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New Range Rover gets smarter and more luxurious. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.

New Range Rover gets smarter and more luxurious
The new Range Rover is packed with clever design and engineering together with more luxury than most of us will ever need.
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What's all this about?

The Range Rover has been with us for over fifty years and now feels deserving of a peerage. For the last five years, Land Rover has been developing the L460, the fifth generation, which has now been officially unveiled after pictures were previously leaked. We saw the SUV in the metal a few weeks ago and caught up with the heads of design and engineering to get the insight into what's gone into the new model.

The latest generation is clearly an evolution in the design of the L405 that debuted in 2012. Massimo Frascella, design director for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), told us that while it's important to stay true to the original DNA of the Range Rover, it's equally important to always stay relevant and he feels he and his team have achieved this through four key elements: modernism, integrity, purpose and desirability.

The latter is a key point of discussion because while the Range Rover has set a standard for luxurious SUVs for fifty years, one of the things that has made it so popular is its Land Rover capability. Today Frascella says that people are not as interested in what it is capable of, instead they see it and they just have to have it. We wonder what engineering say about that.

Let's have a talk with design and engineering then.

To increase the desirability factory, the design has been tweaked, with the side graphic behind the front wheel arches now flatter and more artistic. The yacht line that rises up from the sill remains but many of the design lines have either been removed or toned down as part of the reductionist strategy that is happening across design in JLR. This includes the "hidden waist": says exterior designer Rob Battams, where the edges between the doors and the windows are almost imperceptible. That's not quite true of the shut lines for the clamshell bonnet, but he says they have been significantly reduced to give a cleaner look.

There's lots of familiarity in the overall design with some subtle tweaks across models, such as the different grille on the SV Serenity and Intrepid versions. The biggest changes are at the rear with the prominent black arch that Frascella told us is inspired by the Apple iPhone screen. Where are the lights then you ask? Surely Police Interceptors will be pulling Range Rover owners over everywhere? Well no, because the lights feature some of the more than 125 patents that were required for the technology in the new model. They feature LED bulbs that face into the car where their light shines onto mirrors that then magnify the light so it shoots out with enough intensity to penetrate the dark plastic. They meet all global lighting regulations and not only that, if the hazard lights are on and the tailgate is open there are duplicates in the bumper.

Creating these lights was "wickedly cool fun," according to the director of engineering at JLR, Nick Rogers. He's a firm believer in the same ideology of Charles Spencer-King, who created the first Range Rover, that "an engineer should do whatever it takes". He does and so does his team, from the first plans and virtual reality simulations to managing over 1,000,000km of real-world testing.

They've created new bodywork made from 80 per cent aluminium with 50 per cent more torsional rigidity. It's also said to produce 24 per cent less structural noise, part of what Rogers calls the aim to create a "tranquil sanctuary" in the cabin. That's further enhanced by a noise cancelling system that can respond to external noise in a fraction of a second. It still won't be able to keep the kids quiet though.

That brings us to the luxury and technology of the interior

The Range Rover will be available with seven seats for the first time in its history, although only in the long wheelbase version. Technically you could say nine seats because there's the option of Tailgate Event seating for two when the boot is open. If you want to go full business class then you can opt for the Signature Suite which has two reclining rear seats either side of a full length centre console. It not only contains a fridge and a controls tablet, but an exquisitely crafted wood and metal table that rises out of the console as though making a grand operatic entrance.

It's all part of an interior that features new materials, including sustainable and recyclable ones, the ability to have different colours front and rear to further differentiate each section and more of that reductionist philosophy. This means a cleaner dashboard with a single line along the top and less buttons, although fortunately the essentials remain. There's a 13.1-inch touchscreen containing the Pivi Pro infotainment system from the new Defender and that now incorporates Amazon's Alexa. A nice luxury touch is the availability of ceramic on SV models for items like the gearstick and badging, something that looks and feels a lot better than the Swarovski crystal in a BMW.

All this design and luxury is great, but what about that capability?

Well, there are 34.7 and 29-degree approach and departure angles respectively. It has 295mm of ground clearance and the air suspension can rise up to 145mm. The wading depth is 900mm and it has a 48v electric anti-roll system to try and stop everyone shaking around too much while off-roading and to keep things flat if enjoying a dynamic drive on-road.

Talking of on-road, let's talk engines and here there's big news and then even bigger news. First up, the new plug-in hybrid petrol electric vehicle (PHEV). Before EVangelists get on our case, yes this doesn't make it an EV but a full battery-electric version will be along in 2024. For now though, a PHEV is a great transitional option for those who need the best of both worlds. In the Range Rover they get it too because despite its weight it has a 62 mile electric-only range which beats anything from rivals like the Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne.

Then there's the V8 and if you're expecting the usual 5.0-litre supercharged from JLR then you'll be wrong because the long-rumoured switch to BMW power has finally happened. Yes, the Range Rover gets the BMW N63 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo which has been extensively re-worked in a joint deal between BMW and JLR and produces 530hp and 750Nm. Expect to see it in other models soon.

Beyond the headline news on the engines, there will also be mild-hybrid petrol and diesels.

Right, so what's it all going to cost?

The new Range Rover will be available in the UK from Spring 2022 with prices starting at £94,400 for the D300 diesel. That's for an entry-level SE spec version but then there is HSE, Autobiography and First Edition. You can also go into JLR Special Vehicle Operations territory with the SV Serenity and SV Intrepid versions, the former being all about elegant luxury, the latter a darker and sportier looking thing. If you still want more then you'll be wanting to go full-on bespoke and it's almost the sky's the limit.

If you're wondering about the next generation of the Range Rover Sport, there's not much we can tell you about that, except that it is codenamed L461 and it should be along shortly, if that helps. It probably doesn't.

There might be a small difference of opinion between the design and engineering teams as to what makes someone want a Range Rover, but they both agree that they have worked closer than ever before on the new one. There's lots to like about it and a few points to discuss, but like the previous four generations, it's easy to imagine that it will once again be lord of the SUV manor.

Mark Smyth - 26 Oct 2021

2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.

2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.2021 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby.    - Land Rover road tests
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