The most important thing to remember when you are interviewing Al Paccino is that you are NOT face to face with the Godfather. Well, what I am trying to say is when reviewing an awe-wrapped icon like the Land Rover Range Rover, it is vital to think of it as an evolving car and not a timeless icon. So that one doesn’t get carried away. Well, being in Dubai and seeing at least a few dozen of them over the day does help, I should admit.
In the few months left to talk about the design upgrade in the 2012 Range Rover, a touch of black gloss to the head and tail lamps as well as the black front grille surround are the most obvious. However, when it comes to design, no car has perhaps remained as close to its original as the boxy, angular styling of the Rangie. Consider this: over 40 years on, the fourth iteration is yet to hit the market!
An unhindered surround view is afforded by the tall green house that celebrates freedom from blind spots. Even as the A pillar is positioned slightly forwards, it is thinner than those in most SUVs of this size! If people look down upon the world from inside a Range Rover, it isn’t perhaps conceit – just a habit of the height. So much so that when the Range stops, it stoops like a camel to let down its passengers.
Cabin and Controls
The Range Rover has one of the most premium looking leather seats in the segment that feels just as good, with heating and cooling options for each passenger.
The option-laden instrument panels and controls might take more than a day to learn and graduate in, but the investment is worth the while. New era gadgetry includes blind spot warning, front alert, and distance controlled cruise mode. Further, the Range Rover is equipped to guide you through parking lots as well as unfamiliar territory using 5 cameras and 5 modes of drive selection. The navigation setting was a bit painful when compared with other premium luxury cars like the BMW.
One of the most impressive convenience features unique to the Range Rover cabin is the 8” dual screen that lets the driver continue watching the map while the passenger views the television – note that the concept is a good conversation point when you entertain guests in your Range Rover but with not many free-to-air channels, you only get to watch camel racing for most part, in this region!
Refinement touches resounding notes in the Logic 7, 1200W Harmon Kardon High Dynamics audio system. But I found radio navigation through voice commands erratic in response nevertheless. Surprisingly for a cabin of all imaginable comforts, sunscreens were nowhere to be found.
These large SUVs are not supposed to be pushed around the bends – even if it is a Range Rover. But the ‘Range’ as it is fondly abbreviated in our region, puts up with quite a range of speeds and rough handling.
You might think twice before dragging almost half a million dirhams through the muck. But there are few SUVs priced to prompt you off-road that perform nearly as well as the Range Rover. Boosted with an off road height choice (comes back to normal beyond 25kmph speed), hill descent control, a multi-terrain switch, and TCS, the Range Rover remains true to its original purpose, unputdownable by the layers of luxury that fills its boxy body.
As for paved roads, it doesn’t take more than a mere nudge to throw off the comfort cloak and turn the Supercharged Range Rover into a mean rider with one of the most powerful engines under its hood. The LR-V8 producing 503 bhp with a free-flowing torque of 625Nm across 2500 to 5500 rpm, allowed me to touch 100kmph in 6.4 sec, which is just .2 seconds less than the company-claimed figure and almost as quick as the Camaro V8 I tested earlier this year. Only that the Range Rover is at least 50% heavier at 2590 kg!
You won’t find the naturally aspirated version lacking either. Smoothly churning out 370bhp with a torque of 510Nm at 3,500rpm, it is supposed to reach three-digit speeds in just 7.6 seconds.
The last thing on any Range Rover owner’s mind, anywhere in the world, would be the next day’s meal for the beast – less so in this part of the world. My test yield for the Supercharged monster was 4.3 km/L and inching along in traffic wasn’t doing any good to save on fuel.
The essential Range Rover
In the late eighties or early nineties, there was a campaign by Rolls Royce urging more and more owners of the Rolls to give the chauffeur a day off and drive the car themselves to work. What they wanted to convey was, how much ever one settles deep in its luxurious lap, one would still miss the best part of the Rolls if one weren’t driving it. Likewise, a word of advice to those who decide on the Range Rover: Refuse to be satisfied by the immensely luxurious setting of the Oak or Burl wood trims and the expensive leather alone. Take it out into the wild – at least some distance off the road. Otherwise, you will be experiencing only half of what it is capable of and enjoying just half of what you paid for.
Perhaps the most iconic of all the luxury SUVs plying our roads, the legendary comfort of the Range Rover doesn’t give you a chance to think out of the box. This is one box you’ll want to lock yourself in for the rest of your driving life.
UPSIDE: Timeless design, Elegant drive with powerful engine, Dual screen with split-viewing, Terrific interiors
FLIPSIDE: Navigation and Voice commands challenging, Multifarious controls hard to digest, Fuel disappears fast, Less pricey premium-ness available