Pottering about town, in Mumbai’s infamous traffic, I noticed the Range felt a whole lot more compact to drive than the previous generation.
Driving the Range Rover 3.0 Diesel
The 3.0-litre diesel engine puts out 346 BHP and 700 Nm of torque. It’s mated to 8-speed automatic transmission:
While the 5th generation Range Rover continues with a similar shape to the previous gen on the outside, the inside is a completely different story. Climbing into the driver’s seat (literally climbing since this car didn’t have electric footsteps), it suddenly feels like you are a couple of generations ahead of the previous model. While it still feels familiar in a way, there are so many touch points that are more modern and sleeker. Looking out of the windshield does feel like a Range Rover in the way one can see the full bonnet and in general the good visibility all around. This really is a very large vehicle! We were driving the D350 engine which is a 346 BHP diesel, there are also other petrol and diesel options. The top of the line is a BMW-sourced 4.4 V8 with mild hybrid tech producing 606 BHP, which replaces the earlier 5.0 V8 Supercharged.
Upon pressing the start button, the 6-cylinder diesel started into a barely audible hum. I knew instantly the refinement in this Range was going to be a level up. Another thing I instantly noticed was how good to touch pretty much every material was. From the buttons to the leather roof lining, it all had a sense of quality that is somewhat comparable to the competition at the current price point.
Pottering about town, in Mumbai’s infamous traffic, I noticed the Range felt a whole lot more compact to drive than the previous generation. It no longer felt like a mini school bus per se. The humongous size of the Range Rover had shrunk around me making driving it in traffic surprisingly easy. The rear wheel steering is a godsend for the sharp turns and especially U-turns. What may have required a 5-point turn is now done with a 3-point turn.
Another factor that helped the Range Rover feel more agile, was the fact that the base diesel engine (for India at least) no longer felt just adequate. It was somewhat peppy and didn’t require much effort to accelerate a bit more to overtake someone or to close a gap. The 6-cylinder diesel also has a mild hybrid system, and I’m sure that helped add a bit of pep in the above situations. With 346 BHP and 700 Nm on tap, if one puts their foot down, the behemoth actually does manage to give the passengers a slight shove into the back of their seats. Out on the open road too, the diesel can be played around with a bit, and it doesn’t disappoint. Slowing down and getting back to cruising speed is reasonably easy, and it isn’t annoying to try and drive it rather enthusiastically, though I am sure the V8 would be far more fun.
The transmission is the tried and tested ZF8 which doesn’t need much to be said about it. JLR has done a decent job with the tuning in this iteration, and it is smooth when it’s supposed to be and also sporty when one demands it. A far cry from the confused jerky transmission tuning done by JLR in the Jaguar XE we drove years ago. Still not up to the wizardry which BMW pulls off with the ZF8.
One of the things which I really liked about the older Range Rover, was the absolute tank-like feel it provided. Especially once the speed picked up it would just swallow any roads presented to it. Unfortunately, my personal opinion is that the feel is now gone with the newer Range Rover. It does have a bit more body movement (feels a bit busier) and does get upset ever so slightly with bad patches. There was also a bit more interior trim noise. I’m certain the ride was somewhat spoiled by the 22″ wheels this car was riding on, and with smaller wheels, the ride would certainly improve. Small and medium bumps are taken with absolute ease without a second thought. It continues to be a vehicle one can drive on our terrible roads absolutely without stress. Larger bumps do let a thud into the cabin and are felt, but the suspension still does feel extremely refined. The Range does, on the whole, make for a very relaxing vehicle to drive, helped largely by the compliant suspension. I drove it to Pawna and then to Karjat (on internal roads) before returning to Mumbai, something which I probably wouldn’t have the patience to do in any other vehicle. On the smaller town and village roads, the uneven bits of the roads were just eaten up easily though I did have to slow down a bit more than I would have wanted for the rough patches. Even the funny-designed rural speed breakers were taken in a very pliant manner, I have to add. So, while the overall suspension setup is a level up from before, it misses out on the tank-like feeling. Also, one must opt for the 21-inch wheels if there is a bit of driving on slightly more rural roads, while the 22-inch wheels are fine for the more blingy look if the usage is mainly inside the city.
The handling is well-controlled, and one can hustle the big Range along like it’s no one’s business. Thanks to all the chassis trickery, and the rear wheel steering it is quite easy to cover ground very quickly in this. The handling is very neutral, and the steering feel is accurate. Body roll too is well-controlled relative to the size and height of the vehicle. Unlike the previous Range Rover we tested, I didn’t manage to take this even remotely off-road. The 22″ wheels had me worried, and I didn’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere with a cut sidewall. I did take it on some dirt trails and played around a little on rough roads, and it handled them with aplomb. Though considering the Range Rover is very similar to the Defender in terms of off-road equipment I think it will be very capable to those who dare to take this 3.5 crore+ vehicle off-road.
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