If you want sleek, look no further; while it might not be a revolutionary new design for 2022, the latest iteration of the Range Rover has all the luxury you’d expect in a high-end off-roader, says Charlie Flindt

Charlie Flindt was invited to test the new Range Rover released this year along with an eclectic mix of guests. Find out how he rates the latest high-end off-roader to hit the market.

All you need to know about the latest Range Rover

These are busy days at Land Rover Towers. The emails and press releases about new models – and new variations of new models – are pouring out almost daily. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them, especially if your priorities in mid-May involve fungicides and straw shorteners on gold-dust wheat. 

Luckily, I spotted the invitation to the big one: the launch of the new Range Rover. And, in another encouraging sign that we’re all done with masks and social distancing, it was a proper one. Boutique hotel, dinner, early start, huge loop around the Bristol Channel, chichi lunch in Clarksonland and home for tea and buns. 

The run up the A34 was brief, as the M4 West beckoned – but it was still enough to see that Land Rover is in rude health; car transporters poured down the opposite carriageway laden with shrink-wrapped SUVs, heading for the docks. “Great Britain PLC at work,” quipped a Land Rover aficionado when I mentioned it to him later. 

Our pre-dinner briefing showed how the world is changing. If you or I were ordering a six-figure car, we’d want test drives, weeks of haggling and a manly handshake to seal the deal. The first online sale of the new Range Rover was made within 20 minutes of the dedicated website going live and in the next 24 hours, a sale was made every nine minutes. Two internet orders were for machines costing more than £200,000. Dinner itself revealed more signs of the times. Among the fellow guests were ‘influencers’ (nope, me neither) and a famous rapper – although I confess I had bought none of his LPs. 

Would the eclectic guest list be reflected in the Range Rover’s styling? Far from it. The early-morning start revealed a row of sleek machines that – if anything – had taken a welcome step back from brashness. There’s a dignified grille, a lack of louvres – save a vestigial feature on the front doors – vanishing door handles and a curious boot lid seemingly based on the Nissan Micra. 

The interior follows the same theme. There’s lots of top-quality materials, plenty of compulsory screens, but nothing that makes you gasp, nothing unexpected. It’s all beautifully put together – the best my fellow driver and I could find to fault was a bank of switches that appeared to flex slightly when used, and I suspect we were being a tad overenthusiastic. 

All this made the first part of our test drive quite uneventful. We headed from west Wiltshire down the M5 to the Severn Bridge, which truly was jaw-dropping in the early sunshine after another wet night. The Range Rover cruised silently and comfortably down the motorway – once again, doing exactly what you’d expect from it. Talk moved from how lovely the interior veneer was to life problems for those of us in our late fifties and beyond. Probably not what Team Land Rover would have wanted, but an indicator of how comfortable the fast road section felt. 

We swapped seats outside Chepstow Racecourse, making the most of the portable loos just over the car park fence (life problems of the over-fifties again) and headed up the dramatic Wye Valley. Once again, we should have been noting the Range Rover’s astonishing stability and sure-footedness on the winding road, but dramatic rock faces and Tintern Abbey provided more distractions. 

At last, we reached Eastnor and the real stuff could begin. Days of heavy rain meant that the off-road course finally presented a challenge – last time I was there, the baked-out ruts were a doddle. There were further distractions: the view from the top of the hill was awe-inspiring, and their shooting strips were way ahead of mine – I’d only just sprayed ours. But concentration was needed, not least because we had a flow of instructions over the radios as to what settings to use. 

And we finally had something to drop our jaws: four-wheel steering, which nudged the back end of the Range Rover brilliantly round the sharp and slippery corners. What a great feature for its realworld use: multi-storey car parking. The hybrid tyres scrabbled for grip occasionally, but the on-board computers had a quiet word and progress resumed. My favourite moment was when the lead vehicle – a Defender equipped with gnarly dude tyres – made a right Horlicks of one feature, had to back out and the convoy was quietly led down a different track. 

Land Rover minions descended on our vehicles with jet washers before we could set off for lunch, heading east this time, up into the Cotswolds. As we negotiated picture-postcard towns and villages, the four-wheel steering kicked in again, proving very handy. Occasionally there seemed a slight delay when getting out of junctions once a rare gap in the traffic appeared, which was slightly unnerving. 

Team Land Rover laid on another magnificent spread in a remote barn conversion, with a celebrity chef brought in from Cornwall to provide the food. I confess I kept my head down; food for me is fuel for the rest of the day, nothing more. Before setting off home, we had a chance to play with the new seven-seater version of the Range Rover, parked tank-like on the lawn. The motorised origami of electrical folding that had to take place to get the seats where you wanted them was something to behold. 

Another traffic jam on the A34 in my Skoda was the perfect place to reflect on the new Range Rover. It is a fantastic beast but, as much as our hosts tried to persuade us otherwise, there’s nothing revolutionary. It’s a continuation of a 50-year five-generation theme: luxury off-road ability. A quote from the pre-dinner briefing came to mind. At an owners’ focus group, someone had said, when asked about the next generation: “Don’t change anything; just make it better.” As another transporter of Range Rovers crawled up the inside lane next to me, I couldn’t help think that Land Rover has followed that advice to the letter.

Range Rover 2022 Autobiography

  • Engine: 2,997cc turbo six-cylinder diesel/MHB
  • Power: 109bhp
  • Max speed: 145mph
  • Performance, 0 to 62: 5.8 seconds
  • Combined fuel economy: 35.6mpg
  • Price: £122,375