Range Rover Sentinel
When you’ve absolutely, positively got to have the ultimate protection against extreme attack – but don’t want to compromise on luxury – accept no substitutes. George Hopkin
There’s a terrific action sequence early on in 1992 Hollywood thriller Patriot Games. Sean Bean and his gang of terrorists ambush the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s limousine, boxing it off with a pair of black cabs.
A block of Semtex under the Daimler and – BOOM! – within seconds the car is immobilised, the driver and bodyguard are dead and things don’t look good for the Secretary of State now trapped in the back of the ruined vehicle.
On that occasion the day was saved by early-1990s Harrison Ford (a bunch of flustered Beefeaters arrive on the scene soon after, because this is London).
But if Indiana Jones hadn’t been available – and providing he could have waited around 23 years – Fox’s next best option might have been the new Range Rover Sentinel, or as Land Rover officially promotes it: “A luxury fortress on wheels”.
Based on the standard wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography, the Sentinel is the first armoured Land Rover to be fully engineered by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), a crack squad of around 150 automotive specialists working out of a dedicated facility just south of Coventry in the UK who also provided bespoke Land Rovers and Jaguars for the new James Bond movie Spectre.
Receiving its global debut at the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition at London’s ExCeL arena in September this year, the Sentinel is designed to fend off 7.62mm high velocity, armour-piercing incendiary bullets and provide protection against 15kg TNT blasts and fragmentation grenade explosions beneath the floor and above the roof.
Inside the classy exterior is a six-piece armoured passenger cell made of super-high-strength steel. Standard glass has been replaced by multi-laminated armour privacy glass which provides the driver and his passengers a great view from the inside, while keeping bullets on the outside.
Other features include an anti-tamper exhaust, a self-sealing fuel tank and an auxiliary back-up battery. The car’s load space features anti-smash protective glass to turn the cabin into a mobile safe house. Run-flat inserts allow the Sentinel to make good its escape even when its tyres have been shot out, making full use of its 340PS 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine and specially-calibrated ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox.
And should accident or attack mean even these measures can’t keep the car moving, passengers can leave the vehicle via the emergency escape system behind the rear seats.
Standard Range Rover features such as blind spot monitoring, closing vehicle sensing and surround camera security are all present and correct, but optional extras for this beast include under-floor and under-bonnet fire suppression systems, a customer configurable siren system, emergency service lights and an external speaker system to address people from the safety of the cabin.
“At Special Vehicle Operations, our role is to push the boundaries on all cars, whether it’s capability or performance,” says SVO Managing Director John Edwards. “The clue is in the word ‘special’.”
And the Sentinel is one of the most special Range Rovers ever produced, says Edwards.
“It has been expertly engineered by Special Vehicle Operations to provide class-leading levels of protection to occupants against extreme attack, whilst retaining the Range Rover’s luxury and refinement with off-road capability.”
The Sentinel’s purchase price is marginally cheaper than having Harrison Ford on standby – it has a guide price starting around €400,000, but that includes a three-year, 50,000-mile warranty and annual follow-up visits.