- Doors and Seats
5 doors, 5 seats
4.4TT, 8 cyl.
- Engine Power
Petrol (95) 11.8L/100KM
8 Spd Auto
5 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
The new Range Rover is only the fifth new-generation car since 1970. It carries a heavy legacy, and has a tougher fight than ever ahead of it, but new levels of luxury and technology should see it thrive, as Mike Duff discovers.
- Effortless progress
- Amazing refinement
- Strong V8 performance
- Throttle calibration in the V8 doesn’t feel finalised
- Rear end styling will take some getting used to
- Off-road prowess yet to be explored
New Range Rovers don’t come along very often and are big news when they do.
The 2023 Range Rover is only the fifth generation since the first one came came out in 1970, the original doing much to establish the recipe for what would become the all-conquering trend of the SUV. Yet the new version, distinguished from the others by its L460 design code, is facing a market far tougher than any of its predecessors.
For proof think back to 2012, when the last Rangie was launched. The L405 had its part of the world pretty much to itself. The Porsche Cayenne overlapped with it on price, but had a very different dynamic mission and likely audience. The Mercedes GL was a crude bus by comparison, the Audi Q7 a high-riding minivan. It really didn’t have any natural rivals.
That’s categorically not the case now. Bentley, Aston Martin and even Rolls-Royce have all launched their own luxury SUVs, all inspired in large part by the success enjoyed by the more expensive versions of the Range Rover. Which is why the new one faces a level of competition unknown to any of its ancestors.
Given the success of the previous L405 Range Rover, there is no surprise that much about the new car is familiar. Front end design is clearly linked, although the L460 gets narrower headlights allowed by standard LED projector technology. The side-on profile is similarly similar, with a lengthy rear overhang, vents inset into the front wings, and a gently falling glass line.
Physical presence is also delivered by its sheer size – even the regular-wheelbase Range Rover is 5052mm long, with the long-wheelbase version increasing that to 5252mm.
There are differences too – the glazing integrates seamlessly into door frames, and like the Evoque and Velar, the Range Rover has invisible door handles that power themselves away when not in use. The back end is most changed, with narrow, upright tail-lights that seem to be linked by the full-width trim strip that runs across the tailgate. On first impressions it looks a bit cartoonish – I can’t be the only one to see a sci-fi helmet – but I suspect it will inspire a host of imitators.
|2023 Range Rover|
|Seats||Four or five SWB
Four, Five or Seven LWB
|Boot volume||725L to second row, 1841L to first row SWB
312L to third row, 713L to second row, 2601L to first row LWB
The cabin is less radical on first impressions. It is roomy, well-finished and packed with kit. But Land Rover’s design team have also found themselves grappling with the biggest challenge faced by all top-end carmakers: no touchscreen feels as nice as a well-weighted analogue switch.
Land Rover has dropped its former dual-screen system, which always felt slightly unintuitive, and replaced it with a new 13.1-inch central touchscreen running JLR’s smart new Pivi Pro UI. The display is crisply rendered and the system works cleanly. But there is no tactile joy to be found in its operation, even with the clicky haptic feedback turned on.
At least there are physical rotary heating controls positioned under it, these incorporating mini digital displays. There is also still a pop-up rotary selector for the various Terrain Select dynamic modes.
Engine choice is set to include plenty of variety. There will be two versions powered by JLR’s six-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine, badged as D300 and D350, plus a six-cylinder Ingenium petrol in the P400 – all of these featuring 48-volt mild hybridisation.
Slightly beyond this first wave there will be two plug-in hybrids carrying P440e and P510e branding, and offering up to 100km of EV range under Europe’s WLTP testing protocol. On top of the pile is the P530 with a new 390kW V8. Actually, make that ‘new to Land Rover’, this being the company’s first use of BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 as a replacement for the old 5.0-litre supercharged unit.
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The luck of the draw at the media launch in California gave me the chance to drive two of these – the D350 and the P530 – a pairing that effectively demonstrated the range’s broad spread of talents.
Diesel might be on the way out, but there’s no disputing how well a brawny oiler suits a car like this. The D350 is excellent, lacking the muscular soundtrack of Land Rover’s old V8 diesel, but with more mid-range urge and greatly improved refinement.
