Range Rover LWB
Words: Sirish Chandran
Photography: Gaurav S Thombre
A Rolls-Royce to go off-roading with – that’s what the Range Rover is, at least till Rolls take the wraps off their very own off-roader next year. It might seem like a bizarre requirement, luxury mated to off-road ability, but that has always been the core appeal of the Range Rover and it is only now that Rolls, with the upcoming SUV, and Bentley, with the recently unveiled Bentayga, are elbowing on to its turf. No matter. As of now the LWB Rangie is still the Rolls-Royce of off-roaders. And this is no hollow claim.
With 200mm added to the wheelbase, the Range Rover LWB stretches to 5.2 metres, just 200mm short of the similarly stretched Ghost, and it towers over everything else on the road, Ghost included. It is so tall that the air springs lower the body and running boards whirr out from below the sills to make ingress easier. The sense of occasion of arriving in one is undeniable, and the deeply handsome styling screams money. Actually everything from JLR’s stable is fabulously styled these days – and this triple-XL-sized machine retains those classic Range Rover proportions thanks to subtle styling tweaks that mask the fact that the rear doors are a massive 1.3 metres long. All the extra metal; aluminium in this case, is added between the wheels and that stretches the rear passenger compartment by 186mm.
At the back you get individual chairs that can be reclined by 17-degrees, up from 8-degrees on the regular Range Rover, if there’s such a thing as a regular Range Rover! There is no foot rest that presents itself, from the back of the front passenger seat like on the S-Class, and that’s because when you slide the front seat all the way forward, there’s so much leg room that even six -footers will not be able to reach that footrest. It is so vast you can lay a cricket pitch lengthwise in here, or you could even have a forward facing jump seat for your minions. The driver is sitting so far forward in the cabin that the LWB Rangie presents a strong case for a driver to passenger intercom. There’s so much space … well … you get the drift, I suppose.
This, clearly, is an SUV to be driven around in, hit the massage button, survey the countryside and grab land deals. But we like to drive and I can tell you, behind the wheel, the experience is like nothing else. It may not have the tied-down feel of the S-Class or the waft of the Rolls but sitting on those throne-like seats, at almost the eye-level of truckies, glaring down at lesser mortals in their little cars, is another level of luxury. You get unparalleled visibility and with the edges of the bonnet clearly visible you can place it with inch-perfect precision. It all makes you feel like the king of the world, and I exaggerate not in the slightest. In fact the added size and weight hardly has any negative impact on the dynamics and it remains unshakeable with rather good dynamics – keeping its length and height in mind.
The on-road manners are good enough to qualify it for the Best Car in the World shootout, nearly as good as the S-Class to drive and be driven in. But if there’s one criticism, it is that this LWB trim gets the same V6 diesel and its 245bhp and 600Nm are just not enough to propel it with the authority you’d expect; neither is it very refined and you can hear the engine grumbling away audibly. Which means you use the steering wheel paddles to keep it spinning in the meat of its torque curve and realise the paddles are low-rent plasticky pieces.
Neither of which matters when you turn off the highway; select the correct mode on Terrain Response, engage four-low, lift the suspension and climb the mountain. Sure the longer wheelbase means you might have to be a little more careful but the Range Rover, and I know this from personal experience, will cross deserts and arrive at the ends of the world without breaking into a sweat. It is one of the world’s best off-roaders, and it does this while pampering you in near-Rolls luxury. For its unique blend of qualities it really has no alternative.