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Wheels of the Week: Range Rover offers tech feast

The new Range Rover offers tech where other cars don’t even have car, or so it seemed to ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

What makes it special?

If you want to know how seriously a car maker takes the growing demand for advanced technology in the interior of a vehicle, get into the backseat. In most cases, the tech gets packed into the front, primarily within reach of the driver.

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

This comes to mind exploring the new Range Rover 2022.

But first, let’s look at the centrepiece: 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 intuititve and expansive, while retaining the elegance of interface design that sets it apart from all other car infotainment.

It helps that it’s been given a generous canvas on which to be displayed: a 13.1-inch curved floating screen in the centre of the dashboard, and  a 13.7-inch Interactive Driver Display behind the steering wheel.

Most significantly, Android Auto and Apple Car Play are both now available wirelessly, at a time when most other manufacturers – BMW being a notable exception – still believe Android users should travel with cables. Connecting smartphones to the car was seamless. The Pivi Pro system in turn is able to draw on 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 customising sound to managing towbar deployment. The one disappointment is that one cannot manage sound settings, such as disabling voice navigation, on an Android Auto app via Pivi Pro – you must return to your smartphone app for that.

Now for those rear passenger seats.  No doubt with kids in mind, the rear of the front seats each sport 11.4-inch touchscreens below the headrest. They are individually adjustable and customisable, meaning that passenger can choose their own individual entertainment, either via an HDMI port or the car’s Wi-Fi hotspot.

That’s pretty awesome in its own right, but it is a more subtle addition in the rear that symbolises Jaguar Land Rover’s attention to tech. Inside each door, one finds an array of seat, window and downlight controls every bit as detailed and adjustable as in the front seats. A luxury previously reserved for the “big people” in front, allows the “little people” at the back to adjust seats up and down, as well as forward and backward – with three separate memory settings for families where turns are taken in terms of who sits where.

Separate climate control in the rear? Yes, of course, but having those controls behind the central console is almost standard in any decent car nowadays. Full service rear-seat control is decidedly not.

The front seats do have one added extra: massaging seats. I confess to being no fan of these: they seem more of a novelty than being a genuine back-massage tool, as they reach only the spots that the makers of the seats assume to represent pressure points on the average back – and there is no such thing as a typical back.

Almost to make up for it, the car includes retractable side steps, which slide out automatically when the door is opened, allowing easy access to all seats, for all ages.

The finishing tech touch is hidden until you start exploring the car: a 4-bottle fridge inside the central console. This car has tech where others cars don’t even have car.

What does it cost?

Recommended 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 founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

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