RANGE ROVER FAMILY

Evo India - - CONTENTS - WORDS by AFZAL RAWUTHER | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY by RO­HIT G MANE LO­CA­TION COUR­TESY ATMANTAN LUX­URY WELL­NESS RE­SORT

The en­tire Range Rover lineup on a lux­ury es­capade in the hills

We spend a week­end with the en­tire Range Rover

lineup at a lux­ury well­ness re­treat and gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the lit­tle things that make Range Rovers spe­cial

HOW DO YOU WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND A story that’s older than you are? A story so sig­nif­i­cant, that even fifty years later, it gets re­told at even the mere men­tion of the word SUV. You can start by tak­ing the help of some num­bers. The hun­dreds of thou­sands of Range Rovers sold for in­stance, or the fact that the SUV in ques­tion is now in its fourth gen­er­a­tion. But they can only take you that far.

The brief, half a cen­tury ago, was sim­ple – build an SUV with the 4x4 ca­pa­bil­ity of the Land Rover but with com­fort, prac­ti­cal­ity and even the de­meanour to suit an English lord. Voila, the Range Rover was born. It was 1969. Man had landed on the moon. Over the years the Rangie would gain a cult fol­low­ing and be­come an icon. But even be­fore pi­o­neer­ing trav­ellers and ad­ven­tur­ers would put it to the test, one thing was clear – it was spec­tac­u­lar to look at. The fact was un­der­lined in the early 1970s when the Musée du Lou­vre in Paris put a Range Rover on ex­hi­bi­tion as an ‘ex­em­plary work of in­dus­trial de­sign’.

Circa 2019, that Range Rover has spawned four dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions – Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Evoque and most re­cently, the Ve­lar. Each one of these SUVs share the same DNA but are markedly dif­fer­ent. The smallest

EVEN BE­FORE PI­O­NEER­ING TRAV­ELLERS AND AD­VEN­TUR­ERS PUT IT TO THE TEST, ONE THING WAS CLEAR – THE RANGIE WAS SPEC­TAC­U­LAR TO

LOOK AT

of the lot, the Evoque, es­tab­lished the cur­rent de­sign lan­guage that has worked spec­tac­u­larly and is due for an up­date early next year. The lat­est, the Ve­lar, is ab­so­lutely stun­ning; a de­sign icon; a fu­tur­is­tic SUV that makes heads snap wherever it goes. The Sport, mean­while, bor­rows its genes from the big daddy Range Rover and, like its name sug­gests, is the sporty one of the brethren. And then there is the Range Rover that needs no in­tro­duc­tion – es­pe­cially in this long wheelbase ver­sion.

This is our first time with all four Range Rovers to­gether, and to bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate their DNA, we chalked out a week­end with the fab four. But wait, we didn’t want to do the usual off-road stuff with what are, ar­guably, the most ca­pa­ble SUVs on the planet. We al­ready know how im­mensely ca­pa­ble they are. This was go­ing to be a quiet week­end spent in four lux­u­ri­ous SUVs out­side the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city, por­ing over the lit­tle things that make life that much bet­ter. We ze­roed in on Atmantan, a lux­ury well­ness re­sort just out­side of Pune, nes­tled in the lush hills of the West­ern Ghats. Our plan? Take our new One Plus 7T Pro McLaren edi­tion phones and fire away at the four Range Rovers from close quar­ters and soak in the de­tails and not get a speck of mud on ei­ther of them. I know, it does sound strange but we’re go­ing off-script for a change.

To be truly mes­merised by a Range Rover, you don’t re­ally need to know any­thing about it; even about cars and

SUVs in gen­eral. The flush door han­dles on the Ve­lar, or the slid­ing foot­boards on any of the Ran­g­ies, or the time­less de­sign can be ap­pre­ci­ated by any­one. It screams class, her­itage, style, and money. Co­cooned by the hills on one side and the beau­ti­ful Mul­shi lake on the other, Atmantan en­cour­aged us to sim­ply park our cars, en­joy the stun­ning vis­tas and ogle at four in­cred­i­ble pieces of engi­neer­ing and de­sign. The time spent re­lax­ing and re­ju­ve­nat­ing our­selves at Atmantan prompted us to think, and think hard about the four SUVs that we had at our dis­posal.

