Range Rover First Drive Review
Our 2014 Range Rover first drive review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
By Isaac Bober (Editor)
In a nutshell The world’s most luxurious and capable 4WD is back and it’s more luxurious and capable than ever before.
Practical Motoring Says This is easily the best Range Rover since the release of the first one back in June 1970 which changed the world of 4WDs forever. More comfortable than just about any other luxury car on the road and more capable than just about anything else off it, the new Range Rover is easily one of the best cars I’ve driven in the last 10 years.
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE that despite racking up more than 40 years on the market this is only the fourth generation Range Rover. But it’s easily the most significant release of the model’s history, and it’s lighter, more fuel efficient and cleverer than ever before.
It’s also, like never before, unashamedly a top level luxury vehicle, able to be judged alongside anything from Bentley or the range toppers from Audi’s A8 and BMW’s 7-Series line-ups, for example. But, it’s also more capable off-road than ever before, so in true Land Rover style, the new Range Rover successfully spans seemingly polar-opposite genres.
One of this vehicle’s major chattering points has been the weight Land Rover has saved (around 420kg depending on the spec level) by binning steel in favour of an all-aluminium monocoque body structure. Doing that has made this new Range Rover a staggering 39% lighter than the outgoing model, but with a starting weight of 2160kg (TDV6) it’s still no lightweight. Our top-range 5.0-litre supercharged V8 Autobiography test vehicle weighed in at 2330kg and is priced from a hefty $240,100 (+ORC). Pricing starts from $168,900 (+ORC) for the 3.0L TDV6 Diesel Range Rover.
Look past the Range Rover’s sleek, Evoque-esque headlights and the consistent-for-40-years Range Rover design cues are still there. For instance, the new Rangie still carries a clamshell bonnet, a floating roof and side fender vents – all reimagined for this new iteration.
Where this car’s predecessor looked like Windsor Castle on wheels, this new one, while being every bit as imposing on the road, is a whole lot softer and more luxurious to look at. But don’t let those good looks fool you, because the new Range Rover can tow 3500kg with 350kg on the tow ball, off-road ground clearance is just a smidgen shy of 300mm (295.5mm) and maximum wading depth is 900mm. The approach, breakover, and departure angles (in on- and off-road ride height) are equally impressive: 26-34.7 degrees; 20.1-28.3 degrees; 24.6-29.6 degrees, respectively.
Inside, the story, particularly in this Autobiography model, is one of opulence. Indeed, climb up inside – and despite access height lowering the vehicle’s standard ride height by 50mm you do still need to ‘climb’ up inside – and drop your backside into the heated, cooled and massaging leather-wrapped seat and gaze about, it’s hard not to be impressed.
Unlike a lot of luxury models costing similar and sometimes more than this Range Rover Autobiography the wood actually looks like wood (and not plastic), the metal looks like metal (and not plastic), and the leather, looks, feels and smells like leather (and not vinyl). Look past those elements and you’ll notice that even the plastic exudes a sense of quality you just don’t find in other similarly-priced vehicles.
Accommodation in the front and back is impressive with back seat passengers receiving an extra 118mm of leg space, and electrically adjustable seat backs. The boot, with those back seats in position is 900 litres, fold them flat and this grows to 2030 litres. There’s a near-VW-Amarok-equalling 1120mm of space between the wheel arches (the Amarok manages 1200mm).
The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 produces an epic 375kW and 625Nm (this engine also does service in the Jaguar XJ Supersport). It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic that offers barely perceptible shifts, resulting in a constant pouring on of power. All of the Range Rover’s weight and power do have an effect on the fuel consumption though, with the official combined figure being 13.8L/100km, but around town you can expect that to be more likely up around 20L/100km.
There’s an expectation when your vehicle is judged as much luxury car as it is a 4WD SUV that it should offer an excellent secondary ride, smothering the worst of the roads’ imperfections. And that’s exactly what the Range Rover does, smoothing out the road while still maintaining excellent body control; the latter not normally a trait you associate with air sprung vehicles.
This is an easy vehicle to drive and place on the road, but it’s still no serious rival, dynamically speaking, to, say a Porsche Cayenne which offers a lot more connection and road feel. But, off-road the Range Rover is without peer. Huge wheel travel, impressive approach, breakover and departure angles and a clever updated Terrain Response system mean that even a novice four-wheel driver can tackle the roughest of tracks with confidence. And it’s off-road that the soft, air springs come into their own as does the impressive all-around visibility.
Thanks to massive 380mm ventilated discs at the front, the Range Rover offers impressive stopping power too, and even after giving them a workout on our test road in the Blue Mountains they maintained decent pedal feel and retardation.