There are other cars in this exercise with a similar level of influence as the Range Rover, of course, but how many are as vitally important to the companies that make them? Mazda would survive just fine without the MX-5 these days; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles likewise without the Jeep Wrangler or the Fiat 500. For a company the size of BMW, no single model is too big to fail – Mini and 3 Series included.
But more than half of Land Rover’s model range is now made up of ‘Range Rovers’ – and between the latest Range Rover itself and its various subordinate descendants, the Range Rover brand now accounts for more than two-thirds of Land Rover’s European sales volume. The Range Rover brand has become absolutely vital for both Jaguar Land Rover and the British car industry – and there’s no brand without the big guy.
Which brings us neatly onto reasons number three and four: this car’s brilliance as a product, and its untouchable uniqueness in the market. The Range Rover might be UK manufacturing’s only world-class car – by which I mean undisputed king of its niche. Before the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce moved in to steal the Rangie’s lunch, it was probably the only SUV you would unflinchingly recognise as a true luxury car. That was the difference the third-generation L322 version made, and it remains BMW’s enduring gift to the Range Rover legend.
Authenticity is reason number five: because, despite the incredible richness and luxury that the Range Rover has taken on, it remains a true Land Rover on capability – and, for strategic reasons, so it must. It can wade in almost a metre of water, has up to 275mm of ground clearance, can tow up to three and a half tonnes, and none of its off-road clearance angles is below 27deg when it’s jacked up on its air springs. All of that, remember – plus S-Class-level good manners. Staggering stuff.