. With a variety of modes on the terrain response system, you can do a fair bit of off-roading with it. You can do it without fear with the multiple levels of ground clearance you can get. You can raise this to a massive 295 mm off the ground to clear almost any obstacle. With a range of variants, extended wheelbase and engine options, prices range between Rs.2.38 crore and Rs4.17 crore. But real luxury doesn't carry a price tag, and the Range Rover offers it up in ample measure.
Renuka Kirpalani is the editor of Autocar Show. Write to us at email@example.com