Its a cold Monday morning, your thermos filled to the very brim with coffee, and your bag heavy laden with your laptop. You can see your breath condensate with the morning air, as you approach your Range Rover Sport.
Whose reassuringly fast ignition awakens the supercharged 3.0 v6 and settles it at just under 2000 RPM as it warms up. The engine is soon muffled, your music is already playing and the heater is already throwing warm air at you. You select “D” on the leather wrapped shifter and you leave your home; into the wilds of the city.
You open your gates and emerge unto the avenue in the 2.2 ton, 1.8m tall vehicle, the 22" rims and deep black paint make you a person of interest; your steed is oozing presence that only it’s flared arches can give it. You feel like a respected, retired athlete down the road; just showing you kept going to the gym after retiring. You need to turn right, and upon the flick of the turn signal all the traffic gets out of your way.
Because its a huge vehicle, but not only that, it’s a huge vehicle that feels expensive and that Tsuru-wielding taxi driver that just gave you the right of way isn’t interested in participating in a six digit insurance claim. You sip down your coffee and listen to the engine purr ever so gently, only getting glimpses of the supercharger whine now and then; a refined machine this is.
You feel confidence, but did the car really give it to you? or was it the success that led you to it? Because this car truly feels like it doesn’t accelerate, it advances. Plus, it’s a range rover, so it will climb every curbside, and ford every flooded streets that Mexico has to offer to it. You’re almost unstoppable. But its the “almost” that really bothers you.
Because crime is at an all-time high, and your imposing image comes at the price of unwanted attention by those that might want to hurt you. So you take your brand new 100,000 dollar Range Rover and pay 35,000 dollars to some engineers with Colombian accent so that they render said Range Rover truly unstoppable. It will sit for five to six weeks in a warehouse in the industrial area of Mexico City without it’s noise canceling windshield or it’s 22" rims.
Now it will have 300kg added to it, but it feels no sluggish, in fact it feels more luxurious because that thick bulletproof glass and kevlar fibres reduce the road noise and it keeps those wanting to hurt you away: Because they can tell you’re bulletproof, you’ve got nothing to lose, their bullets ricochet even when they take their aim, they fire away, fire away.
Being a nice person, you let a student of engineering drive your steed one day, all 2.5 tons aluminium, kevlar, and polycarbonate of it.
He’s left flabbergasted.
B4 Range Rover Sport: what do I think about it?
WAITING for my friend in what I could only describe as “lazy student” clothes, I sat overlooking the street from my window. The huge vehicle announces its arrival with its amazing, if subtle exhaust. My friend expertly parks by my driveway and I descend into the street, I pull on the heavy bulletproof door, and I get in.
This is all bullshit naturally, I´ve driven Joel’s Range Rover countless times, I seem to be everyone’s car guy, and as such I get to be designated driver often, I’ve driven the Range Rover everywhere. What isn’t bullshit is what that heavy door makes me feel.
That almost old school CLUNK it makes uppon closing, this 2014 black range rover isn’t shy about it’s heft, nah, it embraces it, aluminum chasis and all. But lets talk about the car before we talk about the special mod it has.
This generation range rover is credited with losing anywhere from 400kg to 200kg of weight due to smart use of aluminum on its body panels, at 2.2 tons without bulletproofing, this porker aint fooling anyone, but it does prove a point, as it does weight a couple hundred kilos less than my Jeep. This is where I get my conflict.
My jeep has, coincidentally, a very similar engine output,and is about the same dimensions, yet this Range Rover feels and handles almost car like, the air suspension might feel soft, but this car has little body roll, those brembos and Pirellis also reasure you that you will brake and you will grip. My jeep, even though it’s almost as fast in a straight line, is left for dead compared to this Range Rover when it comes to cornering.
But, concerning oneself with handling dynamics when talking about a 1.8m tall brick is pointless, this Range Rover is about something else entirely, something not very objective. Because objectivity has it covered. It was the best mid size SUV you could buy when it was new, and it’s 100,000 price tag very much showed it. Reliability is still to be tested but, man... it gives you a little bit of everything, much like the 12 course testing menu at a fancy restaurant.
