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ALAN DOUGLAS: This high end Range Rover is staggering in all respects

By Alan Douglas

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WHEN I told a friend the price of the latest Range Rover I’d been driving, she took a step back.

“If I was paying that, I’d expect a chef and a butler to be included,” she said.

With a price tag of just short of £150,000, the First Edition version in Autobiography spec costs a barrowload of cash, especially with its exclusive Sunset Gold satin paint job, which at £7140 itself is as much as you’d expect to spend on a reasonable second-hand car. So as I settled into the perforated semi-aniline, heated and massaging seats – with built-in audio speakers – is it worth the money?

The Range Rover has always been an iconic vehicle, filling the exclusive spot in motoring and featuring heavily in many people’s wish lists since British Leyland revealed the first version in 1970.

Despite reliability and quality issues over more than 50 years, it continues to be an aspirational machine, favoured by celebs and royalty as well as the occupants of 10 Downing Street.

It has remained at the expensive end but your money brings you perceived status and there’s no shortage of demand.

Regardless of whether such a big luxury car is appropriate in these difficult times you see an extraordinary piece of British engineering.

The latest fifth generation version is instantly identifiable as a Range Rover with the same SUV profile but there is clever detail with flush-fitting side windows, fewer creases around the bodywork and door handles which disappear until needed to give a clean, smooth look. Apart from being easy-on-the eye, it helps it slip through the air and is claimed to be the most aerodynamically-efficient luxury SUV in the world.

The slimmer adaptive high-definition digital LED headlights have a beam of up to half-a-kilometre and can shadow up to 16 objects in its path so as not to dazzle other drivers.

The back end is dramatic with rear lights hidden behind a thin black line surrounding the boot lid and don’t appear until switched on or if the sequential indicators are activated.

It’s a matter of taste, but I think they are stunning, like most of the changes in the car itself.

The sumptious interior.
The sumptious interior.

The most interesting development is under the clamshell bonnet with the addition of advanced 48-volt mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines and extended-range plug-in hybrids with an electric range of up to 62 mph. The first all-electric version should be here in a couple of years.

I spent some time in a mild-hybrid 3.0 litre twin turbo diesel with great performance to shoot up to 60 mph in under six seconds but returning around 35 miles for every gallon. What was really enjoyable though was when I got in the featured 4.4 litre V8 petrol version turning out a gutsy 530 hp which simply swallowed the miles I clocked up around the west coast.

If you want to, this beast will also happily venture off-road with a wading depth of almost a metre and has all the low-range and terrain response 4x4 toys you need to keep safe in extreme conditions.

The interior is superbly luxurious with an impeccable finish dominated by a vast curved infotainment screen and while it contains a huge amount of function control, there are still plenty of conventional buttons for heating and ventilation and some of the driver control features.

The silky smooth eight-speed auto gearbox is a delight and the ride absorbs everything put in its way, thanks to pre-emptive air suspension that uses navigation data to read the road ahead and provide perfect responses. Interior space is vast with the option of four, five or seven-seats across Standard and Long Wheelbase body designs.

All-wheel steering is standard across the range for high-speed stability on the open road and improved manoeuvrability at low speeds to negotiate tight urban streets with the smallest turning circle of any Land Rover.

CAR: Range Rover 4.4 litre V8 Twin Turbo petrol auto AWD First Edition Autobiography

PRICE: £147,560 as tested

ENGINE: 4395cc

POWER: 530 hp

TORQUE: 750 Nm

TOWING ABILITY: 3,500 Kgs (braked)

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 155 mph 0-60 mph 4.4 secs

CONSUMPTION: 24.2 mpg combined

CO2 EMISSIONS: 265 g/km

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