Although I’m entirely unapologetic for celebrating the multi-faceted awesomeness of last week’s C4 Chevrolet Corvette Brave Pill, it was widely reckoned in the comments to be no more courageous than choosing a small green salad. Against which this week’s offering is closer to playing expiry date roulette with the stuff that’s been sitting too long at the back of the fridge. Yes, it’s that perennial friend of the risk-loving motorist, a leggy Range Rover, in this case a still fresh-looking L405 generation version that wears both a sizeable mileage and a price tag that is certain to set wallets a twichin’. Best of all, it’s powered by a V8.
Any readers with longer memories, or quicker Google skills, will already know that this is the second L405 Rangie to feature here, the first being an SDV8 diesel back in May 2021. That earlier one earned the distinction of being the first time a car had managed to get Pill’d while it was still in production, one that this week’s example won’t be able to match thanks to the arrival of the all-new L460 generation Range Rover last year. Meaning this Pill will be less appealing to cut-price fashionistas in search of the latest thing.
This new reality is reflected in falling values. While the soot-chucker was being offered for £24,000 - making it the cheapest SDV8 in the country at the time - this Pill is up for an even more reasonable £21,995. It’s also a plusher Autobiography - the diesel was a Vogue - and has the mightier and more charismatic 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 that always turned the L405 into the ultimate guilty pleasure. Sure, the MPG will often struggle to beat that of a rugby team pub crawl, but if you’re going to do something as mad as buy a mile-heavy Range Rover - one with 150,000 under its belt - then why not go all-in?
While the arrival of its replacement moves the L405 down the chronology, even a well-used example remains one hell of a thing. Its introduction in 2013 marked the point where Land Rover made the decision to move even further upmarket. So while the closely related L494 Range Rover Sport offered the same basic mechanical package in a body that was similarly sized to the old L322 Range Rover, the L405 grew bigger and grander as well as more expensive.
The strategy worked impressively well. The existence of posh-roaders like the Bentley Bentayga and Aston Martin DBX is testament to the mega-SUV market this Range Rover proved was waiting to be tapped. But the Range Rover Sport’s sportier dynamic mission also meant the full-sized Rangie was free to focus on plushness and comfort, with ultra-pliant air springs and a driving experience that is only slightly less laid-back than being tucked up in bed. Very few luxury cars, regardless of price, ever got close to the effortless waftability of this Range Rover - something especially true with the brawn of the 5.0-litre V8.
Yes, it’s quick. Even the Rangie’s two-and-a-half tonne weight can’t blunt the efforts of the 510hp V8 too much, with a 5.4-second 0-62mph making this leviathan faster than many sports cars - in straight lines, at least. But the soft suspension settings mean that full acceleration and attempts at faster progress will always bring jaunty angles of pitch, dive and roll. Far better to revel in the muscularity of the top inch or so of the accelerator pedal’s travel and roll along in imperious calm. And while few L405s have spent much time off Tarmac, and especially not while wearing wheels as scratchable as our Pill’s 22-inch diamond cut alloys, the reassurance of knowing that they could face the wilderness better than almost any rival comes as standard.
Being an Autobiography, our Pill is laden with kit, including power-adjustable seats front and rear, separate entertainment screens for each back passenger and the bangin’ Meridian sound system. Which are all positives. Negatives are the fact it dates from when the UI for JLR’s infotainment system had barely emerged from the primordial ooze and the fact - talking of ooze - that the cabin is in serious need of a good clean, with an icky level of gunk on many of the interior surfaces. Maybe the dealer posted the pictures before giving it the valeting it obviously deserves. Those with sharper eyes will also be able to spot the presence of Rockblade branded tyres, which are a new one to me, although the two-star review on What Tyre suggests these may well have been chosen on the grounds of price rather than dynamic performance.
Yet despite this apparent evidence of cost-cutting, and the CSI training school interior, there are no obvious signs for alarm. The dealer selling our Pill promises a full history with a recent service, although the claim of one owner is contradicted by the spec panel’s claim of three; probably some confusion in the uploading process. The MOT history has been clean n’ green since 2018, although with only 10,000 miles covered in that time. Prior to that, there were advisories for worn brakes, tyres and suspension components - you’d be more surprised if there hadn’t been - including the bizarre “front brake drum worn, pitted or scored”, suggesting it had been confused with a Morris Minor. Don’t worry, reassuringly large disc rotors are shown in the pictures.
While the L405 is generally reckoned to be more mechanically and electrically sturdy than any of its predecessors, it’s fair to say that sizeable bills tend to crop up frequently in the lives of anyone owning an ageing Range Rover. Yet you could surely drive this one all the way to the end of the combustion era without running up costs anywhere close to the ones it has already racked up. As a full-digging 5.0-litre Autobiography our Pill would have cost more than £95,000 before options when it was new ten years ago. So that’s £75,000 in depreciation, plus a guesstimated £45,000 in fuel and let’s say another £20,000 more for insurance, tax and servicing. Worth every penny, right?
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