June 17, 2015 marks the 45th birthday of the iconic SUV, the Land Rover Range Rover – back when the term SUV wasn’t even widely used. Once revealed in 1970, the first-generation and its follow-ons to come laid the groundwork that defined the category.
Over the course of its four generations, the Range Rover remains one of the world’s foremost luxury SUVs, combining off-road capability with modern interior luxury and comfort.
"Range Rover was the first luxury SUV in the world in 1970 and 45 years on it continues to lead the way. The latest model is the most desirable and sophisticated Land Rover ever, mixing peerless comfort with cutting edge technology to provide the ultimate luxury SUV experience," said Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover Director of Global Engineering Operations.
The current fourth generation model – launched in 2012 - carries the marque further with its all-aluminium body and sophisticated line-up of petrol, diesel and Hybrid powertrains.
To commemorate the past and the present, Land Rover brought every generation of Range Rover together so that the progress made through the decades can be clearly visible, and its lineage clearly traceable.
First Generation – Classic (1970 – 1994)
Originally only available as a two-door, the first generation Classic went on sale in 1970 and featured a lightweight aluminium V8 engine, full-time four-wheel drive and disc brakes all-round.
In its 24-year run, numerous changes, refinements and upgrades were made including the addition of a four-door model in 1981 and an automatic transmission in 1982. It became the first SUV to have anti-lock brakes in 1989, and two years prior in 1986 the first diesel Range Rovers arrived.
Another SUV first came with the introduction of electronic air suspension in 1992, along with electronic traction control.
The first-gen Range Rover also proved to be a hardy workhorse, with formidable all-terrain ability. It became the first vehicle to complete the 29,000km Trans-America expedition that was staged by the British Army in 1972. Following this, in 1974 the Range Rover completed an epic 100-day, 12,000km trek across the Sahara Desert. And victory in the 4x4 class of the 31,000km inaugural Paris-Dakar rally of 1979 further cemented this growing reputation.
Second Generation – P38a (1994-2001)
The second Range Rover gained its internal code name from the building in which it was developed, building 38A of the Solihull factory. It brought a more luxurious air to the marque as well as more composed on-road cruising along with height-adjustable suspension.
Its iconic silhouette, floating roof, clamshell bonnet and split tailgate made it instantly recognizable as a Range Rover, though.
Third Generation – L322 (2001-2012)
The third-gen Range Rover’s design was inspired by those of high-end yachts, fine furniture and first-class airline seating, and it ultimately resulted in the most luxurious SUV Land Rover had ever conceived up to that point.
Throughout it’s 11-year life, it gained enhancements to increase comfort, luxury, aesthetics, as well as bumps in on-board technology and powertrain upgrades. It gained ‘virtual’ instruments in 2010 and also was the first vehicle to feature a ‘dual-view’ infotainment display that allowed the driver and passengers to see seperate displays through one screen.
The engine line-up expanded too, starting with the 4.2-litre Supercharged V8 in 2005, the TDV8 diesel in 2006, followed by the all-new 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine in 2009.
Fourth Generation – L405 (2012-present)
With its all-aluminium body, the fourth-generation Range Rover wanted to bring enhanced efficiency and driving dynamics to the car’s stable of abilities. It offered an engine line-up comprising of 340PS 3.0-litre SDV6 Hybrid, in addition to a 510PS 5.0-litre Supercharged V8, 258PS 3.0-litre TDV6 and a 339PS 4.4-litre SDV8 diesel. Some can even be operated via smartphone.
For 45th anniversary of the Range Rover, the SVAutobiography model was introduced as the most luxurious Range Rover ever, and with a 550PS engine it is also the most powerful.
The six-millionth Land Rover ever produced was also a Range Rover, a long-wheelbase SE Vogue destined for sale in the Chinese market.