Friends, I got to admit that of all SUVs (and I mean true SUVs as I’ve attempted a couple times to define the body type) I love the Range Rover! I won’t suffix that yet. Just Range Rover. But, I know the picture is obvious. You drive it, gentlemen, you know which I mean! No offence, ladies. You drive it too!
It’s but one. One “car” that tugs at my heartstrings! It is at once an enjoyable, fun vehicle to drive and admire, step right out of it and gawk at it – a delight – and a most Capable go-anywhere car carrying that aura of confidence through.
OK, I mean the big brother Range Rover, the standard one, not the Sport one, which is not as trail-happy as it pretends to be dynamic on-road, even lacking that brawn when you go heavy on the gas, saying, alright, let’s have some fun!
It is why whenever one drives past me I cannot help but look back at it. Well, this looking back has revealed one key thing that is missing about the Nigerians who can afford the Range Rover but who may not be getting the fun in its entirety. That is our subject today on Your Right of Way! So I keep looking back at it.
I could prematurely conclude that all the Range Rovers (that is, the Range Rover) currently being driven in Nigeria are the HSE, or High Specification Edition. Let the word “high” not mislead you, folks. Hear me fully out!
Let me quickly mention first that this legendary go-anywhere luxurious car comes in two specs or trims. Well, that follows. Of both the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Range Rover there’s mainly two trim levels, the HSE and the Supercharged. And therein lies the problem of choice. Of course, there’s the very base SE and most top of the line Autobiography, the two main opposites that really matter are the HSE and the Supercharged. Autobiography is Supercharged made up. SE is, well, HSE without the H. Why? Who drives an SE anyway? Or, who should?
So, the HSE is kind of like the base model. It is a 5.7 L V-8 engine outputting 375 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque whereas the Supercharged is the same V-8 engine but with a supercharger onboard which immediately bumps up the power output to 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. That is terrain-devastating if you asked me! Of course, both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, have adjustable air suspension, electronic locking center and rear differentials, full-time four-wheel drive, low-range gearing, up to 11 inches of ground clearance when jacked up by the push of a button, and Land Rover’s proprietary Terrain Response system that monitors ground conditions and adjusts the powertrain, suspension, stability and traction control systems to be suitable for terrains like gravel, mud, sand, rock, and water. Snow? I left that out. This thing is just too Capable!
Now, on the surface both look the same right? In fact, for those who own it the upscale English luxury interior are practically the same. So, you wonder why pay the extra about $8,000 difference for the Supercharged? That’ll be some N1.3 million at current exchange rate! On top of something so alike! The same? No, they’re not!
I bet if all of you driving the HSE were to try the Supercharged just one day, to spend some time with it, you’ll be willing to do the upgrade of the HSE to Supercharged that’ll cost more than if you had just bought the Supercharged in the first place. Really, it’ll mean replacing a less powerful engine. And, as far as buying used goes, there’s no reason anyone should settle for the HSE. From the bottom of my jigging heart! Go for Supercharged!
You wonder why Land Rover does the HSE in the first place. I mean, this is an uber luxury, six-figure SUV! The power has to match, and whatever else does that but supercharging the pony. Why, its supercharged German cousin, the G55 (now G63) AMG from Mercedes-Benz is 516 lb-ft of torque! So?
Truth is some dealers at Berger, acclaimed largest automotive dealership market in West Africa (for used cars, of course) don’t even know the difference between the two. And since everyone is buying the HSE, it is the one they’re importing. Popularity is not always the result of some inherent greatness but of perception and imposing peer pressure. There’s the problem. If you asked the next person about a Range Rover, if they know it, they’ll say HSE. Or Sport. When you speak of Supercharged, they’re not sure they’ve heard of that! How about you? You want to buy a Range Rover and you’re peer-pressured into the HSE! Or worse, Sport!
Now because daily use of SUVs is largely on paved roads these days it is important that I emphasize the driving dynamics peculiar (say unique) to the Supercharged model, which should be compelling enough reason to go for it. What is responsible for this surprising nimbleness from such a bulk of a car is Adaptive Dynamics and its the reason it just set my soul on fire! It continually optimizes damper (or shock absorber) settings between softer and stiffer as it encounters a terrain and determines which setting best suits it for ride and exhilarating handling, and letting myself drift a bit was hardly hairy with the large powerful Brembo brakes bringing the hefty horse to a full stop in 121 feet! I have had fun!
Look, those brakes are just something out of planet earth! They’re actually aluminum monoblock calipers gripping the 15-inch ventilated front discs by six-piston opposed brake action, that is, for the front; whereas the rear is 14.3-inch ventilated discs and a single-piston action. How great is that? Well, note that the electronic stability control, the traction control, roll stability control, adaptive cruise control, forward alert system, ABS, all systems responsible for greater stability and road holding depend on the brakes. The brakes of the HSE do not begin to compare.
As I said at the start, Range Rover is one – Supercharged!