Land Rover today reveals its new flagship model, a V8-powered all-wheel-drive luxury utility vehicle that’s smart enough to drive to the opera and capable enough to scale a mountain. Yes, it could be 1970 all over again, but it is 2021 and that means it’s the debut of the fifth-generation Range Rover.
Full details of the all‑new Range Rover
The point of that preamble? To show there is plenty that’s familiar with this all-new Range Rover, not least that iconic shape now finessed with what Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern sums up as “breathtaking modernity”.
There are, however, plenty of new tricks up this Range Rover’s sleeve, more in fact than ever before. There needs to be if it is to prove that the king of the luxury SUV mountain for a highly connected electric age is born and raised in Solihull.
After 51 years, this is the first Range Rover to have a seven-seat variant. It is the first with four-wheel steering – as a result its turning circle is the same as a hatchback’s – and the first with self-opening and closing doors. It is the first Range Rover on 23-inch wheels as standard and the first Land Rover ever to have five-link rear suspension.
This model marks the debut of both clever suspension that reads the road ahead for a smoother ride and a 48-volt electronic roll control system to take the body sway out of fast cornering.
It is the first Range Rover with, not just a drop-down tailgate, but “tailgate event seating”, an attempt to retake the event seating high ground from the Rolls-Royce Cullinan (think seat backrests, dimmable spotlights and luxury soft furnishings for those al fresco moments). And it is the first Range Rover to have a passenger already on board, embedded into the electrical architecture: Alexa. You will be able to summon her with orders such as “Alexa, let’s off-road!”, or “Alexa, take me to Buckingham Palace.”
More significant, and a very neat trick for our ULEZ times, is an ability to travel around 50 miles just on electric power. That’s the headline of the new “extended range” plug-in hybrid model. But the biggest trick comes in 2024 when an all battery-electric Range Rover joins the line-up.
Meantime we have… yes, a good old V8 is still available. The Range Rover began life with a V8 in 1970 and it will be bowing out of the petrol era with a V8 – thanks to BMW. So out goes JLR’s supercharged 5.0-litre and in comes the twin-turbo 4,395cc engine familiar from a host of top-notch Bimmers, many of them with an M in their name.
In the Range Rover the V8 is said to be 17 per cent more efficient than the previous model. We’d buy it more for its stirring sound, 530PS (395kW), 750Nm (555lb ft) and 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds.
Far more buyers will undoubtedly be tempted by the new six-cylinder plug-in hybrid (PHEV) which comes in 440PS (328kW) P440e form or as the P510e with 510PS (380kW). The P510e virtually rivals the V8 for power but it’s likely to weigh more than the V8’s 2.7 tonnes, so its 0-62mph comes in at 5.6 seconds.
More significant, it records CO2 emissions below 30g/km and, thanks to a sizeable 38kWh lithium-ion battery, comes with a pure-electric driving range of up to 62 miles officially, or around 50 “real world” miles according to Land Rover. The typical Range Rover owner should find that is enough to complete three-quarters of all their journeys. The 141PS (105kW) electric motor integrated with the transmission can take the luxury behemoth to a top speed of 87mph.
Also in the range for the UK, for the next two years at least, are mild hybrid versions of both six-cylinder Ingenium petrol (P400) and diesel (D300 and D350) and it is these that will power the entry models, which start from £94,400 in regular wheelbase form.
Opt for a LWB version (200mm longer) and, for the first time, you have the option of seven seats ranged across three rows. It’s made possible by what underpins all new Range Rovers: the MLA-Flex architecture. This is not only stiffer (by up to 50 per cent) but is already 75mm better endowed in wheelbase than the outgoing model.
That frees up more rear-seat kneeroom (up 44mm) and allows for a variety of seating formats in the LWB versions. The ultimate indulgence is the four-seat luxury package with everything the busy executive needs including reclining rear seats with heated calf rests and deployable work stations/drinks consoles.
More useful for many will be the seven-seat LWB variant. The seats are arranged stadium style, the third row 41mm higher than the front seats so everyone gets a view forward. Even with seven on board, there’s still 312 litres of boot space, enough for a pushchair or set of golf clubs. Rearrange the furniture for max load space and you will have 2,601 litres to fill. Incidentally, choose the plug-in model and boot space is unaffected.
