When the history of the noughties is written, it will be remembered as the decade of bling and luxury brands, as much as the decade the global economy crashed. (Though admittedly it may be that the former are directly connected to the latter).
The arrival of the Range Rover in 2001 was a pivotal moment for a trend that accelerated from handbags to boutique hotels.
The Range Rover defined a new type of luxury. Technically sophisticated, beautifully detailed, modern and yet retrospective. It was an overweening presence, but in way that the majority could admire.
It was also one of the most perfectly judged merging of British style and German technical competence.
BMW Group design Chris Bangle was said to be slightly unsure about the final Rangey design at the Munich bake-off, so called one of his youngest designers outside to make a snap judgment on the four of five full-size models lined-up. The young designer immediately plumped for the British entry, convincing Bangle in the process.
The car’s interior was also another masterful re-invention (again, by a Brit) of conventional interior design, the upright wooden ‘stanchions’ finally giving wood trim an convincing structural purpose.
Under the skin was a German-design steel monocoque platform and much BMW running gear, tweaked and re-worked into offering real hard-core off-road ability.
Nothing quite matches the Rangey’s driving position, or real comfort over distances or its staggering all-terrain abilities. The latest engine updates lift it to new heights.
It is also true to say that the Range Rover enters its second decade as one of the bad guys. A crowing, planet-mashing bully. The favoured transport of Hedge Fund bosses.
It’s all nonsense, of course. A single container ship does more real environmental damage on one run from Hong Kong than all the Range Rovers ever made put together.
The truth is that the Mk3 Range Rover is one of the most original, most singular and most beautifully executed cars ever produced.