Blog : Why the Range Rover makes me proud to be British

Keith Adams

Range Rover Autobiography (1)

It seems ages since the latest generation L405 Range Rover was launched – and yet, it’s only now that I’ve finally driven one. Four years on from its triumphant launch, and now a relatively common sight on UK roads, it’s great to be able to put some perspective on what for many of us could well be the best all-rounder in the world.

After a week behind the wheel of the Range Rover Autobiography, I reckon this lofty off-roader really does have a legitimate claim at this title – and, whatever your views, the fact we build a car capable of evoking these feelings, makes me very proud to be British. Funnily enough, when I stated this very fact on social media, one Smart Alec replied along the lines that, ‘Don’t you mean to say you’re a member of the proud Indian Empire?’

Maybe, but hey – given that Tata backed JLR so resoundingly, that Indian connection is very positive indeed. And all those British Engineers, Designers and others in the cast of thousands responsible for the company’s success mean this is as British as British can be. But I digress. Range Rover the best car in the world? Really?

Yeah, I know that’s a lofty statement. Not least because you don’t even need to look overseas for cars that have an equally legitimate claim to be the best. Consider the Rolls-Royce Phantom or Ghost, or perhaps the Bentley Mulsanne as astonishing luxury saloons, or the McLaren P1 as the most capable supercar money can buy, and you’ll see that us Brits build many, many superlative cars. And that makes me incredibly proud.

So why should the relatively humble Range Rover eclipse these cars at being brilliant?

Range Rover Autobiography (2)
Rear-seat room is almost limousine-like. A good job, considering many drivers might consider a Range Rover instead of a conventional limo…

Why, indeed?

I’ll not go too deeply into the whys and wherefores of the L405 Range Rover. You’ve read the reviews, and will know how good it is already. Needless to say that you’ll feel special the moment you climb aboard. And if you’re not a fan of SUVs or off-roaders in general,  you’ll throw your preconceptions out of the window from the off. The lofty driving position affords you a great view over all you survey, and the seats are supremely comfortable.

The interior design is a triumph of good taste and elegance, and all of the materials used are a tactile delight. The leather is soft, the wood’s finish is lustrous and the controls are a delight to use. The kit count is seriously impressive, with essential toys that includes a head-up display for the instrumentation, active LED headlights, radar guided cruise control, and – my favourite – a heated steering wheel. Yeah, I know.

However, forgetting all that for the moment, where the Range Rover truly scores in how it makes you feel special. That wonderful view out is something you’ll never get from any other luxury car, no matter what the price, and the interior design – how it looks and feels – is classy as well as functional. The low scuttle for great visibility and super-logical control layout make it child’s play to drive in the city as well as out in the country.

Range Rover Autobiography (3)
Fully digital instrumentation takes a little getting used to but, once you have, going back to old school analogue dials is a bit of a drag…

What, then, really makes the Range Rover the best car in the world for me? It has to be its all-round usability. Consider a luxury saloon – most are the size of the USS Nimitz, and need several parking bays to fit into. OK, so the Range Rover is also on the large side, but at least you can see out of it, and you’re not going to struggle to park it, given the plethora of cameras it offers you as soon as you’re down to walking speed. As for trying to do anything remotely practical in a McLaren P1? Forget it…

Then there’s its image and the one it conveys about you, the driver. Unlike a Rolls-Royce Ghost or Bentley Mulsanne, you’re unlikely to attract too much seething resentment from other drivers. Try exiting a side road on a busy morning in your average British city, and you will get let out. Not so with the big saloons… It’s not to say that there isn’t a little ostentatiousness about the current Range Rover but, in the right colour and trim, you’d be a long way from thinking of it as a ‘Chelsea Tractor’ or ‘Footballer’s car’.

It is, in essence, the best of British, and all the more wonderful for it. No other car offers its all-round blend of class, usability and desirability – and, although they keep on trying to match it, the Range Rover is still the best at what it does, by dint of how it does what it does. And because of these intangibles, I’d consider it the best. Best in the world? Yes – although, as this Autobiography version comes in at £110,000, it’s not the best car in the real world. That honour probably goes to a well-used Range Rover L322.

Either way, I’m glad we build it, and – yes – I’m proud that we do.

Range Rover Autobiography (5)

Keith Adams
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  1. I loved the Rangie when i tested it some months ago, and despite the gargantuan car that was in front of you, once inside it seems to do an Irish Tardis, it gets smaller, or it felt like it, in fact i felt more at ease driving this that the visually hampered Evoque, Don’t get me wrong, the Evoque is a great car, after all, it is the fastest selling LR Product ever, with 500,000 already sold, but the rear vision seriously hampered by the sloping window and head rests, you don’t get that in this.

