A life lived in Britain, here at the adolescence of a the 21st Century, is a montage of contradictions. On one hand it’s possible to be served barbecue burgers in what appears to be a barely-swept industrial abattoir by a nineteen year old with tattoos on his face. On another hand Henley Regatta, a literal festival of rowing, is still something that transports people actually called Sebastian and Arabella into such a tizzy that they are forced to skive off internships at investment banks. And all this while an unfathomable orange maniac from across the seas tweets gnomic threats into the night.
Sometimes he plans to build a wall, sometimes to level a city. Always, we are tantalised with imminent chaos.
But thankfully there are things that seem to exist outside these desperate, savage times – things like Elgar and Spitfires that will be forever of this sceptred isle. And one of those things is the Range Rover. Wherever you are in Britain – a point-to-point in Gloucestershire or a Birkenhead council estate, there is comfort in knowing that one or another variant of the old beast is never more than a stone’s throw away.
The reasons for the Range Rover’s ubiquity are few but motivating and can be boiled down to the following: Luxury and capability.
The reasons for the Range Rover’s ubiquity are few but motivating and can be boiled down to the following: luxury and capability.
Quite simply, there is no other car on British roads that can, should it be required, transport an entire family (plus dogs) across five miles of ploughed fields, ditches and chewed up hillocks in surroundings more akin to an executive’s office than a battle tank.
Some vehicles can do one, some the other. But not both at the same time and certainly not with any consistency. Come the apocalypse, the weed tangled streets of Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham and London will be filled with cockroaches, cyborgs and jolly tribes in Hunter wellies disembarking from Range Rovers for an afternoon of looting and scavenging. The Range Rover can and regularly does handle whatever Britain has to throw at it.
Throughout the range there’s an engine and specification for everyone. With the workmanlike 3.0 litre 258 bhp TDV6 and the 4.4 litre SDV8 at 339 bhp with a herculean 740 Nm of torque between 1750 and 2250 rpm, town and country, comfort and grunt applications are covered from a diesel perspective.
At 7.4 and 6.5 seconds 0-60 respectively neither are what might be termed sluggish given the dimensions of the Autobiography. That said, things get very interesting with the petrol option, an ebullient 5 litre supercharged V8 biffer generating 510 bhp and a roar to strip plaster off outbuildings. At 5.1 seconds on the race to 60mph the spirited Range Rover driver could give a few highfalutin sports saloons and hyper hatches a very public schooling off the lights should the urge take hold.
Handling compromises are inevitable from a machine as heavy and long as the Range but that isn’t to say that joy isn’t to be had. A modicum of roll is there as expected but overall the car is composed through the snaking lanes of the countryside, allowing for perhaps a little more push than is advisable when the next corner could be hiding an oncoming John Dere. The suspension is supple – taut but yielding when conditions demand.
Which brings us to the comfort, the myriad features that comprise it being far too numerous to discuss. So let’s start with the general cabin feel. The model we drove features a sumptuous ivory and burgundy leather combination with dark wood inlay and a rich berry carpet. Screens abound with connectivity and control manifest throughout the vehicle. A dual visibility lenticular screen up front allows passengers to kick back with a film as the driver concentrates on the technical information.
Even the sound is channelled into the passenger side to obviate all distractions. And if things get a little too comfortable and the head begins to nod have no fear… integrated air conditioning issues from the deep, comfortable and highly detailed seats to revitalise the parts that other AC cannot reach. If that weren’t enough the seats also feature a programmable massage functionality to keep circulation and, presumably, alertness at a maximum.
All this interior refinement is thrown into even greater relief by the miraculous sound deadening of both aluminium monocoque and insulated glass. Glass, which incidentally, is everywhere with the option of the aquarium-like panoramic roof.
So, as Armageddon breaks out all around, you’ll have the best views in Blighty with none of that troublesome screaming that comes with it. What more could an Englishman wish for than his own road-going castle?