Today, this SUV is about feelings. It’s about feeling cool. Because it is a hip car, its the “it” car. Anywhere from Royalty to the Kardashians of the world have it and it is so goddam cool. It’s design is simultaneously new and timely, its interior is luxurious, but restrained too. Everything you touch and operate has a feeling of weight to it that only really expensive materials could give it.
JLR has two of the best designers of the industry at the moment, and I happen to believe that McGovern is the better one of the duo, and he made a fucking masterpiece (ruined on the facelift but nevermind) this car feels tough and cube like, rugged, but it’s also soft and delicate.
It’s huge windows lets you survey the lands you pretend to own and it’s high riding position grants you the privilege of looking down at lesser men and women in their compact hatches and Jettas. The brake pedal is hard, and reassuring, the throttle lineal, but the steering wheel is thin and light.
It feels like a cool place to be in, in fact, it feels like those money clips that some people have: solid, cool, luxurious.
But utterly useless.
Because does this 100,000 range rover have heated seats? no. does it have blind spot monitoring or adaptive cruise? no. Does it have interior lighting and 360 cameras? Why yes.... Because this car is about feeling, not being. I can feel like an overpaid monarch or whatever Kim Kardashian is without being them and that is the truly dangerous part of the Range Rover: It ascends you into a sphere unknown to you.
So I end up thinking about the social status of the range rover here in Mexico, if an Escalade shouts drug dealer, a Cayenne GTS shouts tasteless heir to a fortune, and X5 shouts hedgefund lawyer then the range rover screams try hard. Land Rover was almost unknown in Mexico until this generation of SUVs came out, what with the hip Evoque, the imposing Range Rover, and the in between Sport, so among the SUV crowd, it’s still quite new. A theme starts emerging when you stop acting like a gossipy asshole and instead an independent adjudicator. You start realizing that all of its competitors at the time could afford you a V8 for what this v6 was priced at.
Yeah, the v6 supercharged is amazing, and it was faster than some of the six cylinder 6 alternatives in the x5, Q7, and Cayenne, but lo and behold, the v8 x5 would smoke you, and also heat it’s driver’s butt, where the Cayenne with the right v6 would murder you while saving a few grand too, no need to discuss the v8. This is where the Range Rover’s party trick comes in.
This Range Rover is loaded with off road shit that a Cayenne couldn’t be worried with, this vehicle can be true to it’s name’s significance: it will let you travel through the ranges, through the deserted landscapes. A benefit that a Cayenne would be hard pushed to offer you, and an X5 would flat out reject. Unlike the Germans, you could have terrain response on any Range Rover, not a higher trim, not dependent on engines. All of them could do it. Have a 240 hp evoque and it will have that same software than the 570 hp SVR and SVO big brothers.
But that being said, lets go back to the weight of the door, because this isn’t a factory option. This car is 300kg heavier than the stock model, it was bulletproofed using Kevlar, balistic steel, and polycarbonate glass. It now has real runflat tires and a siren, pepper spray and a loudspeaker.
I climb into the thing and upon having the door meet the frame a sudden nervousness overcomes me, this vehicle has bulletproofing and that means that Joel believes he might be a target of criminals. So you start driving nervously, avoiding stoplights and conflict at any cost, even if it means it would take you 10 more minutes to get there. You can roll the windows down, but Joel will kindly ask you to roll them up upon becoming stationary, because of muggers, you know.
But this nervousness does come with a feeling of privilege and of deserving, you feel like you have a really important meeting to get too, where the digits discussed look like phone numbers but refer to money, or sales. You almost want to get out of your student clothes and get into a tux, you feel important and purposeful. You look back when you lock the doors at the parking lots.
Is it overwhelming? no... bulletproofing only added 300kg, it feels like a fully laden car, a bit uneasy and not very sharp, it feels however much more stable than my jeep. Again, it feels smooth and quiet and it makes you feel like a person you are not.
Many cars do this but, to what extent and to what benefit? I find that most cars make me feel unlike myself, and their way of working messes with your mind. My Kia might be a nice car, but it doesn’t make me feel like the Range Rover does, it might be a v6 but it doesn’t sound or rev like that British v6. My Kia doesn’t feel like a mobile tux, not like a black range rover does. But in the end we aren’t what our cars say we are. I can stand tall in a Range Rover when sitting down, but it’s up to me to walk with my chin up once I climb out of it.
NOTE: I uploaded this by accident without pictures....