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Range Rover First Edition review – Effortless excellence

When in the line of reviewing, usually, a car becomes just another car after a few days of living with it, but every so often one rolls along that doesn’t lose its charm.

The new Range Rover is one of those special examples.

Authoritatively clandestine

The Range Rover is currently the only contender in the design category for the 2022 World Car of the Year awards, and if I was given the opportunity, I would throw all my weight behind it.

The SUV looks like it exists purely out of simple lines and flat surfaces. Granted, this was where the design started, but study it closely and you see a new crease on this corner, an intricate pattern on that one, a subtle and sublime curve you haven’t seen before.

The next time you look at it, these details are gone, blended in, awaiting to reveal themselves again at a later date to equal amazement.

Even so, it’s not as flashy as its competitors – think Aston Martin DBX, Bentley Bentayga and, in a lesser sense, Rolls-Royce Cullinan – who can’t fly under the radar even if they were invisible.

The Range Rover demands authority wherever it goes with its monolithic and graceful structure, but keeps a clandestine appearance that has you wondering whether its passenger is a rich athlete, or a more unsavoury character who is reluctant to disclose how they afforded it.

A bespoke experience for all 

Did I mention the Range Rover is also in the running to be crowned as the luxury car of the year for 2022?

There are other competitors that, at least on paper, offer comparable abilities and features, but in practice, they are not the same.

In this premium tank, you’re not paying for the convenience of having electric seats. You’re paying for the luxury of having seats that adjust in 24 different ways to caress every unique curve of your body. If you want the headrest one centimetre further forward, you can do it. When you want a firmer right bolster but a gentler left bolster, that’s possible. Maybe you’re after more lower back support but less shoulder cushioning, and that is exactly what you’ll get, and more.

You don’t have to move the luggage parcel yourself, the car does it for you. Is the boot too high? There’s a button to lower the whole backside of the SUV. Is it difficult to climb in? There’s an electronic step that conveniently disappears again once the door is closed. The door didn’t close completely? No worries, the Range Rover’s soft-close feature will finish the job.

Prefer to listen to your own music, or none at all? Each occupant gets their own mute switch and the two at the back are even spoiled with personalised headsets to go along with the HD displays they can plug their computers into.

Don’t like your climate control settings? Change them, the three other passengers won’t even notice. Too hot? There are ventilated seats. Too cold? Heated seats. Stressed? Massaging seats with multiple areas of focus and intensities.

Is your drink too warm? there’s a freezer in the centre console. Drink too cold? Well, don’t get too greedy. Unfortunately, there is no drink heater in the high-end SUV, but hey, they need something to add to the next Range Rover, don’t they?

I could go on for paragraphs about the magnificent Meridian sound system, the rear cabin controls that give passengers nearly as much say as the driver, the Executive Class reclining rear seats that feel like leather-clad sunbeds, or the tailgate event suite with its own Bluetooth speakers, drink holders, and seating for two adults, but I think you get the gyst, the Range Rover focuses on crafting a bespoke experience that makes the journey as enjoyable as possible – for you.

Hot hatch? Ultra-luxurious cruiser? you choose.

The Range Rover is offered with a multitude of powertrains and a fully-electric one is set to join the gallery in 2024.

The D350 test unit featured the “entry-level” 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel engine, and, while it’s the least powerful one in the family, it’s doubtful that the 258kW and 700Nm on offer will be too little for its buyers.

A torque-rich setup like this is a certified boon when lugging around a 2.5-tonne block of leather, glass, wood, and metal – and the benefit of the heavy fuel type is that it’s surprisingly economical, too.

The consumption reading is rather sensitive and a few kilometres of unruly driving will see it rise regardless of how well-behaved you were before. Nevertheless, in normal city traffic we experienced usage of around 11.0l/100km which considering the heft, and the income levels of its buyers, is not bad.

Getting on the open road on the N3 headed to Drakensberg saw it dip down almost immediately and towards the end of our week-long, 1,180km test – which burned through almost two tanks – it stood at an average of 9.5l/100km.

Be that as it may, the first question on a millionaire’s mind probably isn’t fuel consumption, and we’re glad to report that the Range Rover is able to satisfy many more needs

Getting to the magical 100km/h landmark takes the luxurious SUV a meagre 6.1 seconds – compare this to the famous VW Golf GTI’s 6.4 seconds – with firm metal paddles behind the intimidating steering wheel invigorating the sprint.

Not in the mood to embarrass the teenager in their shiny new hot hatch? Great. The Range Rover brings just about one of the most comfortable rides you will find on this side of Mars.

Air suspension has been a staple of the British brand’s crown jewel since 1992, enabling the monumental creation to waft over imperfections without notifying its royal passengers thereof.

Another benefit of the system, specifically in the newest iteration, is perfect steadiness, as the dampers are connected to the navigation system and know exactly how the road looks up ahead, and they react to the many waves and crevices hundreds of times per second to keep the body as level as possible, resulting in this being the “flattest-cornering Range Rover ever.”

Rear-wheel steering up to 7.3 degrees also supplies a peculiar nimbleness, making the vehicle unexpectedly easy to park and place as well as squeeze through tight estate gates.

On the move, the Range Rover is predominantly rear-wheel drive and the ride is sublime, imperceptibly switching over to operating with four wheels when it senses dust or when the driver makes adjustments through a rotary dial on the centre console.

Engine braking is also near non-existent, as drivetrain inefficiencies are so low that the SUV just keeps on running, sometimes even accelerating, after the throttle is no longer pressed.

It’s good to know that it’s still one of the most capable vehicles on the market, too, offering the Terrain Response 2 drive programme, three diff locks, and impressive statistics such as a 900mm water wading depth, but I’ll take Land Rover’s word on this one as no 4×4 track in the world is worth scratching the glorious gold paint.

I can say, though, that the magnificent Rover took on a handful of unkept dirt roads in the Natal province and it was tough to tell that we had actually left the tarmac.

If that wasn’t enough, microphones in the wheel wells listen to ambient noise and play the opposite frequencies directly through the headrests to cancel out unwanted sounds, resulting in an isolated in-car experience that is rivalled by few.

Admittedly, there is the occasional hard bump when you encounter the worst of South Africa’s pothole pandemic – it rolls on low profile, 23-inch wheels after all – but where the average and even above-average vehicles I’ve driven before suffered to keep composed, the Range Rover barely broke a sweat.

@topautosa The new Range Rover is as capable as ever with air suspension and off-road mode! #rangerover #landrover #topauto #southafrica #fyp ♬ Hypnotize (Instrumental) [2014 Remaster] – The Notorious B.I.G.


Every time I saw the R3.5-million Range Rover First Edition in its exclusive Sunset Gold Satin exterior paint (which is a R121,800 option that is only available for the first year of production) it looked different – sometimes better, never worse, but not the same.

Every time I drove it, it was intimidating but encouraging. It’s remarkable how drivable, yet still exceptional, the vehicle can be. Every time I was asked about it, there was more to show and so much more to say.

You expect all of this from a car that costs more than most homes, but it remains difficult to wrap your head around just what vehicles are capable of these days.

The Range Rover is effortlessly excellent in each respect, and for the limited few that will have the privilege of owning one, I truly envy you.

Range Rover First Edition

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