In Land Rover’s new model hierarchy, Range Rover is now its own sub-brand, focusing on luxury while retaining that go-anywhere ability the company has always been renowned for. Within this sub-brand, the ultimate version has always been the one without any suffix – called simply the Range Rover. At 4,972mm, it may be huge, but it doesn’t bother with seven seats; in fact, top variants have just four. It’s all about luxury, and to that end, it’s easily a match for the likes of a Mercedes S-class. However, the big Range Rover has been given a suffix – LWB or Long Wheelbase – and it’s so much more than just a new variant.
Would you just look at the size of it! At 5,199mm, it dwarfs just about every other car on the road, and with the air suspension raised to off-road height, you can easily have a casual chat with the bus driver next to you at the lights. Almost all of the added length has gone into the wheelbase, specifically the area between the front and rear seats, and the result is 186mm or 7.3 inches of additional rear legroom. Swing open the massive but surprisingly light rear door and – after you’re greeted by the motorised foot step that emerges from under the car – it seems like there’s a lot more room than the numbers suggest. Once you’ve fallen back into the seat, it’s clear you’re never going to be wanting for space. The front seats are miles away, and if that’s not enough, the front passenger seat can be sent further still with the touch of a button.
More space than your living room. Massive windows give a superb view out too.
The car we have is a Vogue spec – the lowest you can go on a Range Rover, but in a car like this, even the base model can’t be called basic. It means, among other things, that it gets a bench seat rather than a pair of executive chairs, but it’s still one of the most comfortable places we’ve ever sat in. It will still recline – albeit not as much; the leather is wonderfully soft and the cushioning is just right. You sit nice and high with a low window line that gives you a majestic view outside.
Choosing the top Autobiography trim will get you better front seats (greater adjustment and a massage function), larger rear entertainment screens, a better Meridian hi-fi system – 825W versus 380W – higher-grade aniline leather and 20-inch wheels. In case you’re wondering, the ones on this car are 19-inchers; don’t they look tiny?
What you do get with the Vogue is JLR’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel – something you don’t get on higher trims, where a V8 petrol or diesel are your only options. We’ve lauded this motor in other cars for its power, smoothness and refinement, but for the first time, it feels slightly out of its depth. It may have 244bhp and 61.1kgm of torque, but it has more car to haul around. The result is a touch of lethargy before the turbo comes in, which, if you spend a lot of time in traffic, is something your chauffeur will have to get used to. Once past about 1,900rpm though, the motor has enough punch to pull the big Rangie along smartly, if not briskly.
V6 a tad overwhelmed. Get a V8 instead.
All the other Range Rover strengths remain – a superbly luxurious cabin, incredible visibility, serious off-roading capability (which we haven’t sampled yet), that wonderful, all-electric split opening tailgate, a full-size spare and a regal imperiousness no other car can match. It also suffers from a few problems, like the infotainment and instrument cluster screens, which feel a bit dated and slow to respond now. And, of course, manoeuvring 5.2 metres of car has its own set of challenges. Many modern high-rises don’t have parking slots that big.
If the standard-wheelbase car was targeting Mercedes and Audi, this one is clearly going after Bentley and Rolls-Royce. At Rs 2.18-2.74 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi), the prices are certainly getting close. The LWB does deliver on the luxury front, not just when it comes to creature comforts and quality, but also on ride comfort. Yet, we do feel that for about Rs 11 lakh less, the ‘regular’ Range Rover does everything and still has more than enough legroom for most. If you simply must splurge on the LWB, a word of advice – skip past the Vogue and the V6, and go for the full-fat Autobiography. You’ve earned it.