    I do not expect that back in the late 60’s they ever thought that the Range Rover would be thee car to own across all classes, from the man in the street, to Royalty the world over, this is truly a car for all occasions, and one that has taken the world by the scruff of it’s neck and informed it that it is the best 4x4xFar.

  2. Great write-up Keith and I fully agree with your sentiments about the Range Rover and the fact we should be proud that we build it in this country.

    Why do I like it? Because it still does everything that the original Rover Rover did. In other words, transport five people with no fuss, can be driven off-road with genuine conviction about its abilities (usually it is the driver’s lack of skill that gets one stuck, not an engineering shortcoming of the car itself) and also used on the tarmac as an alternative to a more conventional saloon or estate. A car for all reasons, ultimately. The design and engineering has long changed since the launch of the original Range Rover back in 1970, but like a Volkswagen Golf that transition feels more evolutionary than an explicit revolution.

    One thing that continues to amaze me about the L405 generation model is how quiet it is. Even when you are walking by the roadside the sound of an L405 driving past is eerily quiet.

    A lot of people dislike the Range Rover but as I often say, it is not the fault of the vehicle itself, just the small minority of people who buy them and through their attitude and associated driving style (particularly in and around small towns and villages near Dartmoor) give a bad name to the rest of the owners who are actually no better or worse than your average driver behind the wheel of something else. Then again, there are other makes where you can share the same observations…

    The Range Rover is a fantastic vehicle and long may its success continue.

  3. P.S. Keith, I think that Range Rover needs a wash as it is sporting urban dust not bona fida rural dirt filled with mud and nutrients to grow potatoes in. Looks more like an urbanite with a spray tan.

  4. The ever classy Range Rover, one of the few – if not *the* – SUVs I’d actually consider.

    Not some “wannabe” school-run crossover, not some overly aggressive German “more maney than yuooo” status symbol, classier than a workaday Defender/L200/Land Cruiser in that it is as equally at home driving up to a stately home as pulling a trailer through a muddy field.

    Something bothers me though about the design.

    The tops of the lights, front and rear. Why do they need to intrude into the bodywork? Why couldn’t they be squared off?

    And the “gills” – when these were on the side of the engine bay they looked like they had function, cooling or for draining floodwater out. On the side of the doors they’re just an unneeded fussy styling detail.

    The original Rangie didn’t need fussy styling details. It didn’t even need styled, the prototype got it spot on so well.

  5. The Gills are not unneeded fussy styling detail, they were designed specifically to make the front doors look smaller than they actually are, and it works, as for the lights, well, if that’s all you can make comment about then they have indeed done a “spiffing” job, it is called styling, I could argue why did Austin make the Maxi rear lights like that rather than square, again, its styling, maybe the Maxi is not the wisest of choices, but at the end of the day, it is done to make the car stand out from the competition, I like the lights that way, i would rather have them like that than have huge great lumps like the Juke, which is just a lumpy jelly

    • Fair enough, agree the Juke is quite unappealing with the big round items and weird triangular lights on top of the bonnet.
      I guess the thing with a car as iconic as the Range Rover is that comparisons are always likely to be made with previous versions / the original, as is the case with MINI.
      Whereas the Maxi, and indeed Evoque etc. being clean sheet designs allow a lot more freedom in design.
      It must be a difficult job for the designers to keep such a shape as the RR familiar but modern, without being retro.
      (And for what it’s worth, I love the current XJ)
      They are minor niggles in an elegant big SUV.

  6. Will M – I agree it has become a bit glitzy on the outside and looks like it is designed for the market it is aimed at Footballers and Shekihs. Funny though as the interior is not – wonders why?

    The new Disco Sport is a rather handsome car, and if the reviews I have read are to go by a more realistic target for us non playing public.

    • Disco Sport interests me, it has a few Saab styling details that make me wonder if they’re chasing the old 9-5 estate market 🙂

  7. FWIW a Land Rover colleague (on P38a) once told me that they fiddled the instrumentation so it wouldn’t show fuel consumption below 9.9mpg.

    I understand the gills are going in the next facelift.

    Be interesting to see how the Bentley Bentayga (still can’t take that name seriously – what where they on when they let it get through?) takes the market for owners more interested in bling rather than proper 4×4 ability – I think Land Rover are in danger of otherwise losing its core offroad expertise/functionality.

  8. No mention of performance, or whether it’s a petrol or diesel model? Or is that the kind of thing that only the lower and middle classes worry about?

