ICONIC is an often over-used word, regularly applied to all manner of things which do not merit it. The same can be said of many people too. But, in the motoring world, the epithet is certainly richly deserved by one particular model of car, which I have had the privilege of driving for Flush Magazine.
It is the latest Range Rover … imposing, impressive and, as I found in a week-long road test, providing a peerless driving experience.
I can still remember the original model arriving on the scene 40-or-so years ago, and loving the blend of go-anywhere toughness and handsome, distinctive lines. Today’s car is a massive progression from its earliest forebear – especially in the field of luxury – but retains that awesome off-road ability, and that unique and winning mix of style and substance.
I can testify to the Range Rover’s ability to tackle challenging terrain after driving one on a demanding off-road course in the Worcestershire countryside. With an expert driver by my side to provide some know-how, the car tackled mud, rocks and deep water with ease, while conveying its occupants in cossetted fashion. Admiration? Yes, with a capital A.
There was no opportunity to try out our test car, a Vogue SE with 4.4-litre V8 diesel engine, in such conditions, but, then again, there was no need. After all, I had already had a generous introduction to the Range Rover’s powers over the rough stuff.
So I soaked up a week of luxurious Tarmac travel, revelling in the big car’s smooth swathe of power, delivered in silky fashion by the eight-speed automatic gearbox, while enjoying the elevated driving position and the overall feeling of effortless, masterful capability.
I liked the lines of the previous model, but the latest incarnation is more handsome still, with a clean and elegant shape which is derived from a fresh, new interpretation of the marque’s design cues. There’s a smoother, more streamline profile, and the manufacturer says it is the most aerodynamic Range Rover.
Inside you are treated to tasteful luxury, meticulous attention to detail and first class comfort… I felt like quitting the house and moving in. Finest, supple, hand-finished leather sits alongside high quality real wood veneers in a well-judged marriage of beautiful textures. And there’s push-button everything, from seat adjustment (front and rear) to powered split-tailgate. There are also some glorious touches which bring a smile of appreciation. The interior ambient mood lighting, and puddle lighting that casts the words ‘Range Rover’ in its beam are just two that spring to mind.
My test car had some great optional features – rear seat entertainment system with touch-screen remote control, sliding panoramic roof and 1700-watt audio system among them – but the Vogue SE specification gives new meaning to the word extensive.
Features included dual view functionality for the dashboard’s central eight-inch touch screen (the front seat passenger can watch TV on the move – and listen via wireless headphones – but the driver is unable to view (how do they achieve that?), heated seats both front and back with climate and memory features for the front, rain-sensing widescreen wipers, rear view and surround cameras and front and rear park distance sensors with visual display, heated windscreen, xenon headlamps with LED signature lighting, automatic levelling and power wash, large armrest box with cooling feature, keyless entry and start system, soft door close, and much, much more.
But the Range Rover is not just a handsome face and rugged abilities. It’s also a technical tour de force, as the world’s first SUV (sports utility vehicle) with a lightweight all-aluminium body contributing to a 420kg weight-saving over the previous model. And there’s a ground-breaking next-generation version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response System, which analyses the current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings, among lots more advanced technology.
Yes, being dubbed a motoring icon is fully deserved … this is a car that achieves so much in so many ways.
Make/model: Range Rover Vogue SE 4.4L SD V8.
Fuel: 32.5mpg (combined)
Performance: 0-60mph, 6.5 seconds; top speed, 135mph
Price: £84,720 inc VAT OTR (exc options)