The new Range Rover wins over Bentley on size, price, features, technology, quality of materials.
We’ve driven it in Napa Valley, California – here’s what you need to know.
Range Rover: Back to the top of the class
You’ve probably read all there is to know about the new Range Rover, but from that controlled pre-launch perspective where every piece of tech has been minutely analysed and disseminated. That matters not one jot when it comes to three very important factors; will it sell, how does it drive and how does it compare with the opposition? If you’ve already read the story intro above, you’ll already know the answer to the most important question of all.
Well, we’ll cut to the chase about the technicalities – the first time it’s used a BMW engine for almost 20 years, the fact it now has four-wheel steering and the longest-range PHEV model will go 60+ miles on electricity only. These are all interesting, but what you really want to know is whether it’s enough of an evolution over the L405 to survive the decade or so it’s going to remain in production. Not only survive, but remain desirable and relevant in a market sector now brimming with some very capable opposition.
How capable? Well, who’d have thought any Range Rover would count Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls-Royce among its rivals, as well as the usual suspects of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz? Indeed…
So, what’s it like to drive?
In short, it’s fantastic, an absolute home run. What Land Rover has managed to create with the Range Rover is a supremely quiet and engaging luxury car with enough off-road ability to satisfy the ‘hose-clean interior’ brigade who expect a fully-fledged RR to be a world-beating off-roader as well. Tough gig…
We’ll get to the latter point in a moment, but on the road, it’s magnificent. The first thing that strikes you is that the steering is quite light. But it has to be said that the four-wheel steering is a masterstroke. The magic that happens at the rear makes the car very manoeuvrable, allowing it to glide over twisting undulating roads with — ahem — grace and pace!
We tried several models. The long-wheelbase six-cylinder model in Dynamic mode is — in our view — the best. It comes complete with a terrific engine note, ample power; it feels lighter on its feet, and is more engaging to drive.
The BMW-powered V8 model is quite nice, but the Ingenium six feels lighter and more agile, and less intimidating for those who like to take their Range Rover into town. One potential snag – there was no mention made of the car’s self-driving features – and that’s because there are few. It’s a big miss here, as the Cadillac Escalade can already drive itself with Super Cruise. We were told at the launch that this is two years away.
And off-road? It beats all of its rivals here, as you’d expect for a Land Rover product. In essence, it’s incredibly capable off the beaten track. We tried it in the mountains and on dirt roads, and it shrugged them off with no issues. As you’d also expect, it also remains quiet and composed under duress. It’s not perfect, though. Sometimes, there are too many steps in configuring the suspension and powertrain for the terrain, but it all works extremely well. Land Rover should move to voice command for this.
What’s it like inside?
The seats are fantastic and are easily the best we’ve ever experienced in an SUV. Not only that, but the all-round vision is outstanding, leaving the driver with no blindspots. Spen King would be very pleased with that.
Not only that, but Spen would be more than happy with how it’s been put together inside. The build quality is the best yet from Jaguar Land Rover, and that’s good news for those patient customers who keep returning to the company’s products despite continuing travails. Everything is tight and well made, and more than capable of justifying the cost of the car.
It’s also worth adding that the third row of seats which is newly available in the Range Rover is going to be very popular in the USA. Unlike many seven-seater SUVs, which make a nod to the rear-seat passengers, there’s decent room back there.
Much leather and other high quality materials have been used inside and not much plastic – as you’d expect when the Bentley Bentayga sits on the same shopping lists.
Well, it’s a winner in our books. Not perfect, but massively charismatic, and more appealing than its closest rival, the Bentley Bentayga. Buyers seem to have already made up their mind though. Here’s the great news for JLR: the American order book stands at 11,000. It’s off to a massively good start.
It’s a shame that it didn’t launch with an electric version out of the blocks, as this is probably Jaguar Land Rover’s biggest miss in recent years – the company beat its rivals into the market with the Jaguar I-Pace, but the opposition has caught up and overtaken.
Want an EV Rangie? That’ll be 2023…
Remember the stillborn Range Rover Coupe from a few years ago? Part of it survived. The super long console in the four-seat version of the new RR is from that, or at least a newer iteration of that.