Of all the various challenges in the automotive world, being asked to improve an already accomplished model is likely to be the biggest challenge for even the most experienced engineer or designer.

And when the product in question also has an iconic reputation that dates back more than fifty years, saying yes isn’t easy at all. Such an example is the new Range Rover.

The founder does not care about criticism

Introduced in 1970 as a fancier version of the Land Rover, it quickly became the benchmark for a luxury off-roader that stayed true to its origins despite its appeal, transforming from mere dirt to a luxury status symbol, much to the chagrin of its designer, Charles Spencer King.

The man better known as Span King told the BBC in 2004 in what became a famously documented tirade against SUVs, “4×4 has become an alternative to a Mercedes or a BMW for the cocky, cocky driver.

READ ALSO: The official price of the evolutionary all-new Range Rover

“[It] was never intended as a status symbol, but later incarnations of my design seem to serve that purpose.

“Using a 4×4 for school runs or even in cities and towns is completely stupid. I find people who use it very unattractive.”

Paying homage to the original, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan-like rear fascia is probably the most controversial aspect of the new model

The merits of King’s criticism, perhaps no better illustrated than today, posed further challenges as an emphasis on luxury and technology had to be balanced with off-road ability despite the changing customer focus.

The stakes couldn’t have been higher for the team led by Jaguar-Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern, but the first all-new Range Rover in almost a decade made an immediate impact at its global launch last year. So much so that the waiting list has been going on for twelve months.

History of evolution

Unveiled at its gala debut in South Africa earlier this year, the new L460 Range Rover internally is not only lighter and stiffer than before, it’s also more impressive and aims to rewrite the definition of being impressive.

With the first two models based on the MLA-Flex platform, the second being the new Range Rover Sport, Land Rover has taken what can be seen as an evolutionary step in front-end design.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
Despite being the same length as the standard model, the L’s wheelbase is 200mm longer

Best described as subtly redesigned, the still rounded front features the same headlight and grille design as the previous Range Rover, but tweaked to look just as imposing and elegant as before. For the record, the lights themselves are now digital rather than the usual LEDs.

More controversial is the rear fascia, which, while paying homage to the original concept, mirrors the Rolls-Royce Cullinan concept in that the vertical LED taillights are thinner and the clusters are blacked out.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
Despite the extra weight and length, the L doesn’t let its luxury get in the way when it comes to getting dirty

As before, the split tailgate remains, although it’s now electrically operated and equipped with what Land Rover calls an “event kit” in which the floor panel lifts up to prevent luggage from rolling away, or acts as a backrest, while the seat is secured by a lower trunk door.

In addition to the automatically retracting trunk lid, the speakers have been integrated into the trunk lid and can be programmed to be the only functional sound providers of the 35-speaker Meridian sound system.

Inside and below

However, it’s on the inside where the Range Rover becomes truly advanced. In addition to the new 13.1-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system, 13.7-inch digital instrument cluster and optional 11.4-inch dual rear displays, it also has speakers built into the headrests as part of the active noise cancellation system, soft-touch doors lock and digital rear view mirror.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
The interior features a new 13.1-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system and a 13.7-inch dashboard

The tech fest extends to the chassis, where the Range Rover comes standard with full power steering designed to improve low-speed handling, a 48-volt mild hybrid electronic air suspension called Dynamic Response Pro and an active locking rear differential.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
Headroom and legroom in a Range Rover with a standard wheelbase will not cause any complaints…

Along with Driveline Dynamics, which varies the torque between the axles, Land Rover has also fitted the Range Rover with new anti-roll bars, twin-valve dampers and an improved Terrain Response 2 system, still with a low-range transfer case.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
…but has a long wheelbase for full effect

The technology doesn’t detract from the equally novel power methods under the hood, two of which were given an official ‘first drive’ in Cape Town last week.

The new heart of the Range Rover

In total, the Range Rover line includes four configurations; HSE, Autobiography, First Edition and SV, a choice of standard or long wheelbase with five or seven seats and three engine options, all mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifter.

