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Range Rover turns 50 in style
THE Range Rover is half a century old, so a special edition is on the way dubbed, what else, Range Rover Fifty. Parent company Jaguar Land Rover is building 1,970 of them to mark the year the luxury 4x4 first hit the road, presumably on the way to a spot of off-roading.
The Fifty edition adds tasteful design flourishes to the current Range Rover. It has 22-inch wheels in a unique design, and every car bears a "1 of 1970" plaque on its centre console.
Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief creative officer, designed a commemorative "Fifty" script that appears throughout the cabin and on the exterior. For a nice retro touch, the Fifty is available in the same colours that the first Range Rovers came in.
Land Rover began building rugged but crude 4x4s in 1948, but developed the Range Rover after spotting a market for a luxury vehicle that could take wealthy landowners from London to their country estates in speed and comfort.
"To me, Range Rover has always been about the lifestyle of enjoying the outdoors with some creature comforts," says Clifton See, who owns a classic 1972 Suffix "A" two-door model.
Mr See used to drive a 1967 Land Rover that he says was "pretty agricultural". The Range Rover, with its coil springs, smooth V8 engine and air-conditioning, was a marked upgrade in comfort, but it retains the jungle bashing ability that first drew him to the Land Rover lifestyle.
The 43-year-old media professional takes his family on camping trips in it, and with features like solar panels, a roof-top tent and a water tank, he says it offers days of off-grid living. "It's like a mini home away from home," he says.
That's just as well, because Range Rover's luxury positioning means its cars sell at property prices. Depending on powertrain type and equipment levels, they start at S$447,999 with certificate of entitlement and climb to S$899,999 for the stretched, most powerful version.
The Range Rover Fifty itself will sell for a premium on top of those prices, though local dealer Wearnes Automotive is still finalising which exact versions will go on sale here and how many of the 1,970 units Singapore will get.
Yet, it's not jungle terrain that Range Rovers have to tackle these days, but competitors. Now that sport utility vehicles have gone mainstream, car makers like Audi, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and even Porsche have launched models aimed at the market the Range Rover created. They all have their strengths, but none has 50 years of heritage.