Before there was the Bentley Bentayga, the Rolls Royce Cullinan, the Lamborghini Urus, the Porsche Cayenne and Aston Martin’s DBX, there was the Range Rover, the pinnacle of 4×4 luxury.
It’s amazing how, in 50 years of evolution, when British Leyland introduced the Range Rover brand in 1970, the concept was that of a capable agricultural vehicle to get the job done in and around the farm. Today’s Range Rover, now in its fourth generation (codenamed L405) shares virtually nothing with its ancestor but for it’s amazing off-road ability.
Despite wearing massive 21-inch wheels and HT tires, independent self-levelling air suspension all-around and other fancy accoutrements more in line with a soft-roader, the Range Rover is still arguably the best 4×4 by far in the full-size luxury SUV segment.
First thing I did after picking up the Range was head over to my favorite empty lot filled with rocks, mud, grass and hidden holes to try out just how good it was off-road. Where many SUV’s and pick-ups gave me sweaty a bottom, the Range Rover simply breezed through the tight and tricky terrain.
Outside, you get the familiar 2-box design, with the bold radiator grill, and the powerful dynamic LED headlights which automatically brighten and lower in intensity depending on incoming traffic. The massive front fascia is bold but not in your face; confident but still subdued. You have the trademark side vents on the front doors and fenders finished in contrasting color to give a bit of contrast to the massive sides. Understated opulence continues inside: dark blue leather seats intertwine seamlessly with natural wood trim and cream-colored leather for the door sidings, steering wheel and upper half of the interior. It’s opulent but not gaudy, luxurious without being nouveau riche, classy but definitely not tacky. No wonder, growing up back in the 90’s, the really old, cultured and prominently (plus seriously mega) rich drove these Range Rovers.
Today’s Range Rover Vogue comes with the option of a TDV6 (CRDi turbo diesel V6 engine) outputting a respectable 256hp and crucially, a hefty 600 Newton-Meters of torque, driving all four wheels thanks to ZF’s 8HP 8-speed automatic transmission, plus a low-range transfer case. The real magic is in the electronics: Land Rover’s highly vaunted Terrain Response off-road assistance software, now in Version 2.0 is a real game-changer. It pre-sets the traction, stability control, ABS, and differential lock/s to the chosen surface (rock, sand, mud, snow, grass and pavement) to deliver the best grip and stability as much as possible.
At just over 5 meters long, 1.87 meters tall, 1.93 meters wide, with a ground clearance of 220mm, plus a maximum fording depth rated conservatively at 700mm, the Range is literally colossal. The long 2.923 meter wheelbase helps high-speed stability and also improves comfort, giving rear seat occupants acres of space to lounge at the back. And for the real off-road anoraks, you’ll be pleased to know that the Range had a very capable 25.5 degrees angle of approach, and 23.5 degrees departure angle. More importantly for well-heeled vacationers, you get a massive 900 liters of cargo space in the trunk, and a colossal 1952 liters with the 2nd row seats down.
A switch to an aluminum intensive monocoque chassis sheds 420kg versus conventional steel, but fully decked out, a typical Range Rover can still weigh in the region of a hefty 2,250kg. Maximum towing ability is pegged at 3,500kg, the size of a small sailboat. There are eight airbags to keep you safe, plus traction, stability control tied in with Terrain Response 2 with ABS-EBD brakes and emergency brake assist. Rollover mitigation software is also included, plus ISOFIX child seat anchors.
Out on the open road, progress is rapid, almost terrifyingly so. At 100km/h, it feels like you’re walking. The TDV6’s massive torque will easily see you well past the speed limit. By the time you notice how fast you’re travelling, it’s well into jail territory because it feels so effortless. On winding roads, the Range Rover has excellent body control, preventing excessive chassis roll, pitch, sway and yaw. Fellow Inquirer columnist Jason Ang saw me spearing past him and slow traffic going up Tagaytay with the Range Rover and he said the Range was unbelievably deft, graceful & confident, not to mention fast.
The brakes are equally phenomenal: firm, well-modulated and fade-free, they consistently bring the massive Range to a full stop with absolute confidence. It’s the other secret as to why the Range is such a capable vehicle and very enjoyable to hustle.
The Philippines is too small for the Range Rover. It needs a truly epic driving adventure: think end-to-end of Eurasia (Beijing to London), or a drive from the Port Barrow, Alaska which is the Northernmost part of the United States all the way to Tierra del Fuego in Chile, often called the ‘End of the World’. A drive across the African Continent would also be another candidate, as is a stroll on the Arabian Desert. The Range Rover was made for these life-changing events. It has that sense of occasion, the spirit of old world adventure now lost in the digital age.
A car enthusiast through and through, Botchi Santos believes that different people have different needs. He tries to find the best car for a specific audience, and spruces things up by delving into car culture, helping make the local car community vibrant and enjoyable for all. His passion for motoring is built around a belief that cars are among the top three life purchases.