    Great car, love the colour, but can’t get my head around the £17k price differential between the Vogue and the Autobiography.

    Regarding the claim that the “best car in the real world… is a well-used L322”, what are these cars like as an ownership proposition? Are they as much of a horror show as the P38 once they get old and neglected? I’ve noticed that lots of journos run classic Rangies, but no-one admits to having a P38 or L322.

    • Hi there .
      Mine is probably a good example of “real world use” by a real world family.
      We have one of the last straight 6 BMW engined ones(an 05), had it for over 4 years now and simply cannot justify p’;&king money against the wall for anything else which we know in our hearts probably won’t improve on it.
      Reliability………. never let us down mechanically though best keep a set of jump leads in the boot as the electrical drain is immense in this car, It draws current for 15 mins or more after switching off whilst various computers do the ” night johnboy”routine to each other. This means the battery has a hard life and lasts about 3 years, leave something major on for 20 mins by mistake and when you come to restart computer says “voltage low ” nein started” and won’t play ball. Hence the jump leads.
      Hard winter starts up to minus 8c, never missed a beat.
      Engine is utterly bombproof in standard tune.
      Which brings us to the caveat emptor of buying an older one on a budget ( 5 to 9k), the gearbox
      This is an American box and only just up to the torque loads of the engine, also BMW in their mongness said this was an item that did not require servicing, ……….wrong
      If the oil and filter have been changed in it every couple of years great.
      If it’s been used for towing horse boxes the box won’t do 100000 without a rebuild ( 5k from land rover, 2 1/2 k from specialist non franchise)
      Chipping transforms the power to like a v8 AND makes them better on diesel, BUT similarily compromises gearbox life. So you want an unchipped one that hasn’t had a tow bar on or has recently had the gearbox done.
      Ours with oil changes has been no bother for 150k
      Only other things are an occasional rubber bush at mot time , last two breezed it with no faults.
      Pluses lakes to Taunton and back in a day on one tank (30 plus mpg on run) got out fresh as a daisy.
      If needs must happy as a pig in poo the top side of a ton all day and once late for a ferry in Germany 135 for a couple of hours with no complaints.
      The elecrickery and handling voodoo has defiantly kept me out of a couple of dykes backwards in snow and it has had to prove it can wade a meter of floodwater in an emergency hospital run that land rovers pr department would have sold their grandmothers to film.
      It transports a family of 5 with effortless elan and I wouldn’t swap it for Ruby’s.
      And as a ps. People let you out at junctions with a smile with it in Cumbria , a service not available to Q7 owners Pip pip Ian h

      • As a codicil I would add after 06 the v8 diesels box being a jag one is strong as an ox and fine for towing. The base model v6 engine (also found in the disc /disco sport) is a fragile horror which pergeot
        Inflicted on the world. My mechanic in Penrith permenantly has an ever increasing stack of them on a pallet waiting to go to scrap. Avoid like plague along with white leather interior (so Cheshire set)
        Ps to confound stereotypes I’m an impoverished truck driver.
        Pip pip Ian h

  9. Great car and I agree with most of what has been said but I think the previous model’s squarer front looked smarter. This one is quite fussy with layer upon layer of….stuff?! I suppose I’d be better off with a Disco.

    The Jag and Bentley offerings look a bit sleeker but I guess that is at the expense of practicality the RR offers.

    I really dislike tinted windows in these though.

    • My politics are out there, as is my taste in cars. If you’re saying that it’s wrong to be left of centre and still have nice things, we’ll have to disagree on that one. I like Champagne, too, are you going to hang me for that as well?

  10. I’m conflicted about the Range Rover. The latest model is indeed a shining example of British engineering. It’s fabulous too that, at long last, we’re producing cars that people want to buy. However, I do regard it as a ‘selfish’ choice of car when used predominantly on-road.

    The sheer size and weight of Range Rovers means that anyone in a smaller vehicle (that’s most of us, then) runs a much higher risk of death or serious injury in a collision with one of them. And with the surge in the popularity of Range Rovers, especially for use on the school run, that risk is increasing because there are many more of them around.

    I drive an MGF. If I were hit head-on by a Range Rover at over 40mph, I would quite possibly be killed while the Range Rover driver would probably walk away with only superficial injuries. Pedestrians would be similarly flattened.

    So Range Rovers are great so long as you’re sitting on the inside of them. But what about the rest of us?

