The Range Rover
The Range Rover is probably the only other car that affords the same sense of supremacy, but it’s a drastically different offering compared to the G-Wagen’s ladder frame and solid axle chassis. It is a radical departure from its own predecessors. Land Rover was able to shed hundreds of kilograms from its fourth-generation Range Rover, which is the world’s first SUV with an all-aluminium unibody. Apart from better fuel economy, a lighter car should mean sharper handling and a quicker 0-100kph sprint.
Hopping into the new Rangey, one can absolutely feel the difference. It isn’t just lighter, but stiffer too, which adds to the joy of blasting the boxy icon around any surface. And when it’s not dispatching challenging terrain, it’s dispatching those too important to travel by regular means, at a swanky part of town. No wonder the Middle East loves the Range Rover and has adopted it as its own. The three things you see when you step off the plane in the region are sun, sand and white Range Rovers.
Although not to the extent of the G-Wagen, the Range Rover has also retained all the elements that made it a legend; the commanding driving position, squared-off front corners, clamshell bonnet and the fetching side gills. However, Gerry McGovern – design director and chief creative officer – obviously didn’t sharpen his pencil when he went to work on redesigning it because instead of the hard edges we’ve grown to love, the new model is a touch softer. It doesn’t quite have the same impact as the previous model or the Merc; this looks a lot gentler.
But it’s still a beast – of that there is no doubt. Push the start button and the largely unchanged supercharged 5.0-litre V8 wakes with a menacing growl. Floor the throttle and the reaction is incredible; the big Rangey pulls off the line with sheer violence, its nose points up at the sky, the rear hunkers down and 5.4 seconds later, you’re doing 100kph. It has torque to burn, or more specifically, 625Nm and from as low down as 2,500rpm. Keep your foot buried in the plush carpet and you’ll hit a metaphorical 225kph wall.
The engine is shared with Jaguar, which explains why it explodes down the road like a sports saloon while the eight-speed automatic shifts as smooth as silk. Nope, it won’t carve