Even in its dotage, the entry-level Range Rover might still be all the luxury car you ever wanted. Refined, genteel, capable and a pleasure to drive.

What is it?

Land Rover’s all-new, mild-hybridized, 3.0-litre straight six diesel engine powers two versions of the full-sized Range Rover: the Range Rover D350 (which we reviewed a couple of months ago), and this D300 which now becomes the entry-level version of Solihull’s biggest, poshest 4x4, in as-tested Vogue trim level.

From here, the modern Range Rover lineup rockets up to just short of £180,000 for a long-wheelbase, 557bhp supercharged V8 ‘SVAutobiography’. But so what? Discovering what comes as standard on a bottom-rung, £83,000 Range Rover in 2021 is much more interesting. And it's not cloth trim, ‘workout’ windows and a VM Motori four-cylinder diesel anymore, that’s for sure.

As well as height-adjustable air suspension and the de rigeur permanent four-wheel drive with low range, there’s three-zone climate control, digital instruments, a gesture-controlled powered tailgate and a cooled front armrest cubby for starters. The Range Rover still hasn’t received ‘JLR’’s very latest ‘Pivi Pro’ infotainment system, but the Touch Pro Duo system it does use now has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and also gives you a wifi hotspot and a digital TV tuner for no extra cost.

What's it like?

This lower-end diesel engine gives up 49bhp to the D350 but less than 40lb ft of torque, and in terms of on-road performance it’s less than half-a-second slower and a couple of miles-to-the-gallon more efficient.

On the road, there’s plenty of accessible performance available; compared even to cars with the supercharged V8 models, this version feels really effortless to drive because it so often has all the torque it needs to meet a roll-on performance demand without needing a downshift. When you do need to work the engine harder, it remains smooth and willing beyond 3500rpm; it isn’t exactly sweet to listen to, but it’s an awfully long way from objectionable.

Rolling refinement is very good indeed. So distant is the hum of the straight six at cruising revs, with wind noise being very well suppressed also, that road noise becomes the greatest source of complaint in the car – and it isn’t really one anyone would actually complain about. Our test car had optional 21in wheels and rode on Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tyres, and made just a whisper more road hum than the most refined limousines in the world. With the utmost luxury in mind, there would likely be something to be said for sticking with 20s and the car’s standard rubber.

The Range Rover remains a big car with a certain old-school gentility engineered into its dynamic character: the oversized steering wheel drives a slow-paced rack, and the soft ride lets the car simply wafts its way down the road. Nevertheless it can be driven and placed surprisingly accurately because its controls are so smooth and linear, and so it’s a pleasure to glide serenely onward in it. There also seemed a telling advantage on fine ride control for the D300 we tested compared with a bigger, heavier-engined petrol V8, the former being more level and less disturbed by bigger lumps and bumps on the road than the latter.

Land Rover’s updates to the Range Rover's interior have kept it feeling surprisingly contemporary, despite being so close to replacement. The firm’s glossy touchscreen heater controls integrate very well into the surrounding dashboard design, which is bold and architectural in style. Our test car had a lot of satin chrome and ‘piano black’ trim, as is so fashionable in luxury cars, but deployed it attractively. Even in standard-wheelbase cars, meanwhile, there’s enough space in the back for even taller adult passengers to stretch and sprawl a bit, and the visibility of the world outside from all quarters remains genuinely special.

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Should I buy one?

The very end of a new car's lifecycle is generally thought of as the wrong end to put private money in. There is certainly a fifth-generation Range Rover waiting in the wings for an unveiling at some point in 2021; at which point you'll be able to wipe off an extra few thousand pounds from the residual value of a car that would have been on a fairly steep downward trajectory anyway.

Range Rovers are not cheap - to buy, to run, or simply to admire on your driveway - and it's a fallacy to think that, by buying the bottom-end version, you can do much to mitigate that.

Nevertheless, this fourth-generation Range Rover has aged as well as any I can think of, consistently becoming a better luxury car as the years have passed - and having started very well in the first place, when we recommended this car for a while as the very best luxury car you could buy full stop. Land Rover's new 'Ingenium' diesel straight six is like the icing on a cake that's been in the making since 2012, and it's clearly the pick of the car's engine lineup for anyone who pays for their own fuel (but who perhaps doesn't pay company car tax).

While a £180,000 Range Rover may be appealing to some, it may just as likely be as grotesque as it is irrelevant to others. The more interesting news is, you needn't spend half as much as that to know this car at its very best.


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Add a comment…
BenzinBob 6 January 2021
Whats so difficult to understand? The price at the top is the price of the most basic of Range Rovers..thats why it says 'from £xxxxx'.
si73 6 January 2021
BenzinBob wrote:

Whats so difficult to understand? The price at the top is the price of the most basic of Range Rovers..thats why it says 'from £xxxxx'.

But that's the issue, it's not the price of the most basic version, the cheapest and most basic version is the one tested, if you go on their website and build one, the cheapest is £83k, the one tested, which is far more than the from price at the top of the article. So now do you understand why I asked?

si73 5 January 2021
Hi Matt, can you explain the price from at the top of the article, as the base model is considerably more than this from price, there have been a lot of comments regarding this and no one seems to get its relevance as it never seems to reflect the base price of the vehicle being tested.

This is far more appealing to me than its Velar stablemate, it just looks classier if that makes sense, it's certainly something I would aspire to own, though I know I never will.

typos1 5 January 2021

Get your facts right Matt no Range Rover has ever had a VM Motori 5 cylinder diesel the original was available with a 4 cylinder VM Motori diesel and Land Rovers Storm 5 cylinder diesel was never used in the Range Rover.

Matt Saunders 5 January 2021

You're right - and I've duly corrected above. Many thanks for noticing.