There are a handful of luxurious and powerful SUVs out there but to my mind the likes of the Bentayga, Cayenne and Levante still play second fiddle to the mighty Range Rover. You don’t overtake an icon overnight and this segment leader even rivals the S-Class for grandeur and a sense of occasion. Imposing looks, an exquisite interior, powerful engines and unrivalled off-road ability gave it legendary status decades ago. This is a luxury vehicle that can do it all and now, adorned with a new Special Vehicle Operations Design Pack, the fourth generation’s road presence is at its peak.
The optional body kit — which can be fitted to any standard wheelbase Range Rover from 2013 — gives it extra visual clout.
The optional body kit — which can be fitted to any standard wheelbase Range Rover from 2013 — gives it extra visual clout. The pack introduces new, unique front and rear aprons which change the aesthetics and make for a far more aggressive look; at the front, an assortment of new vents creates a sportier look while around the back the new rear bumper accommodates four square exhaust exits. New L-shaped side vents are included alongside new side sills, taillight housings and a bespoke front grille while a range of Range Rover trim finish colours such as Atlas, Dark Atlas, Graphite Atlas and Gloss Black are available. This dealer fitted kit sure goes a long way in complementing the model’s peerless design and looks so good that whenever I now see one without it, it looks like it is missing something.
With the kit carefully designed as part of a cohesive unit, our tester looked dynamic and classy. The extra touch of flair sure made a huge difference as during my weekend spent with the Vogue SE, it was getting appreciative looks from all angles. However, the kit does more than just draw extra attention, it has some tangible performance benefits too such as a four per cent drag coefficient improvement.
As you all know, this latest version is equipped with a new aluminium monocoque that makes it over 400kg lighter than the previous generation, not to mention faster more efficient and better to drive. It doesn’t just steer with more fluidity but its body control is better too thanks to the standard air suspension and ‘active lean’ software. And it’s so smooth that it really does feel like you’re piloting a limousine. It isn’t a sportscar but it sure does encourage you to drive it like one. That supercharged V8 is a wonderfully creamy smooth yet potent unit and is ably assisted by the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Twist the rotary gear selector to Sport and the motor doesn’t become any less refined but the performance sure improves with sharper gear changes and a more responsive throttle. With 503bhp and 625Nm of torque at its disposal, the mighty 5.0-litre offers blistering performance. It can propel the Range Rover from 0-100kph in just 5.4 seconds. That’s incredible considering it weighs well over 2,000kg. Yes, the Porsche handles better and the Bentley has more go but as an overall package the Range Rover is better. Its on-road credentials are superb and it’s just as good off the beaten track. It’ll get to places that you wouldn’t have believed were possible and with the minimum of fuss too. With the Terrain Response II off-road software in auto, you can tackle the steepest of dunes and the most difficult of surfaces and although I never got to try it but Land Rover says it will wade through rivers up to 900mm without so much as breaking into a sweat.
To the untrained eye it looks like an evolution of the previous model and to be fair the styling is of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ school of thought (however the 22in split spoke with gloss black alloys on our tester looked a treat), but there are lots of changes in the cabin. These include a new 10.2in dual view touchscreen display powered by Land Rover’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system (featuring satellite navigation) standard electrically adjustable, heated, cooled, massaging, leather-covered seats, configurable ambient lighting, a full 12.3in TFT/LCD instrument cluster, and lots of safety systems such as park distance control with rear parking aid, surround camera system and driver and passenger airbags (side, seat-front, thorax, pelvis). Our Fuji White SUV came fitted with a host of options, the highlight being the sliding panoramic roof which bathed the semi aniline perforated leather cabin with natural light and making it feel even roomier. Speaking of room, the 909 litre boot grows to 2,030 with the second row folded over and it’s accessed by the traditional split tailgate which now gains gesture control. The optional Meridian surround sound audio system with no less than 19 speakers sounds brilliant too.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most impressive — and imposing — vehicles on the road. It’s hardly a surprise that it is the go-to model for buyers wanting luxury and go-anywhere capability and now with the availability of this new SVO body kit, it stands out even more than usual.