The adage that time waits for no man can also be adapted to the automotive world where the turnover of new vehicles or models seems to be moving at warp speed. What is new today is considered aged in a year’s time, then something new comes along and repeats the cycle and so it goes. However, things tend to be slightly different the higher you climb the model range ladder where life-cycles for flagship cars seem to be stretched further than lower models. This is the case with the subject of this article, the Range Rover, which launched locally in 2013 and has recently received both a cosmetic and technological update that should see it through the next two years or so.
When the current Range Rover launched, it had managed to move the game on by being the first Range Rover to use aluminium body construction. This technique shed a whopping 420 kg over its predecessor. No matter how you slice it, that is quite a lot of weight and must have taken some doing for the engineers to achieve such a triumphant feat. What this meant for the owner, is both a more agile and more efficient vehicle than before. At the time it also presented, in my books, the pinnacle of luxury SUV construction as it managed to leave the Germans thoroughly trailing in its wake.
Of course, in recent times, the Germans seem to have clawed back some lost ground, but there are now other, more luxurious, premium offerings such as the Bentley Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, but those are also considerably more expensive. Instead, I will deem the new BMW X7 and the imminent Mercedes-Benz GLS as the Range Rover’s most direct rivals. With the advent of those competitors, the Range Rover has received some updates to bring it more in line with the more contemporary competitors.
For 2019, the model has received some minor exterior cosmetic updates, the most prominent of which are the new LED headlights that now feature matrix technology. This allows you to drive with your high beams on at night without dazzling oncoming vehicles. The taillights, too, have received the LED once-over, while the cabin has now lifted its ambience with a new infotainment screen that debuted in the Velar and a secondary screen that controls the climate control and drive-mode settings. It all melds together quite admirably, but the overall cabin architecture is slowly beginning to show its age.
Our SDV8 Vogue SE test car is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 churning out 250 kW and 740 Nm through a ZF-sourced eight-speed transmission that sends power to all wheels. It is a buttery smooth engine with mounds of effortless torque that suits the Range Rover’s regal character to the tee. There is more than enough power underfoot to overtake, while turbo lag is kept to the bare minimum, even from a standing start.
However, where the engine truly comes into its own is on the open road where it simply just murmurs ever so slightly, offering a relaxed driving style that coaxes you to travel long distances on a whim. Even with its sheer size and number of cylinders, the Rangie managed to sip around 9.4-litres per 100 km, which is quite commendable. It is, unequivocally, the engine to opt for if you want effortless power and exemplary fuel consumption.
ON AND OFF-ROAD
Sitting in the driver’s seat with your right arm on the window seal, the Range Rover truly imparts a feeling of being the Lord of the Manor as the air suspension does its best to absorb any would-be undulations and road ripples. It has a drive polish that leaves you under no illusions of why it remains the vehicle of choice for the discerning premium SUV buyer. Of course, the model’s talent is not reserved, nor one dimensional, as it easily switches its loafers for hiking boots at a push of a button and gets on with the task of conquering any off-road obstacles. It is that very dual nature that makes it one of the most capable SUVs on the planet, period.
With the advent of newer entrants, the Range Rover is beginning to show its age, but the latest updates keep it contemporary and relevant amongst its immediate rivals. It might not be the bargain it used to be when it launched with the base price of our test unit coming in at R2,493,900 before options.
Yes, it is the oldest model around and this is beginning to show in other areas. However, even with that drawback, it manages to make the owner feel like the Lord of the Manor and that, if little else, is why it is still worth a second look if you’re shopping in this SUV pond.
Report by LERATO MATEBESE | Images © JAGUAR LAND ROVER