(Pocket-lint) - The Range Rover is Land Rover's flagship vehicle. Big and bold, this is a luxury SUV that's as well equipped for life on the road as it is for life off it.
It's the choice of royals, ministers and celebrities, revered the world over and a car to aspire to. In many ways, the Range Rover wants to be the pinnacle of the motoring world.
Now in its fifth generation, just what does the new Range Rover offer - and how it is delivered?
We've taken the latest model for a spin in order to find out.
In refining this flagship model, Range Rover has cemented its elevated status. There's improvement in every area of this latest guise, from the ride and handling through to the looks and the experience of just doing it the Range Rover way.
It's clear that a lot has gone into ensuring that it is supremely capable offroad: it's almost laughable what this car will do, and a shame that many owners will never get to use it.
However, there's also comfort, practicality and technological sophistication. Fusing luxury with prestige, you'll feel regal whether in the front seat or the back. The Range Rover truly feels a cut above.
Range Rover (2022)
- Supremely comfortable
- Outstanding offroad ability
- Subtle external design
- Technologically advanced
- No BEV until 2024
- Hugely expensive
Design and build
If you glance at the front of the new Range Rover - the L460 model - you might be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed. There's certainly a familiarity to the Rangy - a gently sloping roof and strong shoulder line sandwiching those glasshouse-style windows in the middle.
But there's also a simplicity in many areas, giving a sense of timeless elegance - and that's certainly true as you move around to the rear of the car, where the biggest changes have taken place. The lights are integrated into the black detailing, vanishing from view in daylight, but shining through when turned on.
That's the striking thing about the new Range Rover: through a process of refinement, the elegance has been boosted through simplicity. It's small details, like the flush door handles, that help this car stand out from those that came before.
There's no avoiding the vastness of the Range Rover; it is the literal king of the road, letting the driver look down on those around them. The visibility is great, too, and while that's aided by sensors and cameras for more tricky driving, the everyday driver is given a commanding vista.
There are long and short wheelbase options, with the long wheelbase allowing seven seats - a first for the Range Rover - and extending the luxury to even more passengers.
On top of this, there's a range of familiar trims. There's the Range Rover SE through HSE, as well as Autobiography and a First Edition - specced to encourage early sales of the new model - with an array of colours and finishes. Many of the options are stately and subtle, but there are options like Velocity Blue (satin) or Sanguinello Orange (gloss) that will really turn heads. The inclusion of satin, as opposed to gloss finishes, we think will please many.
Continuing the theme of not fixing what isn't broken, the interior of the Range Rover is an evolution, with the biggest change being the floating 13.1-inch Pivi Pro display in the centre. The physical controls for the climate control remain, but this isn't an interior that's littered with buttons.
The Terrain Response is a simple pop-up dial, with buttons for descent control and low range, and there's also a neat shifter beside it to put the car into drive. The Steering wheel is tidier, controls condensed, with most of what you'll be doing focused on the display.
Of course, much of what the Range Rover is about is luxury, and we barely need to say that it's finished to the highest standards. There are options for traditional leather - in a range of colours - or more environmentally friendly materials. Again, like the exterior colours, there are options to tempt you, and plenty you can choose to make the car your own.
There's no shortage of space, either. Whether in the front or the rear, you'll be cosseted in the powered reclining seats. There's no shortage of leg, knee, shoulder or headroom, no matter which seat you find yourself in.
If you're worried about getting in, then the car's adaptive suspension has you covered, lowering the car to allow easier access, and then being able to elevate itself to suit the type of driving you're doing.
There's hidden storage in the cabin, a glovebox opened by the push of a button, and even chilled, capacious storage under the centre armrest.
The centre console also houses the Qi charging pad for your phone, which can be placed in the tray and neatly hidden away while you're driving.
But the Range Rover was born to do more than just transport people, and the rear offers some 818 litres of load space, with the option of a powered retractable parcel shelf. It's a split tailgate, continuing a Range Rover tradition, with the top section opening up and the bottom section dropping down.
For those wanting to take their Range Rover to a show or festival of some sort, this makes an ideal seating area - and Land Rover even has options to turn this into a proper seating area with a backrest and cushions. You simply flip up the loadspace floor (a £650 option) and drop on your cushions. There's even a flattened area on the tailgate perfectly designed to put your champagne glass on, with the rear speakers able to pump out the tunes.
Whether you like it or not, it's hugely practical given the space and, importantly, it's hugely comfortable, too.
On the road
There is a range of engine options available - petrol, diesel, mild and plug-in hybrid - with a fully electric model coming in 2024. These will differ from region to region, and the model on review here is the D350, a 3-litre mild-hybrid diesel, and a mid-range engine for the range.
