2023 Range Rover SV first drive review
In a delicious irony for a market that’s as price sensitive as India, the higher you price your car the more demand it generates. Mercedes- Benz, the bellwether for the luxury car segment, grew overall volumes by 13 per cent in the first half of this year, but their so-called top end vehicles like Maybachs and AMGs grew by a whopping 54 per cent. While overall BMW volumes went up by a modest 5 per cent, their luxury portfolio rocketed by 128 per cent. The Indian luxury car market is in fact set for its best ever year with annual volumes projected to hit 47,000 in 2023 thanks to every player logging impressive growth numbers. Volvo clocked 33 per cent, Audi a whopping 97 per cent, but bragging rights for the biggest jump – 102 per cent – goes to JLR assisted by a 209 per cent growth in demand for the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Defender. While this is on a lower base, JLR’s total volume of 1048 units putting it in fifth just behind Volvo, the fact that these three account for 78 per cent of JLR’s order book gives you an idea of where demand lies – way, way, way above a crore of rupees.
And a couple of layers above that stratosphere sits the Range Rover SUV, priced at a staggering Rs 4.17 crore. That’s Bentley territory! Nothing that Mercedes sells in India – no Maybach, no G-Class – comes anywhere close in terms of pricing. You could call it overambitious but demand (relatively speaking, of course) is there! There’s a waiting period for it! Let’s dive right in. For Rs 85 lakh more than a regular (regular being a relative term, of course) long-wheelbase Range Rover, Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) will personalise the Range Rover however you’d like. Our test example had achingly beautiful bronze elements on the side gills, framing the grille, a hint aft of the C-pillar, smatterings on the tail gate and all matched to the roof colour and the inserts on the optional 23-inch wheels. Those ginormous wheels necessitated a fervent request, in writing, to not take the SV off-roading – and that’s a perfectly reasonable ask. No customer will ever take their Rs 4 crore SUV off-roading, and by extension no journalist should either, though the RR does retain all the terrain modes and will raise the suspension to a whopping 294mm ground clearance which gives a mad 900mm water wading ability. More to the point the air suspension lowers the body by a further 50mm in access height mode so owners will not pull a hamstring while climbing into the rear quarters (there’s no pop-out running board any more).
Settle into the rear and you will notice the larger 13.1-inch (from 11.4-inch) screens for your entertainment. There’s a table that electrically rises out of the centre console in this (optional) SV Signature Suite 4-seater configuration. Press another button on the touchscreen between the seats and the cup holders – aluminium cup holders! – slide up to present themselves. Another button and a compartment slides open to reveal a champagne fridge. There’s of course an impressively massive sunroof, 1600-watt 32-speaker Meridian Signature sound system and environmentally conscious upholstery but the SV also unlocks an even greater selection of colour and trim options including the white ceramic that replaces the metallic trims on the inside of this car – an acquired taste if you ask me. Press more buttons and the Executive Comfort Plus seats recline, massage, heat and cool your backside while ottomans support your calves and the space in this long wheelbase configuration (you can also get the SV in the regular wheelbase) is just absurdly enormous. You even get throw pillows that you can hold on to while reminiscing about how you made all this money.
All that money gets you a whopping massive 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from BMW which sounds absolutely awesome on the inside. There’s a distinct and very faintly sporty growl on start-up that is never intrusive, never too much, just a perfectly-judged uber-luxury sound of money-money-money that’s piped through the speakers. I love it. It warms the cockles of your heart and urges you to whip out the Black Amex.
Step on it and this land yacht accumulates speed at a breathtaking pace for something so massive, 523bhp dishing out 100kmph in 4.7 seconds. Drag races, however, are not the main intent. Neither are lap times because this thing rolls so much, even in Dynamic mode, that the 40-profile tyres fold alarmingly on its sidewalls and the brakes start to smoke with the ESP working overtime. No sir, what you do is call upon the services of the 750Nm of torque to make spectacularly epic progress, dishing out overtakes without even trying, making things ridiculously effortless, and just wafting down the road imperiously. What you will need to watch out for are sharp ruts in the road that the 23s together with the air suspension, thwack into quite audibly while also delivering a bit of side-to-side shimmy. I suspect our test example already had one too many of them, the thwacks now being accompanied by creaks from the interior trim. A Maybach, even the i7, does a better job of isolating you from the world outside.
And so begs the question, why would you pick this over said Maybach? For starters, nothing this side of Bentley screams money like a Range Rover, and with the SV exclusivity is all but guaranteed what with the 1.6 million ways in which you can configure and personalise it. In fact the example you see on these pages costs not Rs 4.17 crore but has been optioned up to a staggering Rs 5 crore. You’ll get an Urus for less. And yet, even with that kind of cash burning a hole your pocket, JLR will ask you to be patient, to wait for 12 months, before they deliver you an SV. Higher the price, more the demand, longer the wait times! There’s no business like the luxury car business in India!