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HomeLAUNCHEDNEW RANGE ROVER D350 FIRST EDITION

NEW RANGE ROVER D350 FIRST EDITION

LAYERS OF LUXURY |

To the uninitiated, the new Range Rover might seem like a mild refresh of the previous car. You might even see one on the road and wonder if it’s old or new, only to make your final assessment as it passes, and you see the hidden taillights and slimmed-down hips, and realise that this is the most elegantly evolved Range Rover the company has produced in its 50-year history. 

The new Range Rover may build on its predecessor’s elegant proportions, but once you peel back its layers of luxury and sophistication, you will find, as we had during our week-long test, an incredibly extensive update to the classic Range Rover formula.

ELEGANTLY EVOLVED

Firstly, the Range Rover rides on a new platform, as we discussed extensively in the car’s launch review (**Driven** October 2022). In a nutshell, the architecture allows for more body styles, seating configurations (in other markets), and powertrain options than have ever been available on Land Rover’s halo product.

Inside, the new Range Rover is wholly unrecognisable from the previous version. Designed to create an environment of calmness and to make the driving experience less taxing for occupants and driver alike, it succeeds in doing that, and more. 

The tech employed in the new car is a departure from the multi-screen approach that Land Rover followed in the Velar. Instead, the new Range Rover features a giant 13.1” infotainment display working in unison with buttons and dials for the HVAC controls, volume, and drive modes. The driver is treated to a 13.7” digital instrumentation display.

In addition to the visual and tech upgrades, the cabin also features active noise cancellation and the novel use of alternative materials such as ceramics, wool, and leather alternatives. 

BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE

Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, there’s no bad place to be in the new Range Rover. The cabin is impeccably finished, quiet, and relaxing. Fit, finish, and material quality are especially impressive, and we didn’t detect a single rattle or shake. 

Seats are comfortable and supportive and offer plenty of adjustability. Upfront, the First Edition gets 24-way heated and cooled, massage electric front seats, while rear passengers are treated to ‘Executive Class’ rear seats. With this configuration, each seat is individually adjustable, and rear passengers can control the windows and privacy blinds on either side of the car. An automatic folding armrest also houses the control panel for the rear, headrest-mounted entertainment system and rear climate control. 

As a First Edition, our tester boasted the opulent SV Bespoke Full Extended Leather upgrade. The cabin is tastefully donned with thick Perlino perforated semi-aniline leather seats with Perlino interior trim, natural Ecru Walnut veneer, high-grade piano-black plastic, and real aluminium trim. The stitching is arrow straight, and there’s not a hint of cheap plastic found anywhere in the cabin.

POWER FOR THE POWERFUL

No matter the powertrain, wheelbase, trim, or number of seats, the new Range Rover experience is singular: luxury without fuss.

Our tester – the Autobiography-based First Edition D350 – was powered by Land Rover’s 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder Ingenium turbodiesel engine. While the P510e-derivative’s BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8 is, perhaps, the better matched to the grandeur of the Ranger Rover, of the two available powerplants, it’s not to say that the Ingenium engine is a poor match. In practice, the two missing cylinders are hardly noticed. The mild hybrid powertrain has strong low-end shove off the line and ample passing power. Range Rover owners who regularly cart around five-plus passengers might be tempted to upgrade, but for most owners, the Ingenium engine is more than adequate.

The Range Rover routes power through an eight-speed automatic into a four-wheel-drive system. It also features four-wheel steering, air springs, electronic dampers, and a system that scans the road ahead to virtually eliminate impacts. A 48-volt electric anti-roll bar system is also available for the first time on a Range Rover, and is designed to reduce body roll in corners and improve off-road articulation.

No matter the engine, the Range Rover’s transmission shifts nearly imperceptibly. Although eager to maintain its higher ratios, it downshifts quickly enough that passing was never a problem. Augmenting this nimbleness, the Range Rover’s steering is classically British – light, tactile, and low effort. With less weight on the nose, the D350 feels light on a winding road, and with low levels of body roll, there is seldom the need to make steering corrections around twisty corners.

As for the Range Rover’s new four-wheel steering system, understated assistance is at play at higher speeds, although the system makes a massive difference at low speeds and around town, allowing the Range Rover to feel as manoeuvrable as a significantly larger car.

Ride quality is generally exceptional, given the presence of air springs, electronic dampers, active anti-roll bars, and a road-scanning system. With the often uneven road surfaces in and around Gauteng our daily reality, it is understandable that the massive 23” alloys glancing off the imperfections will have a less than desirable effect on the ride quality, it’s never outright unrefined, feeling beautifully stable in most conditions. 

LAST WORD

Ultimately, the New Range Rover may not look like a massive departure from the brand’s understated design at first glance, but it quickly revealed itself to be a remarkably well-conceived rethink of what a Range Rover is and what it can be. The new car is more comfortable, more luxurious, and all-in-all easier to live with than any of its predecessors. It’s a powerful reminder to all automakers playing in the full-size luxury SUV space about who really wears the crown.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © RANGE ROVER SOUTH AFRICA

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