The new, 4th generation Range Rover unveiled in Paris is quite exceptional in many regards. We know it will perform peerlessly and it has to work in new markets, for customers who demand an ever greater level of luxury and refinement. We know it will do all of these things with aplomb. And generally, this is a very well executed piece of design. The detailing, for instance, instantly links it with Evoque and also brings the car up to date. The old car was looking a little tired in this respect. Meanwhile, the belt line has remained mercifully flat, the face is softer, yet still well-resolved and recognisably Range Rover. While the lower feature line gives the car a degree of balance and harmony – even if we aren’t fans, taste-wise of the chrome highlight it creates – which is particularly apparent on the darker-hued cars.
Yet there’s a fundamental proportional change here. The car is sportier. It ‘leans back’ further. The rear overhang is much more obvious. And you sit ever-so-slightly lower – that classic low belt line, relative to your body in the car, is less apparent. To us, that up-rightness, the last vestiges of utilitarianism in the design and the beltline relationship were core to what made Range Rover. They may be tiny things and they may have only been reduced slightly, but we’ve a nagging sense that the regal, really overt British-ness of the last car, has got slightly lost. Blame the Range Rover’s status as a massive export vehicle – one that will sell in greater abundance in Shanghai and LA, than it will in its home market. It’s still a good piece of design, but make no mistake, there’s more than a subtle-shift to this Range Rover’s design than the pictures might first suggest.
By Joe Simpson