What is it?
“Customers want an even more exclusive and luxurious Range Rover now,” so says Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern on his latest creation, the long-wheelbase Range Rover. “People who want cars like this like to be driven.”
Yes, there really are people out there for whom the Range Rover’s sky-high levels of refinement, the silky smooth powertrain, the commanding driving position and sheer breadth of dynamic ability are not the main attractions. They like to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride in the sumptuous interior from one of the seats without a steering wheel in front of it.
And those types of Range Rover customers now have their very own model. The long-wheelbase Range Rover grows 200mm in length over the standard model on which it is based to 5199mm, the bulk of this increase going to rear passengers, who can enjoy an extra 186mm of legroom.
That growth comes by extending the bodyshell in front of the rear wheels, but some subtle styling tricks mean that at first glance you don’t see the extra bulk the extra length brings. The Range Rover’s classic proportions remain intact, in other words.
The car will be coming to the UK in March next year offered with the 4.4-litre SDV8 diesel engine (£102,120) and the potent 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged (£105,840) range-topper we’re testing here. Autobiography trim is the sole offering from launch.
What's it like?
Before we play chauffeur, it’s only right to be chauffeured first, given that’s where most of the long-wheelbase Range Rovers owners will be spending their journeys. They won’t be disappointed.
A standard bench or optional individual chairs feature, either of which can be reclined up to 17 degrees, up from the eight degrees of the standard wheelbase model. There’s all sorts of toys and tricks that can be specced, to, from large TV screens to a front passenger seat that slides all the way forward into the footwell to create a long space you could host an Ashes test match on.
On the move, the ride quality is fantastic, isolating you from broken and rutted town surfaces, and remaining composed and stable on high-speed roads. It’s smooth and comfortable enough in the back to do work, have a snooze, make some important decisions, or whatever folk who like to be driven around do.
Should the owner want to give their chauffeur the night off and drive to, erm, Waitrose, Carluccio’s or the BAFTAs themselves, they’ll enjoy life from the driver’s seat just as much.
The biggest compliment to pay to the car in the way it drives is to say it feels like a Range Rover Supercharged with a standard wheelbase, despite its extra size and weight over an already big, heavy car. The straight-line performance is prodigious, visibility is of course excellent, the handling sure-footed and confidence-inspiring, the car being easily placed in a corner.
Should I buy one?
This is a car that pushes Range Rover fully into Bentley levels of opulence, and a worthy rival to a Mercedes S-class in terms of a car you’d like to be driven in as well as drive.