The Range Rover has really evolved since it was first released in 1970. Here we take a look back at the history of the Range Rover – the vehicle that transformed the luxury SUV market.
Range Rover Prototype 'Velar'
In 1969, a series of prototypes were developed under the guidance of Spen King, a young engineer. The team of designers and engineers behind this new revolutionary vehicle were closely guarding the prototype’s identities and aptly named the top-secret prototypes ‘Velar’, after the Italian word ‘velare’, meaning to cover or veil. They even fitted the first 26 prototypes with a Velar badge to keep the identities of the vehicles completely disguised.
Range Rover Classic
After the success of the Velar prototypes and after much deliberation, the new vehicle would be launched under the name ‘Range Rover’. It was the first SUV to combine luxury with permanent 4-wheel drive capabilities. The Range Rover was initially introduced as a 3-door vehicle, with a 4-door version added in 1981. The Range Rover was so well received, it was displayed as a piece of automotive art at The Musee du Louvre in Paris.
Range Rover Second Generation
In 1994, Land Rover released a second-generation Range Rover. The second-generation welcomed rectangular headlamps and wing-mirrors to the A-pillar. This distinctive design made the Range Rover instantly recognisable.
Range Rover Third Generation
The third generation of the luxury SUV Range Rover was released in 2001, with a monocoque single shell body. This luxury SUV took its design cues from the luxury Italian Riva Speedboat, incorporating the same high-end finish that the Range Rover was now renowned for.
Range Rover Sport
In 2005, Land Rover released its first sports SUV, bridging the gap between the larger more traditional Range Rover models and the Land Rover Discovery. The Range Rover Sport offered revolutionary cross-linked air suspension and a 4.2 litre Supercharged engine that allowed the vehicle to deliver exceptional performance both on and off-road.
Then in 2011, Land Rover unveiled the all-new Range Rover Evoque. A compact cross-coupe luxury SUV that introduced a completely fresh look to the classic Range Rover. Its fresh dynamic compact design really captured the hearts of so many around the world and ended up receiving over 200 awards worldwide.
Following Range Rover’s success, Land Rover then went on to release the fourth-generation Range Rover, in 2012. This highly anticipated Range Rover featured a new lightweight body and a floating roof! It was also the first hybrid added to the Range Rover family, reducing its fuel economy and emissions without compromising on the Range Rover’s renowned capabilities.
Keeping up the momentum, in 2013, Land Rover revealed the second-generation Range Rover Sport. This time bringing a bit of Hollywood to the launch, with actor Daniel Craig, unveiling it in the centre of New York. This new Range Rover Sport saw a revised interior, an upgraded infotainment system and increased engine power with a new 3.0 litre V6 engine.
2015 was a big year for the Range Rover family with the release of several different models. Firstly, the Range Rover Sport SVR, the first vehicle to be produced by the newly appointed Vehicle Operations Team. It was the fastest Land Rover to ever be produced, offering drivers a ride like no other.
The second model released in 2015, was the Range Rover SVAutobiography. This Range Rover was the definition of luxury craftmanship. Attention to detail could be seen throughout the vehicle, from the exquisite upholstery to the premium brushed aluminium finishes. Shortly after the release of the Range Rover SVAutobiography, Land Rover released the SVAutobiography Dynamic, featuring a powerful V8 engine, making it the ultimate Range Rover for both luxury and its capabilities.
The final Range Rover to be launched in 2015, was the world’s first premium compact 4×4 convertible SUV – the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. You can see Land Rover maintained the original Range Rover Evoque’s design language but incorporating a Z-folding roof without affecting the overall aesthetic.
Two years later in 2017, Land Rover introduced a fourth model to the Range Rover lineup, with the release of the Range Rover Velar. Bringing with it a new design language, influenced by the design of the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. The new Velar design featured smoother lines on the body and a completely new interior, with the driver’s seating positioned being lowered for the first time in the Land Rover model range.
Land Rover also introduced the revolutionary Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle in 2017. The first Hybrid vehicle in the world to have full off-roading capabilities. Land Rover showcased the Plug-In Hybrid’s capabilities by demonstrating the vehicle on the staircase to Heaven’s Gate in China, towering 45-degrees!
A couple of years later, Land Rover revealed the Range Rover Sport HST, featuring mild hybrid technology, with its 400PS Ingenium petrol engine to enhance fuel economy and emissions.
Most recently, in 2020 Land Rover announced the release of the Range Rover Fifty LE, in celebration of its half-century anniversary. With only 1970 available to purchase, this highly desirable model celebrates Range Rovers ultimate luxury and capabilities.
Facts about the Range Rover
- The initial prototypes were named ‘Velar’, after the Italian word ‘velare’, meaning to cover or veil.
- The first 26 prototypes were fitted with a Velar badge to keep the vehicles identities disguised.
- The Range Rover was the first SUV to combine luxury with permanent 4-wheel drive capabilities.
- The Range Rover was so well received, it was displayed as a piece of automotive art at The Musee du Louvre in Paris.
- The third generation Range Rover took its design cues from the luxury Italian Riva Speedboat.
- In 2005, Land Rover released its first sports SUV – the Range Rover Sport.
- The Range Rover Evoque received receiving over 200 international awards.
- Land Rover brought a bit of Hollywood to the launch of the 2013 Range Rover Sport, with actor Daniel Craig, unveiling it in the centre of New York.
- In 2017 Land Rover introduced the first Hybrid vehicle in the world to have full off-roading capabilities.
- In 2020, Land Rover released its special 50 year anniversary model, the Range Rover Fifty LE.