There’s a two-piece tailgate of course, the lower half again providing that essential perch for picnics and muddy-welly removal. The posh “event seating” is not standard on all models.
A touch of the retractable handles is enough to open the new power-assisted doors. They can also be operated from the key fob, dashboard touchscreen or switches by the grab handles, and no they won’t work if your toddler’s hand gets in the way. A neat touch is that the driver can close his or her door by just resting a foot on brake pedal.
At first sight the cabin appears just as precise and restrained as the exterior. There’s a larger central touchscreen (13.1-inch) which now responds to touch with haptic feedback, but this is clearly no Mercedes-style screen fest. Behind the elegant simplicity (or should that be old-hat plainness?) lies all the right gubbins though: the latest Pivi Pro infotainment, Alexa of course, and more connectivity, wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspots and over-the-air updating than before.
The luxury side of the new Range Rover is low-key but classy, as you expect. Open-pore wood veneers and machined micro-metal inlays feature, while pay more for SV models and expect contrasting colourways, plated metals, ceramics and mosaic marquetry. Any version can be swathed in leather but you do not have to have it, and for the first time the top versions are available with sustainable non-leather Ultrafabrics including Kvadrat remix wool blend.
The cabin looks to be typically light and airy and promises to be the quietest and most allergen-free. A third-gen active noise cancelling system is fitted that plays an engine/tyre sound-cancelling signal though the car’s 35 speakers – including speakers built in to the head restraints – at five times the noise cancellation range of previous systems.
Barring unwanted whiffs and bugs is Land Rover’s latest air purification system. It uses nanotechnology to help prevent odours, viruses and bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2, from getting in to the cabin.
What of the oily bits? You can probably guess the bones of it: adjustable air-sprung suspension, eight-speed automatic gearbox with low-range, electronic locking rear diff and torque vectoring, smart all-wheel-drive with configurable Terrain Response – and enough natural ability to pull its 23-inch wheels up 45-degree slopes and through water up to 900mm deep. Just watch the LWB model’s ramp-over angle…
There are features here that no previous Range Rover has had though, and chief among them is rear-wheel steering. The electrically-operated rear axle provides up to seven degrees of steering angle, enough at low speeds to give this 5m-long car a turning circle of 11m (LWB: 11.5m). That will surely be just as useful in narrow London roads as it will when off-roading in the wilderness. At higher speeds the rear axle turns in phase with the front wheels to improve stability.
For fast road driving the big step forward promises to come in the form of a 48-volt electronic roll control system, said to be faster acting than the previous hydraulic set-up. The new model should also win plaudits for its ride, not just because of its new five-link rear axle and air springs but thanks to something called eHorizon Navigation. It is this which scans the road ahead for bumps and dips so the suspension can be primed to tackle them.
What then of the new design? In a sea of often equally capable SUV rivals, the renowned Range Rover look remains one thing competitors can’t emulate. No surprise then that the floating roof, clamshell bonnet, falling roofline, rising sill line and short front overhang continue to be the defining factors – along with a chamfered rear end that promises to be the new model’s most controversial angle. The horizontal black panel linking rear lights concealed behind black glass in slender vertical clusters is unlike any Range Rover before.
All this combines with unadorned surfaces, flush joints, hidden shutlines and smooth corners for a look that is as Gerry McGovern says: as if the car has been milled from a solid billet. The 23-inch wheels and a roofline 10mm lower than before must help. With a Cd of 0.30 it is also, says Land Rover, the world’s most aerodynamically efficient luxury SUV.
Welcome, then, the new Range Rover, what its maker says is the most refined, comfortable and agile Range Rover ever, as well as the greenest. It is available to order now, but good luck sticking to that £94,400 entry price.
Four, five or seven seats; SWB or LWB; V8, plug-in or mild hybrid; SE, HSE, Autobiography or First Edition models, and with at the very top the bespoke SV Signature Suite from Special Vehicle Operations – there are options here that will likely see that entry price doubled with carefree box-ticking. But then for 51 years the Range Rover has only ever gone in one direction: up.
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