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Steering, suspension and ride comfort

The idea of threading a two-plus- metre-wide and five-plus-metre-long car down some of central England’s most winding lanes is not a prospect many drivers would relish. In short, big cars – and double-cab pick-ups are about this big; perhaps a little longer and narrower – can be a pain.

But while there’s no escaping the overall girth of a Range Rover, it is easier to gauge its extremities than in, say, most large Q-flavoured Audis or a G-something Mercedes. The glasshouse is larger than on most big-SUV rivals, which prefer a more road-focused, coupé-ish design stance and a lower driving position.

There’s no escaping the vastness of the new Range Rover. In a way, the feeling of imperiousness it gives you is pleasing, but over the long term, having to constantly check you’re not going to take the side off would erode the feeling of luxury for me

This has the effect of making it harder to see the bonnet edges and also down the flanks of the car– a doddle in the broad mirrors of the Range Rover. This is a car that has to sell the world over, so it still feels overgenerously proportioned for the UK, but poor visibility could have made it worse.

That ability to place it on the road extends to how accurate and responsive its controls and steering are. If you want to place it on the third cat’s eye you can see, you’ll do it; if you want to clip the very inside of a bend to give room for oncoming traffic, you can.

This control is combined with more agility than you might expect given the weight, too. Those anti-roll bars and the air springs mean the Range Rover, if never truly athletic, resists roll and changes direction ably. And around town – or in and out of tight field entrances – the active rear steer makes a big difference to its abilities and a driver’s confidence.

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Comfort and Isolation

Isolation is what the new Range Rover delivers in spades. Partially that will be down to the noise- cancelling effects of the anti-noise it plays through its headrests but also, one suspects, as a result of the sheer hard work that has gone into the physical isolation of the cabin.

At idle, this straight-six diesel Range Rover barely puts any more noise than is ambient into the cabin, and take the at-speed figures under advisement that it was damp under- tyre, which will raise them slightly. In the dry, one of our testers – who records voice notes while driving to refer to later – was surprised to hear himself say “I’m now doing 60mph”, given there was no louder background noise than at 30mph.

We would be surprised if there’s a more isolated car on sale this side of a Rolls-Royce, and if the good people in Sussex ever overcome their reluctance to lend us a Rolls-Royce Cullinan for this exact purpose, perhaps we will find out.

Road surface bumps and lumps are brushed aside with ease. Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t get all aspects of vehicle development equally right, but with the leisurely accuracy and linear response of its controls, and the deftness it gives its cars’ chassis, this is one area where few if any other car makers – especially of big cars like this – quite nail it. A Bentley Bentayga is less cosseting, we’re confident.

Run over surface imperfections or cat’s eyes or expansion joints in the Range Rover and you will hear, but not feel, even on 22in rims, a muffled thud from somewhere in the distance. And yet it doesn’t combine this with uncontrolled float or pitch or wallow. Pleasingly contained body movements are a significant part of a car’s dynamic comfort, and the Range Rover, in this specification at least, gets it absolutely right and proper.

Off-road notes

Those who find that a Range Rover won’t go far enough off road for them will be a lot braver than most owners. Land Rover is like a supercar manufacturer when it comes to off-roading: it knows some owners won’t use the capability but its reputation depends on it being there.

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All of the usual numbers, then, are right up there with class-leading ones. With its air suspension raised fully, at 295mm, it even has 4mm more ground clearance than Land Rover’s own Defender, and 55mm over the Mercedes G-Class. Approach, ramp/breakover and departure angles are all competitive with those two models too, while the Range Rover’s wade depth is a full 900mm.

Just as good, though, is a raft of on-board tech to make using that ability easy, while the rear steer adds a healthy dose of agility on tight track turns. What won’t help it, as in other areas, is a kerb weight pushing two and three-quarter tonnes.