Changes to Range Rover en­hanc­ing sta­tus as an icon

Solihull News - - MOTORING NEWS - ENDA MULLEN enda. mullen@ reach­plc. com

AT­TACH­ING iconic sta­tus to a car might seem a lit­tle over the top but most ve­hi­cle en­thu­si­asts would agree there are quite a few au­to­mo­tive icons - and the Range Rover is most def­i­nitely one of them.

Land Rover can lay claim to giv­ing the world two truly ground- break­ing ve­hi­cles – the De­fender and the Range Rover.

The De­fender’s rugged and inim­itable char­ac­ter per­haps gives it some­thing of an edge but in many ways the Range Rover is no less spe­cial.

De­signer Spen King’s idea to come up with a 4x4 ve­hi­cle that was also lux­u­ri­ous and stylish was a mas­ter­stroke and that’s why more than 40 years later the Range Rover is still with us.

A lit­tle like the fa­mous TV timelord Dr Who ( who’s been around even longer), it’s gone through a few changes since then and if any­thing has got more lux­u­ri­ous and stylish as time has passed.

Think of the cur­rent ver­sion as a sump­tu­ous limou­sine with added ride height – which can also go pretty much any­where off- road should the oc­ca­sion de­mand it – rather than an ev­ery­day util­i­tar­ian- plus mo­tor for the coun­try set.

When one looks at the pric­etag it does seem slightly in­con­gru­ous to take a ve­hi­cle cost­ing in ex­cess of £ 100,000 off- road but quite a few peo­ple do.

Per­son­ally I would be wor­ry­ing far too much about ev­ery rut, pro­trud­ing rock, rogue bram­ble and over­hang­ing branch to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence.

On a se­ri­ous note though, a Range Rover is ev­ery bit as ca­pa­ble as any mem­ber of the Land Rover fam­ily when it comes to proper off- road­ing, the only lim­it­ing fac­tor be­ing its sheer size.

From the out­side the Range Rover is char­ac­terised by that fa­mil­iar chunky styling which hints at its her­itage but is some­how modern too.

There’s no es­cap­ing its bulk and pres­ence but given that, it’s sur­pris­ing how ma­noeu­vrable it is on the road.

You quickly ac­cli­ma­tise to its di­men­sions and it feels ag­ile and ( don’t laugh) light.

The truth is the cur­rent model is way lighter than those cars which came be­fore, thanks to ex­ten­sive use of alu­minium.

Some of the ease of driv­ing char­ac­ter comes through on­board tech­nol­ogy, par­tic­u­larly the Sur­round Cam­era Sys­tem cam­eras which help en­sure you don’t get too close to ob­sta­cles or haz­ards.

Upon en­ter­ing the ve­hi­cle you can’t help but be struck by its op­u­lence.

Okay, this was a fairly high­spec Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy model but even an en­try- level Vogue of­fers a level of lux­ury that many can only dream of.

Amidst the op­u­lence the most strik­ing fea­ture in the lat­est model is the Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem first rolled out on the Ve­lar.

From an er­gonomic per­spec­tive it is spot on and also in­tu­itive and easy to use.

In this Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy V8 diesel, wood and leather are com­bined com­bine to great ef­fect and the seats have a won­der­fully sculpted kind feel.

There were days when I en­joyed the daily com­mute so much I didn’t want to get out when I got home.

En­gine- wise there’s a choice of two diesels, two petrols and a petrol- elec­tric hy­brid.

There are V6 and V8 diesels, a petrol V6, a su­per­charged petrol V8 and the hy­brid has a 2.0- litre petrol unit un­der the bon­net.

The 4.4- litre V8 diesel is a sub­limely smooth and re­fined unit which pow­ers the ve­hi­cle along nicely and of­fers rel­a­tively de­cent econ­omy.

It of­fers a turn of pace that is pleas­ing but get car­ried away on the cor­ners and you start to re­alise just what a big ve­hi­cle the Range Rover is – there’s only so much en­gi­neer­ing can do to counter pitch and roll,

How­ever, its han­dling lim­i­ta­tions are more than com­pen­sated for by ride qual­ity that’s about as good as it gets.

In large part this is down to the ex­cel­lent cross- linked elec­tronic air sus­pen­sion, which comes as stan­dard on all Range Rovers.

The list of fea­tures span­ning crea­ture com­fort to safety is a won­der­fully lengthy one.

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