(Pocket-lint) - A new Range Rover doesn’t come along every day. This is only the fourth full-size Range Rover ever -although don’t forget it’s no longer just a model though, but forms part of a range together with Evoque and Sport. The previous model lasted a full ten years, which made it practically prehistoric in car years. Yet it still looks good as it shuffles off stage left. So what of the new?
Well, it’s longer, lower and crucially, lighter. A lot lighter. Which should bring some long-overdue benefits in terms of fuel consumption - which has been historically chronic - and of course CO2 figures, which even rich people are apparently bothered about these days. Being lighter it should be better to drive, too.
But all that is yet to come, for now our first impressions are limited to how the Rangey looks, what it feels like to sit in and a partial look at what the tech’s like. And, for the most part, we rather like what we see.
The Range Rover instantly looks more modern with its more jewel-like details, bigger wheels and a tad more chrome bling. Yet it keeps its signatures of a floating roof, merging grille-and-lamps, clamshell bonnet and split tailgate. Design-wise, it feels familiar, yet looks rather different in the metal. That’s because its proportions have grown and the cabin has more "lean back" to it than the upright car it replaces. Whether that’s a good thing or not is tricky to call. It looks more modern, it still looks like a Range Rover, but in our view some of the "regal" qualities of the old Range Rover have been lost.
Not to fret though, because inside is distractingly impressive. You still climb "up", into the Range Rover, yet you sit lower – there’s less of a sense of sitting outboard in the car, with the beltline so low, relative to your hips. You feel more ensconced. It still feels big, yet you’re unlikey to be overwhelmed because the cabin design has been cleaned up with a 50 per cent reduction in switchgear. Most of the secondary controls are now driven through a central touchscreen which is verging on tablet-sized. It’s flanked by a series of backlit shortcut keys, which will reduce many of our traditional touchscreen moans. And just three major climate dials can take care of the entire cabin’s ventilation options, including switching on the heated seats - which we like, as they’re really lovely to use and hold.
The centre screen though, plays second fiddle to an engorged digital instrument cluster. This, we couldn't see in action beyond the start-up display. But that was enough to notice a massive up-tick in resolution relative to the Jag XJ, which features a similar design. On the centre tunnel, there’s a much cleaner set of dials for the gearbox and four-wheel drive settings, which theatrically rise up when the car starts and sit flush when the car’s stopped – adding to the sense of this being a very clean, spare, yet modern design. The really clever bit though, is that it all feels special - it feels like an event - and like you’re genuinely in something worth a hundred grand and that’s got a real whiff of class.
And it gets even better in the back, where the longer wheelbase - and greater overall length of the Range Rover generally - liberates loads more legroom. For the first time you’ll be able to choose between a three-seat rear bench, or two plush captain's chairs which recline like business-class airline seats and are separated by a thick centre console. Display screens resided in the headrests backs of all the Range Rovers on the Land Rover’s stand in Paris, but sadly weren’t operational. But given the massiveness of the Range Rover’s front seats, these manage to be bigger screens than you might expect. Kids and business men alike are in for a real treat.
We’ll get more details - and our first drive - of the new Range Rover come the winter. Expect prices to rise from their current £70k start point and the range of personalisation options, colours and accessories to make it easy to tip your Range Rover well beyond £100k in price.
Even at that price, we can see it selling well. China and the US particularly are likely to be keen on the extra size and space. It’s just a pity that in its home market it’s now a bit big for the average car parking space. People won’t care – because the Range Rover’s still got class in bags, is still the king of 4x4 and will doubtless make a brilliant all-round vehicle. In the next three years of its life, this car will face some new rivals - such as Bentley’s production EXP 9F and Lamborghini’s Urus. But you’ll have to really want to own that particular brand and everything that goes with it, to overlook the Range Rover. The best 4x4xfar? Don’t bet against it.