Lighter, faster, more economical and now available with seven seats for the first time, the new-generation Range Rover sets the benchmark for go-anywhere, luxury SUVs. On a first drive around the Cotswolds, I found the fifth-generation Range Rover to be comfortable, composed and possessing an all-conquering ability – even if you’ll be far more likely to see the 4×4 navigating the Knightsbridge school run than scrabbling up a mountainside.
An evolution rather than a revolution, the latest design boasts breathtaking modernity. It has a presence and formality that will excite existing owners – customers who urged Land Rover to ensure that the new version was ‘the same, but better’.
Unsurprisingly, that means prices have headed northward. The entry model costs just under £100,000. The most expensive SV version starts at a hefty £178,000. But while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may already have their new Range Rover, many frustrated buyers have been told they will have to wait almost a year to receive their cars due to a global shortage of semi-conductor chips.
I say it’s worth the wait. Despite weighing more than 2.5 tonnes, the new model feels more agile and balanced than any of its luxury SUV rivals. On a motorway, you float along in utter comfort. Equipped with power-assisted and plug-in hybrid technology, as well as petrol and diesel engines, some versions will offer an electric-only range of up to 62 miles. It means many owners will now be able to make their London commute on battery power alone, with CO2 emissions as low as 30 g/km.
A new, twin-turbo petrol model will be the flagship of the range, providing sensational performance with the raucous rumble of a V8 engine. The new Range Rover is available in four-, five- or seven-seat configurations, in standard or long-wheelbase form. Choose between SE, SV HSE and Autobiography versions. A ‘First Edition’ model will be available during the first year of production, with the first-ever all-electric version due in 2024.
Designer Gerry McGovern’s sleek and uncluttered design sits on a new, stiffer ‘MLA-Flex’ chassis, which underpins the car’s incredible off-road ability and on-road agility. Up to 50 per cent stiffer, it promises class-leading, off-road competence. Like the all-conquering Defender, the new Range Rover features a suite of technologies that will take this Land Rover to places that other SUVs fear to tread. All-wheel steering adds to manoeuvrability, while next-generation air suspension takes the rough out of off-road driving.
Sat inside, the cabin is pure Range Rover, just with improved technology and a more modern design. Central to the dashboard is a curved, 13.1-inch touchscreen display controlling the majority of driver functions. And it’s no standard screen either, with ‘haptic’ technology that anticipates movement before a finger even touches the monitor.
The front seating position has also been improved, with Land Rover’s Command Driving Position, aided by a lower dashboard fascia, improving forward visibility. The main instrument cluster appears as a stylish, semi-floating glass panel in front of me. In the rear, it’s first-class travel all the way, especially in the four-seat version that treats passengers to aircraft-style armchairs. There’s an array of charging sockets, with the option of multimedia screens, too.
The first-ever seven-seat version promises class-leading head and legroom for third-row occupants, while the Range Rover’s famous split-opening, two-piece tailgate has been improved with an ‘Event Suite’, offering bespoke leather cushions. Best of all, Land Rover has pulled out the stops to ensure the interior materials are as environmentally-friendly as possible.
A remixed wool-blend fabric called Kvadrat is a leather-free option. It’s super plush. Land Rover has also used Econyl yarns, which are produced using 40 per cent recycled industrial plastic, fabric offcuts and reclaimed ocean plastics. Of course, customers can still opt for leather. There’s a new aniline choice, which is softer, requires fewer treatments in production and features less artificial pigmentation.
Even the 12 paint options – including ‘Belgravia Green’ and ‘Charente Grey’ – have been created to minimise environmental impact, using new mixing technologies and raw materials. Designed, engineered and built in the UK, the new Range Rover may look similar to the outgoing model, but it’s a huge step forward for Land Rover. The company filed 125 patents for the latest design, stretching from everything from pioneering chassis technology to the latest in batteries.
The car is a design masterclass from McGovern, retaining all the best elements of the car branded the world’s ‘original SUV’, and adding a suite of technological additions that improve comfort and capability.
Form an orderly queue now.
THE STATS, based on the entry-level Range Rover SE
Loadspace: 1050 litres
Electric Range: 70 miles
Fuel Consumption: 36.7 mpg
Max Power: 300 hp
Max Speed: 135 mph
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
From £94,400 for the entry-level petrol SE, rising to £131,000 for the long wheelbase V8 edition, landrover.co.uk