The first to come under the spotlight was the P530, which tops the petrol engine range with 390kW/750Nm from BMW’s 4.4-litre bi-turbo V8.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
Probably, firstly, no cheap or inferior materials were seen inside

A replacement for Ford’s venerable 5.0-litre AJ supercharged V8, the same unit used in the M850i, X5, X6 and X7, but for South Africa, ditches the 48V mild hybrid unit used in Europe.

Although it lacks the supercharged whine that has long been part of the Range Rover’s character, the biturbo V8 doesn’t need speed.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
As part of the long wheelbase, the center console folds down with an electric drive

Saddled with a guttural growl that turns into a snarling growl at full throttle, it needs no second invitation to raise the 2,510kg P530’s roar when provoked, while pushing its passenger back into their heated and ventilated seats with a soothing burst of endless spray that is completely addictive and intoxicating.

In second place is the D350. While all-wheel-drive versions came in Autobiography specification, which Land Rover predicted would be a best-seller, the oil burner was slotted into the long-wheelbase five-seater L, which has a 200mm longer wheelbase than the standard model. .

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
A new eight-inch display integrated into the rear console controls a number of functions from the rear seats

Unsurprisingly not as punchy and responsive as the P530’s V8, the 257kW/700Nm 3.0-litre Ingenium inline-six, which replaces the old 3.6 TDV8 and also dispenses with the mild hybrid system, is smooth and quiet. , but can still turn up his nose when asked.

While noticeably slower from 0-100km/h, 6.1 seconds versus 4.6 seconds, lower power, a 50Nm torque deficit, added length and 2,495kg weight, 55kg more than standard , did not affect the D350 as before. refined on-road and off-road like the P530.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
Dual 11.4-inch displays are part of the rear-seat entertainment system

Next year will see a third powertrain, the P510e, which combines a 3.0-litre Ingenium turbo petrol inline-six with a 38.2kWh lithium-ion battery driving a 105kW electric motor for a total output system of 375 kW and the declared power reserve. 113 km.

Unlike its siblings, the P510e will not be offered in long-wheelbase guise, which was in keeping with the relaxed nature of the D350 as opposed to the sporty intentions of the P530.

Picking is a struggle

As well as the aforementioned rear display, the long-wheelbase option comes with an electronically adjustable center console that features an integrated eight-inch touchscreen and reclining seats that create a massage business jet-type feel.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
For the first time in a Range Rover, the floor panel folds down to act as a backrest, while the lower rear door doubles as a seat

Despite the standard fitment of 23-inch alloy wheels also fitted to the P530, the D350 just floated down the road and felt at ease on a stretch of gravel road where my partner and I questioned whether we were actually on gravel.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
The rear speakers of the Meridian sound system, integrated into the trunk lid, can be configured to be the only sound source

Moreover, the quality and finish. In a case unfamiliar to most scribes, not a single cheap or inappropriate piece of plastic or material was seen.


Bar exotics like the Aston Martin DBX and Lamborghini Urus, the Range Rover arguably ranks as the best and most efficient mass-produced SUV currently on sale, one of my colleagues said at the end of a two-day luxury jaunt.

Road tests of the new Range Rover in South Africa
The Autobiography is expected to account for the largest share of the Range Rover’s local sales

It is a feeling that simply cannot be debated or questioned, for the enhancement of the sublime is indeed possible in the most dramatic and incredible ways.


A five-year, 100,000km maintenance plan is standard across the Range Rover range.

  • D350 HSE – R2 947 000
  • D350 CV – R3 409 000
  • D350 Autobiography L – R3 494 000
  • D350 Autobiography L seven seater – R3 525 000
  • D350 First Edition – R3 537 000
  • D350 First Edition L – R3 621 000
  • D350 SV – 3,973,000 rupees
  • D350 SV L – R4 407 000
  • P510e CV – R3 633 000
  • P510e First Edition – R3 689 000
  • P510e SV – R4 081 000
  • P530 HSE – R3 117 000
  • P530 Autobiography – R3 579 000
  • P530 Autobiography of L – R3 664 000
  • P530 Autobiography L seven seater – R3 695 000
  • P530 First Edition – R3 688 000
  • P530 First Edition L – R3 773 000
  • P530 SV – R4 038 000
  • P530 SV L – R4 473 000

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