New 2022 Range Rover is an architectural powerhouse
Tough but refined, the 2022 Range Rover cloaks its athletic abilities and off-road agility beneath a sharp suit informed by a modernist approach
Land Rover has taken the wraps off the 2022 Range Rover, its latest and most complex Range Rover model to date. It’s been nine years since the fourth generation Range Rover was launched, arriving in a sector that it had practically all to itself. In 2021, there’s a very different landscape in the world of luxury SUVs. Rolls-Royce, Maybach, Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Mercedes, and even Ferrari, are all vying for attention in this most prominent, highly conspicuous market segment.
Range Rover was there first, pretty much, with the first model dating back to 1969 and existing in glorious isolation for decades. That 50-year heritage still serves as a bulwark against its competitors: Range Rover is ‘the original luxury SUV’, the company proudly states. It’s also one of the few cars explicitly informed by a ‘modernist design philosophy’, an approach that tallies with what Professor Gerry McGovern, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief creative officer, has been telling us all along: classic modernism is the best modernism.
2022 Range Rover
So, has the fifth generation, 2022 Range Rover got the technical chops to match up to the image, or is this familiar machine undergoing something of a mid-life crisis? Stylistically, this is an evolution, not a revolution. The Range Rover’s bluff but buff lines have become more pavilion- and yacht-like than ever before, eschewing conventional automotive detailing or traditional curves in favour of chamfered edges, crisply stamped panels, and a purist delineation between glasshouse and body.
The most notable departure is at the rear, where a new light treatment makes the most of LED technology to reshape the car’s trademark split tailgate as a strong, almost abstract graphic element. Function is almost completely concealed, a bit like how the stern of superyachts can conceal all manner of folding docks and platforms. Appropriately enough, the company calls this feature a ‘sweeping boat tail’.
Is this the first truly minimalist motor car? McGovern and his team have chased every spare millimetre in the quest for seamless shut lines, and precise transitions between roof to glasshouse to shoulder. It’s certainly minimalist in the mould of Claudio Silvestrin or Glenn Sestig, in that its pared-back forms are in no way a concession to ease of construction or modesty of materials.
This is a luxury car. Granted, there are innovations, like the new Ultrafabrics and Kvadrat wool-blend upholstery as an alternative to leather. The dashboard, 13.1in touchscreen and wood-clad centre panel convey a domestic warmth, not a performance-focused cockpit. But true to form, the new Range Rover cloaks its athletic abilities and off-road agility beneath a sharp suit.
There’s also a lot of new communications technology on board, from the integration of Amazon Alexa to the optional rear-seat 8in control screen (in addition to the rear-seat entertainment screens). The car is festooned with cameras, which are supported by a set of manoeuvring lights designed to light up dark country lanes and fields for a better view through the 3D Surround Camera system. Given the right sized spot, you can command the 2022 Range Rover to park itself, or squeeze into tight spaces, even if you’re not in the car.
The rear view mirror flips between a traditional mirror and a digital screen, while the company’s innovative ClearSight Ground View system effectively gives you a ‘transparent’ bonnet, showing the terrain beneath the mighty prow on the main display screen for careful negotiation of off-road pitfalls.
Perhaps surprisingly, the new Range Rover still comes with a full set of engine options, from diesels all the way through to plug-in hybrid. It’s a sign of how many of the car’s key markets and customers still haven’t made the necessary shift to minimise their emissions. The plug-in models will take you up to 62 miles in electric mode, which is much better than nothing, but if you can hang on until 2024, you’ll be able to buy the first fully-electric Range Rover, which in a sense will be a much more significant milestone. The first wave of electric 4x4s are already here, and proving themselves especially adept at one of the Range Rover’s core skills, off-roading.
For the first time, the Range Rover will be offered with seven seats, a welcome dose of practicality that makes sensible use of the car’s immense size. There’s also a Long Wheelbase body, available right from the outset, as well as a special Launch Edition with an enhanced package of optional extras.
For now, seekers of extraordinary feats of performance will have to plump for a new twin turbo V8, which provides enough grunt to get this titanic machine to 62mph in an indecent time of around 4.4 seconds. Expect the EV to be quicker.
Launching a new flagship when the chips are down is not ideal. In the face of global silicon supply shortages, car makers around the world are having to throttle production of their tech-heavy products. Land Rover is no exception. We’ll reserve judgement on how the new Range Rover behaves both on and off the road until we get a chance behind the wheel. For now, look upon this behemoth in wonder. Perhaps the auto industry could do with a bit more modernist restraint at every scale. §