The most interesting at launch is likely to be the P440e or P510e, both plug-in hybrid, both of which offer up to 70 miles of electric range. Unfortunately, we haven't had the chance to experience these models.
All engines are mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which, from what we've experienced, is quiet and smooth to skip through changes, with manual shifters on the steering column also present for those who want them. On the whole, driving the new Range Rover is a quiet experience - deliberately so - with just that purr of the engine cutting through into the cabin when you put your foot down.
For this review model, that 350HP diesel delivers a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds, which is no slouch given that the Range Rover weighs 2.5 tonnes. The highest power comes from the P530, the V8 petrol.
There is some lag in the delivery of that power - the sort of thing you'll feel trying to leap off the line on a roundabout - and there's a good chance that the plug-in hybrid will be better in that regard, thanks to the electric motor, but that's something we'll have to test when we get behind the wheel of the PHEV.
With an advanced all-wheel drive system, the development of this new Range Rover was designed to give you not just on-road assurance in tricky conditions, but off-road, too. During our testing, we took it around Land Rover's testing tracks at Eastnor Castle and, even with road tyres, it remains incredibly capable in the rough stuff.
While many owners will only get as far as a damp field, we have been through mud ruts and on loose surfaces on varying slopes where the Range Rover feels comfortable and completely assured.
There's tech to help here - not just controlling the traction through the wheels - but, with external cameras, you can literally keep an eye on your wheels on the central display, allowing precise control of steering to avoid obstacles.
The Range Rover retains a wading depth of 900mm, and you're unlikely to use that unless you happen across a flood - and when you buy a Range Rover, you know you have a vehicle that has been designed to deal with whatever is thrown at it.
But the killer update here is rear-wheel steering. This reduces the turning circle for what is obviously a large car, and that's going to be popular with anyone who has tried parking a Range Rover in a smaller indoor car park - or just tried turning around in a London street.
A good example of how effective this rear-wheel steering is: on the offroad routes around Eastnor Castle, the lead Defender had to back up a little partway through a turn to make a sharp corner, but the Range Rovers following had no problem at all.
On the road, there's a sublime feeling of serenity. It's whisper-quiet, meaning you really don't get road noise coming into the cabin, while broken surfaces are competently dealt with, leaving everything tranquil inside. There's a feeling of effortlessness here, no matter what the driving conditions are.
The average from our test vehicle showed 34.7mpg in mixed driving (admittedly with a small portion off-road), against Land Rover's official figure of 36mpg. Those wanting better fuel economy will undoubtedly be more interested in the plug-in hybrid, which is approximately £6000 higher in price - but may well be cheaper to run longer-term, especially if you can charge it at home and use electric for short trips.
It is a little disappointing that there's no battery version at launch, but, with 2024 in its sights, this gives the Range Rover a bump in interest when we eventually hit that future launch window.
The interior tech
Pivi Pro isn't a new system - it's something that Jaguar and Land Rover have been offering for some time. However, the installation in the Range Rover is cleaner, with a larger central display than we've previously encountered.
It's paired with the digital driver display, which sticks to pretty conventional dials, while a heads-up display extends those details into the driver's line of sight. There's no AR going on here, so arguably it's not the most sophisticated out there, but it's easy to spot information.
The display also offers haptics, and this might initially catch you out, but requiring a positive press does cut down on phantom touches. Voice is also supported, with integrated Alexa meaning you can sign in and talk to Amazon's familiar voice assistant - including controlling anything you've previously set up at home, like your heating or lights.
Navigation around Pivi Pro is intuitive enough, with it essentially designed to feel like you're using a giant iPad, but it's graphically high quality and features precise text and details. That means great quality on things like the 360-degree cameras.
It also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, for those who prefer to use their phone to power things, but we found that Pivi Pro's systems worked well enough. The colour options were a little odd, though, using a bronze vehicle rather than the green we were driving, so there's potentially the chance to enhance things further.
Another piece of tech that will be welcomed is the digital rear view mirror. This uses a camera in one of the roof fins and avoids the problem of not being able to see out of the back when you have rear passengers' heads in the way - with the option to dip the mirror back to a reflective option to avoid dazzle.
The new Range Rover reasserts itself as the king of cars. It's supremely comfortable, subtly designed, capacious on the interior - but formidable offroad. Designed to keep you in control no matter what the conditions throw at you, it remains a first-class choice for those wanting a luxury SUV. The lack of a pure electric option at launch is an obvious downside, and it's inevitably expensive. However, with loads of options and no shortage of skills, it's sure to be high on the list for those who want the best.