Here were four of the big­gest state­ments in the world of SUVs. In fact, it was the Range Rover that can be cred­ited with in­vent­ing the term ‘lux­ury SUV’. The Ben­tay­gas and Cul­li­nans of the world are mere at­tempts to mimic what Range Rover has ex­celled at for decades. And even then, is there some­thing as op­u­lent, as ca­pa­ble while go­ing off-road? No mat­ter what their po­si­tion in Range Rover’s peck­ing or­der, out on the street they all draw eye­balls.

The Evoque in­tro­duced the world to the stylish com­pact SUV. The slop­ing roofline, rad­i­cal styling and the com­pact, al­most hatch­back-like pro­por­tions made it an in­stant hit. The slop­ing roofline meant that vis­i­bil­ity out of the back wasn’t the best but Land Rover had a high-tech so­lu­tion for that. Turn­ing the ro­tary dial to ‘R’ turns the Evoque’s rear view mir­ror into a dis­play for the rear cam­era. Land Rover’s com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing that the Evoque looked

the way it does en­sured that the en­gi­neers had to jump through sev­eral hoops just like this. Thank­fully, for ev­ery au­to­mo­tive en­thu­si­ast, they did so and in the process cre­ated one of the most de­sir­able small SUVs of the past decade.

The full-sized Range Rover is as ex­trav­a­gant as it can get. The sheer vast­ness of it sim­ply makes large SUVs look like midgets and on the drive to Atmantan from our base in Pune, we ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand what that means when you are in the driving seat. Pune’s fa­mously un­ruly traf­fic made a con­scious ef­fort to give way even on the nar­row, bro­ken stretches of road. The Range Rover’s un­par­al­leled ca­pa­bil­ity also meant that we didn’t re­alise we were driving over bro­ken patches of road. And not be­cause we au­to­mo­tive journos have devel­oped spines of steel af­ter hours spent driving off-road. It was be­cause the Range Rover sim­ply wafts over ev­ery­thing.

The Range Rover Sport, on the other hand, takes a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. A smaller form fac­tor and an em­pha­sis on agility while re­tain­ing all the off-road­ing chops of its fa­ther make it an SUV that finds it­self at home on the moun­tain twisties as much as it does off-road. And none of the lux­ury trap­pings that make it spe­cial are lost ei­ther. The throne-like seats, the padded door sills, all of them are re­tained to make you feel just as spe­cial and just as pam­pered. No won­der then, a few days spent with these beau­ties made us feel like roy­alty al­right, much to the cha­grin of ev­ery­one we met for the next few days.

And to the Ve­lar. An SUV so stun­ning to look at, it drew crowds even in the park­ing lot of a lux­ury re­sort. The smooth, sexy lines and wafer-thin head­lamps that catch your eye the first time you look at it never stopped im­press­ing even af­ter liv­ing with it for an ex­tended week­end – and I am pretty sure they won’t stop. On the in­side too, it is the most tech-heavy of the Range Rovers and frankly, the Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is the grand­est in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem on any car ever made. Pe­riod.

Over the week­end, the finer de­tails stuck out as in­cred­i­ble high­lights to what were al­ready the world’s finest SUVs. The sooth­ing am­bi­ence cre­ated by the top-shelf ma­te­ri­als used in the Range Rovers mir­rored the calm and tran­quil state of mind brought about by Atmantan’s fo­cus on our health and al­laround well be­ing. It was in such a mo­ment that we stum­bled on to some­thing. While a bunch of us thought how cool a name the Ve­lar is, the folks at Land Rover must have had a hearty laugh. The name Ve­lar was first coined by them more than fifty years ago. 40 pre-pro­duc­tion Range Rover ve­hi­cles were pro­duced and to avoid the me­dia glare, they were all reg­is­tered un­der the dummy name of the Ve­lar com­pany. Talk about things com­ing full cir­cle. ⌧

TO BE TRULY MES­MERISED BY A RANGE ROVER, YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW ANY­THING ABOUT IT; OR EVEN CARS OR

SUVS IN GEN­ERAL

Top: Be­hind the wheel, the size of the Range Rover is barely felt.

Top: The Range Rover Sport is quite the looker, no mat­ter what the an­gle.

Right: The Range Rover’s in­te­rior is an ex­trav­a­gant place to be in

Above: Our pho­tog­ra­pher mak­ing full use of the triple cam­eras of the OnePlus 7T McLaren Edi­tion. Read the full re­view on page 166

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