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MOTORS: This luxury Range Rover can still have fun off-roading

By Alan Douglas

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Range Rover.
Range Rover.

It’s hard to believe that the Range Rover is now entering its 54th year and even more surprisingly, for the first 11 years of its life, it had only two-doors.

Not just that, but a skim through the British Leyland sales brochure from 1970 shows it cost less than £2000 – roughly £35,000 in today’s money which for around the price of a current family saloon doesn’t seem bad.

Admittedly, in contrast to the luxurious and technologically-advanced vehicle that bears the name now, it was pretty basic with seatbelts the only safety feature and others like lane departure warning and airbags simply figments of the imagination.

Half a century on, the only connection with the original is the name reflecting its progression from little more than an upmarket agricultural workhorse to luxury transport fit for royalty.

The full-size Range Rover is now a very expensive piece of kit which, even without options, costs about the same as a starter flat with little change out of £150,000.

The featured hybrid Sport version test car is a step down and costs slightly less, but not by much, still topping the scales at more than £100,000 but for that you get a big car which comes packed with equipment and is superbly comfortable.

A full EV should be with us in the not-too-distant future but in the meantime, the plug-in hybrid is a good stepping-stone on the road to electrification, bringing the benefit of economy which would have been unthinkable with previous versions.

Range Rover.
Range Rover.

On a full charge, it’s claimed that up to 69 miles of all-electric driving is possible, depending on conditions, and it helps return an official fuel consumption figure of more than 300 mpg, but again that’s open to driving style, weather, traffic conditions and all the other factors that we encounter on our roads. In theory, you should be able to do most everyday running about and commuting with only the occasional visit to a petrol station.

Bearing in mind this is a heavy vehicle, tipping the scales at almost three tonnes with a three-litre, straight-six turbocharged engine under the bonnet, that is quite impressive.

It is also deliciously quiet, even when it automatically switches from electric power to petrol and I found the only clue that the engine had kicked in was seeing the rev counter needle moving.

It’s also quick off the mark, reaching 62mph in under five-and-a-half-seconds but if you take such a heavy-footed approach, you’ll soon use up the battery reserves.

The whole experience is delightfully smooth and the suspension works well with the weight of the car and huge 23-inch diamond-turned alloys while absorbing the questionable surfaces and potholes which are part of everyday driving.

The interior finish is sumptuous and the huge seats are as comfortable as you’d expect with loads of footspace and headroom in both the front and rear.

One small point though about access: at normal setting, the raised ride height means it’s quite a step up and a simple grab handle on the A-pillar would be a great help.

The technology is comprehensive and dominated by the curved 13-inch touchscreen which has everything at your fingertips, but it can be tricky to work until you become familiar with its sensitivity – and sometimes lack of it – and its comprehensive menu.

This is a luxury vehicle and not something you would normally associate with serious off-roading, especially with the cream interior of the test car but I did some dabbling in the mud and it’s certainly extremely capable.

It’ll do everything automatically to keep you out of trouble with 360-degree cameras to show where the wheels are pointing, a wading depth of almost a metre and all the traction tricks, you can certainly have some fun in the great outdoors.

Range Rover.
Range Rover.

Range Rover Sport 3.0 Twin Turbo PHEV Autobiography

PRICE: £108,545 (£111,245 as tested)

ENGINE: 3.0 litre 6-cyl petrol plus 1 e-motor

POWER: 510 hp

TORQUE: 700 Nm

TOWING ABILITY: 3000 Kgs (braked)

TOP SPEED: 150mph

0-62mph: 5.4 secs

CONSUMPTION: 326 mpg combined

CHARGING TIME: 60 mins (rapid charger) 5 hours (domestic wallbox)


CO2 EMISSIONS: 20 g/km

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