It is testament to the extraordinary job done by its engineers, designers and, yes, marketing teams that Land Rover and its Range Rover offshoot is able to compete with its predominantly German opposition. Too small to enjoy anything like their economies of scale, too large to have any chance of enjoying boutique exclusivity, in the modern way of thinking, Land Rover is exactly the wrong size of car company to succeed. And yet, broadly speaking when not affected by external circumstances beyond its control, it does. How much further its fortunes might fly were it not also tied to Jaguar is an interesting conversation too.
And all this despite the fact that Land Rover often doesn’t exactly help itself. A reputation for uneven build quality and, until recently, offering consistently the least intuitive infotainment systems around have clearly held it back. And yet Land Rovers in general and Range Rovers in particular remain coveted, sought after and special in a way mainstream BMW, Audi and Mercedes SUVs are not.
So it’s no good simply explaining it by the current vogue for SUVs. There’s something else going on here too. Partly it lies in their design. When Land Rover pulled the wraps off its Julian Thomson-penned LRX concept in early 2008, it revealed a car whose design language would be used not only for the Evoque but every future Range Rover up to and including the present day. Where others try to create distinctive identities for themselves by using often divisive visual drama, Range Rovers are not only simpler and more beautiful, they age astonishingly well too.
But there’s more even than that. There’s authenticity too. The fact that the original Land Rover was not the first off-roader any more than was the original Range Rover the first luxury off-roader is not what matters. It is that they are perceived to be the originators of those breeds. The first and therefore, to many, still the best. It’s a powerful proposition but one to which, in the main at least, the Land Rovers and Range Rovers of today continue to do justice.