"The British Have Always Driven on the Wrong Side of the Road.”
Range Rover. Introduced in 1970, it was the world’s first upscale SUV with off-road DNA, the rust of the early years being the only thing that transcended class boundaries. But that was a long time ago. The latest of many evolutionary stages even touts spectacular lap times on the Nürburgring for the current model. Just to give you an idea of the range we’re talking about here.
And just so we get everything right: the car’s full name is and always has been Land Rover Range Rover. Though this previous sentence does contain three typical Rover inaccuracies. Because when the Range Rover appeared in 1970, Land Rover didn’t yet exist, only the Rover brand. It wasn’t called Land Rover until 1978.
“When was the last time the British were this excited about anything?”
Finally, a chance to really go all out for once. But please, do it with style, class and flair. A Range Rover may well dazzle in slush and mud, but any car that has a permanent parking space at the Louvre must also be able to shine in black tie and tails.
During development, the car was known simply as “the 100-inch Station Wagon” in reference to its wheelbase. A prototype in the 1950s had been called Road Rover, the first camouflaged test vehicles were dubbed Velar (which fittingly means “veil” in Italian, though it could also have been the acronym for “V Eight Land Rover”), and finally, after rejecting “Land Rover Ranger”, the universally accepted “Range Rover” was chosen.
“Tired of eating in the same old places?”
Something else that’s worth knowing is that the Range Rover was the first car to be featured in the Louvre, as an “exemplary work of industrial design”. Not a bad parking spot, considering that chief designer Spencer King had intended the design to be merely a stopgap and that he had spent almost no development time on it.
Also interesting is that until 1981 the Range Rover was only built as a two-door model. Possibly for structural reasons, the decision was made not to build a four-door version before that. Another coupe variant wouldn’t be shown until 2018 (though the car was canceled before production even began). And then there was the Stormer concept with LSD, or Lambo-style doors as they’re known in the tuning scene (scissor doors, in case that wasn’t clear). It remained a one-shot deal as well. In any case, Range Rover was no stranger to daring design. And with all this showmanship, the special thing about the Range Rover is that, technically speaking, it is one of the world’s best off-road cars there is.
“Remember the € 184.700,00 you were saving for a rainy day?”
As we all know, there is no such thing as bad weather. Only unsuitable cars. The rain sensor was just waiting for a few drops. And it wouldn’t be a British car if there wasn’t an umbrella holder in the footwell.
The nineties saw an incredible push in terms of technology, with air suspension, an extended wheelbase and 4.2 liters of displacement. Then came the Range Rover II, with an overlap of two years to the Classic. The new design put off the faithful a bit, but it did bring in excellent sales figures. From a technical standpoint, the second generation paid tribute to its predecessor: rigid axles, the same wheelbase, the same air suspension, a greater engine range.
“And you thought your teenagers were rough on a car.”
The third-generation Range Rover was presented at Skibo Castle in 2002. At the open fireplace, brand ambassador Sir Ranulph Fiennes recounted his life as the world’s last living adventurer. (“It’s hard to spot a new challenge these days. So my wife had the idea of traveling around the world – from pole to pole.”) At seven in the morning, a kilted bagpiper – in a tradition started by the estate’s previous owner, industrialist Andrew Carnegie – passed by underneath the windows, as merciless and unstoppable as the Range Rover clawing its way through the mud.
“Introducing the most beautiful vehicle in the world.”
Mud can be ennobling. You don’t have to be a great art lover to appreciate a splatter job like this one. Because the Range Rover is a true connoisseur that enjoys therapeutic mud packs at a crawl. Too bad there’s no one around to sign it.
The new car, a fortress in its own right, now balanced a self-supporting body on an independent suspension. The engines initially came from BMW, later replaced by in-house units.
Generation IV presents itself in a bright and shiny aluminum armor, with a plug-in version, lots of options and individualized editions (Autobiography) as well as an extended vehicle length of almost 205 inches.
“We brake for fish.”
And just in case, after hearing all that, you still think the Range Rover is something like a celebrity sneaker, we’d like to point out that this is the ultimate experience machine in terms of space, luxury, safety and comprehensive on- and off-road capabilities. In other words, an end-to-end package of upmarket expertise for every eventuality, from driving up to the opera house to navigating the mudslide blocking the road. All lavishly packaged in high-tech features such as All Terrain Progress Control, an active limited-slip differential, and air suspension with Dynamic Response.
“You can drive it as if it were your brother-in-law’s.”
“Just follow your nose,” the hut-keeper said. And the nose, as we all know, always points steep downhill. Perfect for the downhill assist system, which can be adjusted in several stages so the Range Rover gently guides us off the mountain, even if our noses are running.
The ride height is always perfectly adjusted. At the push of a button, the air suspension raises the Range Rover to a ground clearance of 11.7 inches. Cameras all around show the position of the wheels – including when submerged. There even is a front-axle wheel position indicator in the main display.
In conclusion, the Range Rover is bolder than any of us could have imagined. It was designed completely against the grain and with the greatest of effort, as if the engineers had been given a hiking boot with the task of turning it into a Prada clutch.
And the great thing about it: they did it!