Land Rover vehicles are thoroughly capable, be it on-road or completely off it.
Land Rover has a long history of producing off-road vehicles which can literally go anywhere. The company is the second oldest 4-wheel drive manufacturer in the world, after Chrysler’s Jeep. Over time, the British automaker has evolved into making luxury SUVs without comprising on the original principle of off-roadability. The all new fourth generation Range Rover might be as comfortable and luxurious as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class but it can do something which the former simply can’t imagine, take the less beaten path filled with rock, mud, slush and streams.
The company’s Solihull plant has off-road tracks where vehicles are tested. The company also organizes Land Rover Experience Drives there. We had a chance to experience two different routes and came our mighty impressed with the vehicle’s off-road prowess. The first route was a jungle trail, which had very narrow openings. We were driving the new Range Rover. The complete route was filled with mud, slush, ruts, uphills, downhills, streams, ditches, rocks, etc. We can’t imagine getting onto such a route but the new Range Rover made things very easy.
Turn on the luxury SUV and it settles into a refined idle. Select low-range, put the terrain response system into auto mode and turn on the underbody cameras and you are good to go. The new Range Rover simply glides over rough terrain and piloting the vehicle is effortless. You can see what lies ahead on the centre console placed infotainment screen, with even the steering movement being displayed by a graphical interface. The differentials actively work and you can see them lock and unlock on the go (they keep turning orange and green on the console).
The new Range Rover doesn’t let you feel what terrain you are on. It is simply flawless and you simply steer through the hurdles, the vehicle does the rest. Steep inclines, no problem, the new Rangie keeps going without making you break into a sweat. The Defender on the other hand will make you feel you are doing all the work. It is much less mechanical and is also available with a manual gearbox, so you have to do all the work but the Defender never let’s you down.
The Defender is not as luxurious as the Range Rover but is as capable. While crossing deep streams, some amount of water might make its way to the carpets but the vehicle doesn’t get affected one bit. Even on very narrows paths, both the Range Rover and Defender are easy to manoeuvre thanks to the well weighed steering which has good accuracy. The diesel engined models feel more at home on rough and challenging terrains with higher amount of torque being belted out at lower RPM.
Land Rover also had the electric Defender at the off-road experience, which although not set for production soon, surely looks promising. The vehicle has 800 mm of water wading capacity and produces 330 Nm of torque right from the word go (0 RPM), which is mighty impressive. With 94 BHP of power, the Defender has a paltry range of 80 kms, which will last up to 8 hours when used off-road (since the speeds are low and regenerative brakes are present).
See-saw in the Defender is never an issue even when the height is a good 12 feet plus. The second off-road track was more challenging with several undulations all around. Large craters, insane descends and high wheel articulation were all part of this course. The Defender breezed past but you did feel some effort from your end, having to keep the engine on the boil in the stream with the ride being slightly on the stiffer side.
The Range Rover Evoque had absolutely no qualms in going off-road and did it in style. The baby Range Rover is thoroughly capable and you can’t associate the word soft-roader with this compact SUV. The Land Rover DNA is firmly intact in the Evoque and it too has the company’s much acclaimed Terrain Response System.
High ground clearance, a rugged body and immensely capable, the Defender is easily our choice of vehicle for off-road days. Not only will you come out on top, you also feel you have put in some hard work, which gives immense joy.
We spent around an hour and a half doing off-roading at Land Rover’s Solihull plant in the UK. The experience was fun and we were unsure about tackling everything that is thrown at us. However the vehicles survived and simply dominated these highly challenging terrains. Land Rover’s confidence in its products can be seen, as the company offered all their products to be taken off-road. Even after 65-years since the first Land Rover came out, the British automaker continues to produce vehicles which stay true to the vision of the founder. The SUVs are so well engineered, none of them got stuck and the company tests future vehicles on similar terrain. No wonder, Land Rover offers the best of both worlds.