Cars: The fifth element

26 Oct 2021 by BusinessTraveller
Land Rover

The latest generation of Range Rover has finally been unveiled and it’s bigger and better than ever along with electric power in all its forms.

The word ‘icon’ is easily used, but rather harder to earn. More than fifty years after its introduction, the Range Rover is certainly deserving of that accolade.

Along with the likes of the Porsche 911 and possibly the Mini or VW Golf, few cars have remained as true to their roots as this slice of British automotive heritage. From world leaders to royal families, few cars say ‘success’ more than a Range Rover.

It would be a brave person to bet against this new fifth generation of Range Rover continuing that success story. Land Rover proudly claims that the Range Rover has been often imitated but never matched and it’s difficult not to agree. This new version may have a bold new look – more of which in a moment – but it is also packed with more technology than ever before and will offer more choice than ever before.

With standard and long wheelbase models (the latter 200mm longer between the front and rear wheels), a seven-seat option for the first time, an all-new plug-in hybrid and a fully electric version already in the pipeline for 2024, this new Range Rover has seen Jaguar Land Rover file more patents than for any other model in its history. Make no mistake, reading down the long equipment list for the new Range Rover, there’s no danger of any customer feeling short-changed.

Range Rover rear

What those customers may feel however, is slightly puzzled, especially with the new Range Rover’s styling. The front is more evolution than revolution while there are several traditional Range Rover touches with the mock side vent chrome strips in the front doors and the small chrome accents on the rear wing where the old rear lights used to wrap round.

However, it’s the rear of the new Range Rover that may have the traditionalists frowning a little. The good news is that the split tailgate remains with an ‘event-seating’ option and clever small moulded holders for two champagne flutes in the interior moulding of the base. There is also additional lighting and speakers in the back controlled via an app when the event seating is in use.

The not-so-good news to some observers might be the rear end design, which is very uncluttered and smooth and features single vertical LED strips on each side for the rear lights almost exacerbating its size. It undoubtedly looks better in the metal than on paper, but it looks like a design for the US or Middle East markets rather than for more conservative European tastes.

Range Rover interior

Thankfully, things improve on the inside. As you would expect, there’s a new, higher grade of leather upholstery available as well as a ‘materiality’ option made from 30 per cent wool that also uses less solvents. There are also new wood veneers, with some very handsome brushed alloy and marquetry options on the SV versions to give a handmade furniture feel.

A floating landscape-style large infotainment screen dominates the main dashboard with the central transmission tunnel featuring some lovely, well-designed sliding panels. There is even a hidden tunnel between the cubbies to keep any charging cables out of sight that are plugged into the USB sockets.

Range Rover interior

As mentioned earlier, for the first time in the Range Rover, there will be the option of a third row of seats in the long-wheelbase version (introduced due to customer demand alongside the Sport which has featured seven seats for some time). This sixth and seventh set of seats, alongside the ‘event-seating’ on the fold-down tailgate, highlight the increase in flexibility of this latest generation Range Rover.

That goes for the engine choice too. A choice of six and eight-cylinder petrol engines are to be expected, as is a mild-hybrid turbo-diesel engine, but the real headline grabbing news are the two new plug-in hybrid models – both a notable step up from the outgoing model. With a 38kW battery alongside a 3.0-litre petrol engine, the new plug-in hybrid Range Rovers will produce 440bhp or 510bhp (badged as the P440e and P510e respectively) and be able to run on electric power up to 87mph.

Furthermore, they have an electric range of up to 62 miles (100km) and emissions of just 26g/km – that’s enough to put them into the 7 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket for company cars for 21/22. In testing so far, even the real-world electric mileage has been over 50 miles – enough to cover three-quarters of journeys undertaken by Range Rover owners according to Land Rover.

Range Rover

There are, however, two downsides to the new plug-in hybrids. The first is that while the first deliveries of the standard Range Rover take place from Spring 2022, deliveries of the plug-in hybrid models won’t be until mid-summer. The second is that due to weight restrictions, customers won’t be able to combine the plug-in hybrids with the long-wheelbase bodyshell.

Land Rover engineers are hoping that they might be able to resolve this issue with improving lightweight technologies in the future, but it’s an issue that may well affect the forthcoming fully-electric version too due in 2024. Land Rover hasn’t yet given any details for the fully-electric Range Rover, but expect a battery size of more than 100kW and a fully-charged range of at least 300-400 miles.

Prices for the new Range Rover will start from £94,400 for the standard D300 SE and rise to £137,800 for the supercharged P530 First Edition, while the figures for the plug-in hybrid have yet to be released. More details for the fully-electric version will be announced closer to its 2024 on-sale.

So, with more technology, more flexibility and more electrification than ever, who would bet against this fifth generation of Range Rover continuing that iconic status. Not us, that’s for sure.

Nat Barnes

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