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We spend a weekend with the entire Range Rover lineup at a luxury wellness retreat and gain an appreciation for the little things that make Range Rovers special.
How do you wrap your head around a story that’s older than you are? A story so significant, that even fifty years later, it gets retold at even the mere mention of the word SUV. You can start by taking the help of some numbers. The hundreds of thousands of Range Rovers sold for instance, or the fact that the SUV in question is now in its fourth generation. But they can only take you that far.The brief, half a century ago, was simple – build an SUV with the 4x4 capability of the Land Rover but with comfort, practicality and even the demeanour to suit an English lord. Voila, the Range Rover was born. It was 1969. Man had landed on the moon. Over the years the Rangie would gain a cult following and become an icon. But even before pioneering travellers and adventurers would put it to the test, one thing was clear – it was spectacular to look at. The fact was underlined in the early 1970s when the Musée du Louvre in Paris put a Range Rover on exhibition as an ‘exemplary work of industrial design’.
Circa 2019, that Range Rover has spawned four different interpretations – Range Rover, Range Rover Sport , Evoque and most recently, the Velar. Each one of these SUVs share the same DNA but are markedly different. The smallest of the lot, the Evoque, established the current design language that has worked spectacularly and is due for an update early next year. The latest, the Velar, is absolutely stunning; a design icon; a futuristic SUV that makes heads snap wherever it goes. The Sport, meanwhile, borrows its genes from the big daddy Range Rover and, like its name suggests, is the sporty one of the brethren. And then there is the Range Rover that needs no introduction – especially in this long wheelbase version.
This is our first time with all four Range Rovers together, and to better appreciate their DNA, we chalked out a weekend with the fab four. But wait, we didn’t want to do the usual off-road stuff with what are, arguably, the most capable SUVs on the planet. We already know how immensely capable they are. This was going to be a quiet weekend spent in four luxurious SUVs outside the hustle and bustle of the city, poring over the little things that make life that much better. We zeroed in on Atmantan, a luxury wellness resort just outside of Pune, nestled in the lush hills of the Western Ghats. Our plan? Take our new One Plus 7T Pro McLaren edition phones and fire away at the four Range Rovers from close quarters and soak in the details and not get a speck of mud on either of them. I know, it does sound strange but we’re going off-script for a change.
Here were four of the biggest statements in the world of SUVs. In fact, it was the Range Rover that can be credited with inventing the term ‘luxury SUV’. The Bentaygas and Cullinans of the world are mere attempts to mimic what Range Rover has excelled at for decades. And even then, is there something as opulent, as capable while going off-road? No matter what their position in Range Rover’s pecking order, out on the street they all draw eyeballsThe Evoque introduced the world to the stylish compact SUV. The sloping roofline, radical styling and the compact, almost hatchback-like proportions made it an instant hit. The sloping roofline meant that visibility out of the back wasn’t the best but Land Rover had a high-tech solution for that. Turning the rotary dial to ‘R’ turns the Evoque’s rear view mirror into a display for the rear camera. Land Rover’s commitment to ensuring that the Evoque looked the way it does ensured that the engineers had to jump through several hoops just like this. Thankfully, for every automotive enthusiast, they did so and in the process created one of the most desirable small SUVs of the past decade.The full-sized Range Rover is as extravagant as it can get. The sheer vastness of it simply makes large SUVs look like midgets and on the drive to Atmantan from our base in Pune, we experienced first-hand what that means when you are in the driving seat. Pune’s famously unruly traffic made a conscious effort to give way even on the narrow, broken stretches of road. The Range Rover’s unparalleled capability also meant that we didn’t realise we were driving over broken patches of road. And not because we automotive journos have developed spines of steel after hours spent driving off-road. It was because the Range Rover simply wafts over everything.
The Range Rover Sport, on the other hand, takes a different approach. A smaller form factor and an emphasis on agility while retaining all the off-roading chops of its father make it an SUV that finds itself at home on the mountain twisties as much as it does off-road. And none of the luxury trappings that make it special are lost either. The throne-like seats, the padded door sills, all of them are retained to make you feel just as special and just as pampered. No wonder then, a few days spent with these beauties made us feel like royalty alright, much to the chagrin of everyone we met for the next few days. And to the Velar. An SUV so stunning to look at, it drew crowds even in the parking lot of a luxury resort. The smooth, sexy lines and wafer-thin headlamps that catch your eye the first time you look at it never stopped impressing even after living with it for an extended weekend – and I am pretty sure they won’t stop. On the inside too, it is the most tech-heavy of the Range Rovers and frankly, the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system is the grandest infotainment system on any car ever made. Period.Over the weekend, the finer details stuck out as incredible highlights to what were already the world’s finest SUVs. The soothing ambience created by the top-shelf materials used in the Range Rovers mirrored the calm and tranquil state of mind brought about by Atmantan’s focus on our health and all- around well being. It was in such a moment that we stumbled on to something. While a bunch of us thought how cool a name the Velar is, the folks at Land Rover must have had a hearty laugh. The name Velar was first coined by them more than fifty years ago. 40 pre-production Range Rover vehicles were produced and to avoid the media glare, they were all registered under the dummy name of the Velar company. Talk about things coming full circle.
Location Courtesy : Atmantan Wellness Retreat
Photos captured on OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition