Why Gareth Butterfield thinks the current Range Rover is the best car in the world
AS a motoring journalist I’m frequently asked what I think the best car in the world is. It’s not an easy question to answer. For instance, if I wanted a car to blast along my favourite B road in, I’d probably choose a Ferrari 355. For all-out showing off it’d be a Lamborghini Countach; to carry my mates around in absolute luxury I’d opt for a Rolls Royce and if I needed to drive to the top of a Welsh mountain I’d pick a Land Rover Defender.
But rather than give such a long-winded answer I’d usually just tell whoever’s asking that the best car in the world is a Range Rover.
It’s a counter-productive default choice, because I usually have to explain why I haven’t chosen the latest McLaren or Ferrari, but it’s an easy thing to explain. Put simply, the Range Rover is brilliant at just about everything. It always has been, and it still is, the ultimate all-rounder.
If you want a car to go mud-plugging in then, obviously, it’s ideal for that. If you want a car to move a wardrobe with then it’s cavernous. It’s absolutely one of the best choices. Lugging people around in absolute luxury is also one of its strengths. And then there’s the ride and handling. Sure, it’s no Lamborghini, but it’s surprisingly good in the bends and even the basic V6 diesel engine is very punchy.
I’ve driven every version of Range Rover that’s been launched and it’s been a treat to see its evolution from a relatively luxurious darling of the agricultural and equestrian set, to a car that represents the last word in luxury and versatility.
The latest Range Rover, which was updated a little last year, brings with it some tasty upgrades, including a new digital display for the climate control system, which works in tandem with the new dual-touchscreen infotainment setup.
There’s also some posh new “Pixel” headlamps with 144 LEDs, heated and cooled seats which adjust in 24, a new grille and bumper, and some other delicious styling tweaks.
The Range Rover might be at the top of its game, and packing in more clever technology than it ever has (the list is endless) but there’s also more competition than ever before.
Audi and BMW have recently got in on the stupidly luxurious SUV act. Bentley and Rolls Royce both do big luxo-off-roaders and Porsche has been nipping at its heels for a while.
But the Range Rover has a sense of effortless style and elegance that the rivals can’t hope to match. It’s a sophisticated automotive icon with a pedigree and a Royal seal of approval. It will always, for me at least, be the better car.
Not that it’s resting on those laurels, of course. The facelift has also brought the Range Rover’s drivetrain options bang up to date, too.
There’s now a P400e plug-in hybrid, which pairs a 296bhp, four-cylinder petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor for 64g/km of CO2, a claimed 101mpg and 31 miles of all-electric range.
This replaces the reasonably unloved SDV6 non plug-in Hybrid, and then there’s the usual V6s and V8s in petrol and diesel units available.
If you really like your Rangie with a bit of fire in its belly you can also opt for the potent 557bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine. But you’ll obviously need deep pockets.
All the engines are linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive with Land Rover’s excellent Terrain Response technology, which seamlessly switches from mode to mode and controls the height of the vehicle.
There are downsides to Range Rover ownership, of course. Firstly, parking is tricky. It’s available with a full suite of cameras and I’d recommend ticking that box because it can make all but the very biggest supermarket car parking spaces feel very tight.
The other obvious downside is cost. A basic Range Rover will cost at least £80,000 and ticking option boxes can quickly send that skywards. You really need to set aside a six-figure sum for a decent spec and the appropriate level of gadgets and styling tweaks.
So you’re looking at supercar money for a Range Rover these days, but I would argue it is a super car in every sense of the word.
If I was stocking up my dream garage it’d be the first car on my shopping list. I don’t care how good the latest Bentley, Audi or BMW is, the Range Rover does everything a little bit better. And it does so much, in fact, that it’s simply all the car you’ll ever need.