Wheels of the Week: Range Rover offers tech feast

What makes it special?

If you want to know how seriously an automaker takes the growing demand for advanced technology inside a vehicle, sit in the back seat. In most cases, the technology is packed in the front, mainly within the driver’s reach.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the driver is the most likely user. But the love of the passengers goes a long way in cementing a car’s technical credentials. And when that love extends to the back seats, it cements the relationship.

That’s what comes to mind as I explore the new Range Rover 2022.

But let’s look at the heart of it first: the onboard tech is defined by the Pivi Pro infotainment system, which has evolved significantly since it was first introduced across the Jaguar Land Rover range. It has become more intuitive and rich while maintaining the elegance of interface design that distinguishes it from all other car infotainment systems.

It helps that it’s been given a generous canvas to display it on: a 13.1-inch curved floating screen in the center of the dash and a 13.7-inch interactive driver’s display behind the wheel.

Most importantly, Android Auto and Apple Car Play are now both available wirelessly, at a time when most other manufacturers – BMW is a notable exception – still think Android users should travel wired. Connecting smartphones to the car worked smoothly. The Pivi Pro system, in turn, is able to use the smartphone’s internet connection to provide live Google Maps navigation on the display.

On-screen controls range from 360-degree camera views when reversing or navigating tight spaces, to adjusting sound and towbar management. The only disappointment is that you can’t manage sound settings, like disabling voice navigation, in an Android Auto app via the Pivi Pro – you’ll have to go back to your smartphone app to do that.

Now for the rear passenger seats. Undoubtedly with children in mind, the rear front seats each come with 11.4-inch touchscreens under the headrest. They are individually adjustable and adaptable, allowing the passenger to choose their own entertainment, either via an HDMI connection or the vehicle’s Wi-Fi hotspot.

That’s pretty awesome in itself, but there’s a more subtle addition in the rear, symbolizing Jaguar Land Rover’s attention to technology. Inside each door you’ll find a suite of seat, window and downlight controls that are just as detailed and adjustable as the front seats. A luxury previously reserved for the “big ones” in the front, the “little ones” in the back can adjust the seats up and down as well as forwards and backwards – with three separate memory settings for families who like to make turns and who sits where.

Separate air conditioning in the rear? Yes, of course, but having those controls behind the center console is almost standard in any decent car these days. Full-service rear seat controls are decidedly not.

The front Sears have an added extra: massage seats. I’ll confess not to being a fan of these: they seem like more of a novelty than a true back massager, as they only reach where the seat makers suspect pressure points are on the average back – and there’s no such thing as a typical one The back.

Almost to compensate, the car has retractable steps that extend automatically when the door is opened, allowing easy access to all seats for all ages.

The final technical touch remains hidden until you explore the car: a 4-bottle fridge in the center console. This car has technology where other cars don’t even have a car.

How much does it cost?

The suggested retail price is a cool R3.1 million for the P530 HSE standard wheelbase version. It’s a true luxury vehicle at a true luxury price.

* Arthur Goldstuck is the founder of World Wide Worx and Editor-in-Chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter at @art2gee