Could LWB Range Rover be the ultimate chauffeur car?

If you decided to offer your clients the pinnacle of chauffeur cars and the height of luxury, your mind would probably jump to the likes of a Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Maybach.

All of these of course offer acres of legroom and enough luxuries to put the Dorchester to shame, but with the cheapest of these super-luxury limos costing £165,000, it’s time to think again, as there’s another option which could see you with £60,000 back in your wallet.

Every winter, you’ll always come across an article from me banging on about how chauffeurs should be embracing 4×4 vehicles, enabling them to give a full service to their customers – this winter will be no different and I’m pleased to see a few more 4×4’s appearing in fleets over the past few years.

So, wouldn’t it be great to be able to transport passengers in whatever mother nature throws at you and allowing the client to enjoy S-Class levels of luxury – enter the Range Rover long-wheelbase.

Not only is it a British icon, but the latest version which appeared on our roads in 2012, is not only more pleasing to the eye than ever before, but Jaguar Land Rover has cleverly slotted an Jag XJ style interior into the Rangie, offering superb luxury levels.

Our test vehicle for this report came in Hybrid form – under the bonnet a 3.0 V6 diesel, boosted by an electric motor with a Co2 figure of just 169g/km. A few options such as adaptive LED headlights, full panoramic roof, head-up display and £4,000 worth Meridian audio system making our test car come in at £118,810 on-the-road.

First, let’s deal with the disappointment of the Hybrid system. We must remember the Range Rover LWB weighs 3 tonnes, and just to move it off the line takes the energy of a small power station anyway. Although the latest Range Rover has a massive weight saving over its predecessor, chauffeurs expecting to be wafting through the city in silence and using electric power will have bit of a shock.

The full range of the electric motor when fully charged is 1 mile – no, it’s not a typo – 1 mile! The price of hearing the diesel engine cut in and out every few seconds will cost you a mere £4,000. The combined MPG of the Hybrid is listed to be 45mpg, the best I managed across seven days was 37, so my personal engine choice would be the 4.4 SDV8 diesel, with a base price of £106,000.

So, what can you expect in return for half the value of a modest two bed mid-terrace house? In a few words, road presence, capability, beauty, and more space than you would probably get in that two bed house!

The LWB Rangie is simply massive – at 5.2 metres long (40mm shorter than a BMW 730Ld) it’s more the height and presence of it that makes it stand-out against any other 4×4. The huge, long rear doors makes the chauffeur feel he’s opening the door of the beast for Obama, and when you look inside, the immense space, leather quality and deep carpets show the real beauty of this vehicle.

Stepping up into it (could be tricky for the vertically challenged), and sinking into the seats certainly makes you feel special. No need to push the passenger seat forward for extra room, the central armrest providing all the storage and massive 10inch screens giving the client all the info needed. A button on the passenger seat is available for Mr Chauffeur to use if needed.

Reclining option on the centre armrest allows Sir to make use of all that legroom, although I would like to see a deeper recline – however, this would encroach into the 550 litres of boot space. Not a too shabby figure for boot space, but cases could stack up if you have appropriate protection for passengers (cargo barrier £418.00).

Behind the wheel, the features list is extensive – too much to even list. Whilst driving, you know you’re in control of a massive car, unlike many others which make you believe your driving something much smaller. I like this, the perfectly weighted steering tells you you’re in command of an impressive luxury limo. It’s a great shame the navigation hasn’t changed from what seems to be decades old – the mapping still looks like it’s been drawn by a three year-old child with a set of Crayola’s.

So, when there are floods and snow, you least know you can complete the journey. With wading capabilities of up to 900mm (not recommended on general chauffeuring duties), and incredible off-road capabilities, the Range Rover will tackle anything in its way. I’ve seen these cars go places on standard road tyres that some Defender’s couldn’t go, but I would always recommend a good set of all-terrains which will never let you down.

Choosing the Range Rover above the other famous high-end marquees makes sense when a client wants to be discreet. When a 4×4 can be seen on every street corner of the capital, squeezing passed the paps in one of these would certainly be easier, making your life a bit more stress free.

Don’t expect any chauffeur deals or specialised programme on the Range Rover, the manufacturer can’t sell enough of these as it is, so no discounts or benefits for us!

A Rolls-Royce starts from £310,000 and a Mulsanne a cool £229,00 – so if I had the option of one of these, or go mad with a Range Rover LWB options list and save tens of thousands, I know where my money would be going.

Paul Gibson

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