Jaguar Land Rover produced the UK launch of the decade last night by revealing the new, fifth-generation Range Rover in the entirely appropriate surroundings of the Royal Opera House’s intimate, classy Linbury Theatre.
It wasn’t as big an event as they’ve staged in the past, and all the better for it. There were few surprises about the running order, either: canapés and bubbly among the celebs in the foyer from 7:30, then we all filed into the theatre at 8:30 (your seating depended on the colour of your wristband) and sat briefly through a musical intro and drum roll before CEO Thierry Bolloré stepped onto the stage for a brief intro. Refreshingly, he neither tried to embrace Britishness (leaving that to the car) or to claim any credit for the creation of a vehicle that’s been six or seven years in the making. Instead, he made warm remarks about the creators of a genre of vehicle he’s admired almost all his life.
Group creative director Gerry McGovern stepped out to do his usual: defining modern luxury for us in case we hadn’t heard it before. In fairness, some hadn’t. Then the first of two covered cars was dramatically unveiled – and despite the fact that we thought we knew what to expect, the effect was dramatic.
This new Range Rover, at least viewed from where I was, is a truly magnificent thing. The outgoing model had all the same major characteristics – falling roofline, rising belt, floating roof, clamshell bonnet, a total absence of fussy styling – but this new one is just better by an enormous margin. Then the sportier SV was unveiled, a great thing as well, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the classic model.