  11. This would be the British Range Rover built by an Indian company owned, until recently IIRC, by a ex-Iranian bloke who is one of many in India who practices the old Persian Zoroastrian religion that was kicking around when Cyrus the Great was still in Pampers. Yup, it’s British alright.
    Although to be fair it looks nice.
    My dad and I had this discussion this morning, via the EU (why is it crap? Because every single British government has refused to match funds with the European Union for projects… While Roumania does and gets a 120 mile motorway, and Poland gets new chicken farms with abbatoir, restaurant and bungalow.., what did we get? Foot and Mouth (as did France, which was kept very quiet)). Nissan is not British, it has never been British, it will never be British – it is assembling cars IN Britain, that is all.
    We’ve sold anything that made even a smidgen of profit overseas, either to India, China, or some shell company owned by China – who promptly claim Britishness beyond the dreams of Chamberlain, and put the prices up 40%.
    The irony is if brexit wins and we leg it out of the EU like the hounds of hell are behind us (Merkel in black leather?), Nissan will drop Sunderland faster than the BBC with a pervy DJ, some bright spark will say let’s start a British car company, and Clarkson will instantly condemn it as BL III: The search for Sales, and people will instantly start buying MGs cos they be British dontchaknow.

    • You are correct in saying Nissan are not British but neither are they fully Japanese. They’re over 40% owned by Renault, who are of course French but are also partly Japanese- and German-owned themselves. And they’re run by a French-Lebanese-Brazilian. The waters are very muddied!

      If it makes people feel better on this site, BMW are 8% British-owned (and only 50% German).

    • Well none of that happened eh?
      Nissan still here, Honda shipped out to Turkey (still not in the EU yet).
      Rolls-Royce, Bentley, JLR still here and exporting British made, high value vehicles world wide. MINI – still here, Toyota – still here.
      Brexit-end of the world as we know it LOL

  12. PS: you forgot its one of the favourite steeds of your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer.. That’s something for Brixtonians to feel proud of.
    I also wonder how long it would take Tata to drop UK manufacturing if we ditched the EU – I wouldn’t be surprised if they were about 10 seconds after Nissan up the gangplank.
    Maybe P&O could commission a new Dover to Calais ferry.. “The Spirit of Total Buggeration”
    I don’t by any stretch of the imagination support being in the EU but alot of that is because of the intent of the successive British governments to get as little out of it as possible while using it as a whining point at every election. Now it seems almost academic whether we’re in or not.

  13. Indeed Jemma – The most terrifying thing of all about a possible Brexit is being governed only by a UK Self interested bugger everyone else Westminster Government. Elected or not I trust any Eurocrat far more than any professional politician from this country

  14. Nissan, as well as making more cars in the UK than all of Italy, also having a design studio in London and an engineering centre in Bedfordshire.

  15. “Craig says:

    2 March 2016 at 1:12 pm

    The sheer size and weight of Range Rovers means that anyone in a smaller vehicle (that’s most of us, then) runs a much higher risk of death or serious injury in a collision with one of them.”

    The Range Rover being made out of Aluminium has less weight than most other large SUV or other large cars.

    You should also consider that the excellent handling and safety systems also mean it is less likely to crash into you than other lessor vehicles in its class.

  16. I have fairly extensive knowledge of LR products involved in accidents and it is rare they are involved in the incidents mentioned in this thread, a Range Rover would do harm in the way a van, bus, pick-up or truck would but I guess the drivers of those would not be considered selfish for using such a large amount of road in a heavy vehicle. Most RR of this type will almost certainly be driven by people taking more care simply because when you drive these cars you feel more peaceful.

    Any incident at over 40mph is going to be bad news.

    Range Rover is just simply the most complete car you could aspire to own, and it really is British.

    I don’t own one or work for JLR but if my numbers came up, I’d be ordering one in seconds

  17. I agree with Craig . Even if it is made of aluminium it is useless to pretend that this is anything other than a very, very heavy motor car . The lightest weighs 2.25 tonnes unladen , and the hybrids or V8s are very close to 2.5 tonnes . It is also unrealistic to be an apologist for the ridiculously large and heavy Large Goods Vehicles which now infest our roads, and are involved in a horrifying proportion of moving vehicle fatal accidents, as well as causing untold damage to properties adjacent to roads simply because of the dynamics of their weight and speed

  18. Thanks for the review Keith.

    I’ve just ordered one, a green one, which will be going into build in mid September. This one will have to last me a very long time! Here’s hoping it’s as good as I hear 🙂

  19. And after being registered on 30/9/17 and currently just coming up to 26 months and 71,000 miles old, it’s been as good as I could have hoped for.
    I’ll keep it for at least another 2 years and if all is still going well at that time, I’ll keep it for up to another 6-8 years and probably up to around 350 – 400,000 miles.

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