There are many ways to look at a Range Rover. It is a big all wheel drive SUV that truly divides opinion. Those who have experienced driving the flagship JLR product over the years recognise that it is an undeniably luxurious, capable car but some want to throw pitch forks at the 5 metre long beast. There is a new version on sale and we’ve been testing it.
The Range Rover has a serious reputation as a vehicle that can go almost anywhere, I’ve literally driven off road, down a steep bank in to a valley, traversed a river you’d need to swim across and climbed up the other side up a steep hill that climbers would need ropes and back on to a paved road again – in cosseted comfort! Others see the range topping model from Land Rover as the devil incarnate and would happily burn owners at the stake for daring to have such an over-engineered, over-sized monster in the urban environment – a vehicle that they see as a poster boy for all planet killing SUVs. Yes the Range Rover is a large machine but the version we’re testing can run in zero emissions mode as an EV for up to 100km from a full charge of its plug in battery – enough to cover the boarding school run. We’re testing the latest generation of what many jokingly call the ‘full fat’ Range Rover and it has excellent emissions credentials. The 3 litre petrol PHEV produces 440hp and our car is in HSE trim. The starting price of €152,250 but with a few extras it weighs in at €162K.
Styling revisions sees clever flush doorhandles that pop out, hidden lighting and a few bits of trim that seem to serve no engineering purpose. The exterior is handsome in a blocky way and colour choice sensitive. Our test car had technically wonderful black paint but I’d prefer a more subtle colour. Does size matter? At a shade over 5 metres long the Range Rover is a similar length to most double cab pick ups and large estate cars. Urban users will find parking spaces quite cosy. Range Rover isn’t alone in this regard as cars have been gaining in girth over the years while parking spaces haven’t. General manoeuvring in close confines can be a little tricky – but thankfully Range Rover’s absolutely supreme driving position helps the driver position the car where they want it – there are also comprehensive parking cameras to assist the driver.
The ride comfort from our air suspension has a default soft setting that is very cushioned. This can make the car feel a little wallowy at times but you can select a number of driving modes and dynamic stiffens things up a bit with less pitching a yaw. Dynamic drivers should look at the full fat’s sibling the new Range Rover Sport that is quite excellent overall (see our review). As we’re on air suspension there is the usual ability to select the vehicles ride height from ‘access’ its lowest stance for relative ease of entry and exit to Off Road 2 or as I call it monster truck height. The normal setting is a perfect height for general use, while the two taller off road settings serve their purpose on rough terrain with the highest altitude almost in nose bleed territory!
The cabin seats five in supreme comfort, and the rear seats are individually adjustable too and ventilated. Connectivity is good and there is all the usual tech you’d expect. There is a good sized boot with the much-loved Range Rover split tailgate. The cargo area is not as vast as you’d think but a couple of side scoops will allow wider object sit in sideways – rock stars note (it will take a bass guitar case at a squeeze sideways – not lengthways). The Range Rover remains a prime example of conspicuous consumption and for many buyers that is the point. Our test car with optional ‘Ligurian Black’ gloss paint (€6,045) and a few other bits was by no means the dearest you can buy at €161,975 and is clearly an indulgent purchase as there a re many cheaper 4X4s that can tow a twin horse box in relative comfort but thankfully with the PHEV’s EV ability its emissions are relatively low and cannot be compared to older Range Rovers. That said owners will still have to explain at dinner parties to Tesla fanatics in particular the Range Rover PHEV’s ‘EV’ ability and that it can be a green machine.
The new Range Rover PHEV is massively capable, extremely comfortable and thoroughly indulgent. There are short and long wheelbase versions (SWB/LWB) and no end to the amount you can spend on options and customisation – that matters to some people. Does anyone really need a Range Rover? Obviously not, but it is okay to want a Range Rover and we have no problem with that – bar the fact that the new Range Rover Sport is cheaper, and for me, a more entertaining car and almost as luxurious.