The huge 700Nm torque peak is available from just 1500rpm, this allowing the standard eight-speed auto ‘box to hold onto higher ratios rather than immediately downshifting when extra acceleration is requested, with changes arriving impressively smoothly when they do come. The diesel is no revver, giving up at a modest 4200rpm when left to its own devices, but it suits the car really well.
|At a glance||2023 Range Rover|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
That’s because the rest of the Range Rover’s dynamic character is similarly laid-back. Air suspension proved pillowy soft over bumps, using considerable wheel travel to fill dips and absorb impacts, with the adaptive dampers working effectively to stop secondary harmonics from developing.
There was a fair amount of lean under cornering, which was surprising given the standard fitment of a 48-volt active anti-roll system, but Land Rover obviously reckons a softer set-up suits the car better than trying to stay flat under lateral loads would. Rear steering is also standard from launch, this able to turn the back wheels by up to 7.3 degrees and significantly improving manoeuvrability.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.6L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||7.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||65L|
The new Range Rover is a tidy handler, but not one that tries to match cars like the Cayenne or Lamborghini Urus on athleticism. Steering weight is light, and although the responses behind it are generous, the D350 felt its size and weight over some of NorCal’s twistier roads; excessive enthusiasm in tighter turns had the front nudging wide and even produced some inelegant squeal from the launch car’s U.S.-spec Pirelli Scorpion all-season tyres.
The brake pedal is similarly generously boosted by an electric servo, but it is still easy to modulate when trying to make chauffeur-spec stops. And refinement is excellent. I was going to criticise a small amount of wind rustle at 120km/h, until I realised the only reason I noticed it was the complete lack of any other distractions.
|Key details||Range Rover P530 First Edition|
|Engine||3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel (D350)
4.4-litre V8 turbo petrol (P530)
|Power||258kW @ 4000rpm D350
390kW @ 5500rpm P530
|Torque||700Nm @1500-3000rpm D350
750Nm @ 1800rpm P530
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque converter automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||103.0kW/t D350 SWB
150.9kW/t P350 LWB
|Weight||2505kg D350 SWB
2585kg P350 SWB
Switching into the P530 increases performance and changes the soundtrack, but doesn’t deliver a dramatic transformation in the rest of the driving experience. The BMW V8 feels like a definite step on from the old supercharger unit, with snappier responses and less sensation of being nailed to an XL flywheel.
At lower speeds it lacks the 5.0-litre’s muscular soundtrack, the top end of the throttle pedal’s long travel giving no aural clues there is a V8 up front. But pushing harder on the accelerator brings some raspier harmonics, although the engine never becomes loud. The launch V8s also had a tendency to snatch slightly when being powered out of junctions; one of very few areas where the new car felt less than perfectly optimised.
But there’s no arguing with the seriousness of the performance on offer. A 4.6sec 0–100km/h time is just a tenth behind the figure for the Range Rover Sport SVR, which currently holds the record for the fastest-accelerating Land Rover of all time.
One thing missing from the drive in California was any chance to test the L460 off-road. Land Rover launches traditionally include a trip into something approaching wilderness, but the toughest challenge this time was a moderately graded gravel track I reckon that a front-wheel-drive Evoque could have conquered without drama.
Testing the multitude of off-road modes, and making the most of the 295mm of ground clearance available with the air suspension in its fully raised mode, will have to wait for another time.
First impressions of the new Range Rover are those of a car with a huge amount of confidence. One that seems set to remain on top of its pile thanks to its combination of luxury and utility. The L460 doesn’t have the honed athleticism of performance-focussed rivals, but it doesn’t need it.
On the basis of first impressions, this is a car that is going to remain the segment benchmark – the car that others in this segment get judged against. Rivals may offer grander and more exclusive badges, but the Range Rover still feels like the class of this field.
2022 Land Rover Range Rover P530 First Edition Wagon
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity
Our bloke in the UK has been writing about cars since the late ’nineties, and served time on the staff of CAR, Autocar and evo magazines. These days he combines his duties for Drive with being European Editor for Car and Driver in the ’States. He loves automotive adventures and old Mercs, sometimes experienced together.