A common man’s utility vehicle: This is how the Rover Company envisioned the Series I, II and III Land Rovers after the Second World War. As Britain regained its position in the world and improved its economy around the ’60s and the ’70s, it was time for the Rover Company to rebrand. This was when the Range Rover was born.
Now referred to as the ‘Classic’, the first-generation Range Rover was introduced in 1970 as a full-size, luxury sport utility vehicle. Since then, its parent company, Jaguar Land Rover, has extended the Range Rover sub-brand with inclusion of more options like the Evoque and the Velar; but the full-fat Range Rover continues to dominate with its size, luxury and capability. For those who want to indulge in a bit of sporty luxuriousness, there’s the Range Rover Sport. For those who want to travel in absolute opulence and grandeur, both on and off the road, there is the quarter pounder that is the Range Rover.
After almost five decades, we have arrived at the fourth generation of the Range Rover. Introduced back in 2012, now after a facelift, the new Range Rover brings every modern feature and amenity that one could expect from a `2-crore car. The new model comes with an updated honeycomb grille and new LED headlights, both distancing it from the utilitarian design of the Land Rover Discovery, being more in sync with the chiselled and more upmarket design trend established by the Range Rover Velar.
This particular example shown in the images here is the Range Rover Vogue SE LWB, which means that it’s second to the base Vogue variant, while the LWB represents a 20cm extension in the wheelbase over the standard model. If you are a plutocrat, then there are even higher variants like the Autobiography and the SVAutobiography on offer, where you can get Rolls Royce-style power-closing doors, along with full-size massaging recliners and other accoutrements (that can be specified as per taste).
That said, the Vogue SE LWB is not sparse. You get reclining seats and a massive panoramic sunroof, while the extended wheelbase is used for providing extra legroom at the back. This is not a car to drive, but one to be driven around in. The facelift continues inside too, where the Range Rover finally gets modernised with the dual infotainment displays carried forward from the Velar, along with touch- sensitive steering controls. It is a rather nice place to be, actually. Amidst supple leather, wood and metal accents, the Range Rover feels plush with every touch and feel.
Perhaps the only element that is a little drab is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that powers the Vogue SE LWB. Its 254-horsepower engine keeps the lumpy 2.4-tonne behemoth sailing smoothly on open roads, albeit a bit underwhelmingly while overtaking swiftly. Not to worry though, as a 4.4-litre V8 diesel engine with nearly 750 Nm of torque can be ordered instead. If you are a petrol person, then you may choose between the raspy 3.0-litre V6 engine or the 517- horsepower, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine! But I do not see any need for such an excess, as the Range Rover is not particularly exciting while going around bends. But it’s a given that the Rangie is not meant to be a sporty handler. Instead, the height adjustable air suspensions are set up in such a way that one would simply float about without the slightest hint of undulations from cracks on the road surface. The ride quality is supreme.
While most owners would hardly bother about how driving the Range Rover Vogue SE LWB feels, I should mention that this is an intimidating car to drive, both for the driver and everyone around. Its size takes a little getting used to when behind the wheel, which is more of a concern for the driver if he wants his salary to keep coming uninterrupted for the rest of his tenure. On the other hand, the big Rangie is intimidating to the surrounding traffic, which is a good thing. In a country where even premium and luxury saloons get engulfed by the swarm of two-, three- and four-wheelers on the road, the gigantic footprint of the SUV miraculously stops everyone in their path, aiding drivability around town. In the hierarchy of road vehicles, Range Rover is the Supreme Being.
Range Rover then, in most cases, is a tool that aids levelling surfaces to a smooth creamy, carpet-like feel. While you see dystopian roads ahead, you get a First-Worldly feel driving over them. Yes, it’s an SUV that goes off road, but let’s not pretend anyone’s going to go anywhere as extreme as they would with a Jeep or a Land Rover Defender. It is a luxurious mall crawler that goes extremely well as an incredible off-roader, a cosy city dweller and a very capable highway cruiser that keeps its occupants rejuvenated at the end of a long journey. It is still, as always, the king of every road, and off it.