Rangie likes it rough

But most own­ers won’t dare put the luxo-4wd to the test

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

I can feel the Ter­rain Re­sponse soft­ware shunt­ing torque to al­ter­nate wheels try­ing to scrounge grip against the cur­rent and shifts in weight.

The re­sult: tech­nol­ogy and engi­neer­ing win and the 2.2-tonne turbo diesel ploughs res­o­lutely on, de­spite be­ing lit­er­ally out of its 900mm wad­ing depth and cop­ing with a task that’s caus­ing a De­fender with off-road rub­ber nearly as many prob­lems.

It had al­ready sur­vived some axle-deep sand dune runs and a rock crawl that had Land Rover PR Tim Krieger winc­ing on the few oc­ca­sions when the 260mm of front and 300mm rear of wheel travel were ex­ceeded and the Rangie did bot­tom out.

The river run tests the wheel travel again, when one of our group drops two wheels off a silt ledge and puts the SUV on a 45-de­gree lean that no one be­lieves it can re­cover from. We’re al­ready dis­cussing how they can ex­tri­cate the car from the bot­tom of a ravine when the driver man­ages a re­cov­ery — de­spite do­ing al­most ev­ery­thing wrong, from try­ing to swing back up the ridge, thereby in­creas­ing the tilt, to gun­ning the engine and mak­ing the Rangie jump.

The Range Rover is built from the ground up for just this pur­pose and it’s a trav­esty that very few own­ers will test the ex­treme ca­pa­bil­i­ties of their de­cid­edly lux­u­ri­ous SUV. One wouldn’t want to spoil the leather in­te­rior, would one? It’d be like muck­ing out the sta­bles in a pair of Gucci loafers.

Reg­u­lar own­ers can rest easy though, be­cause the Range Rover is prob­a­bly even more com­posed on the free­way, where re­vi­sions to the steer­ing and sus­pen­sion all but elim­i­nate the head-shake that be­set the pre­vi­ous model at speed and im­prove­ments to the in­su­la­tion make it a serene work­place, even with the speedo nee­dle nudg­ing 200km/h.

And the steer­ing wheel stiff­ens up to sportscar lev­els on the road. Other car­mak­ers should tear it down to find out how to make an elec­tric steer­ing sys­tem that works at all an­gles.

All mod­els have 3.5-tonne tow­ing ca­pac­ity and un­less you in­tend to reg­u­larly use it, the V6 turbo diesel’s 600Nm and 0-100km/h time of 7.9 sec­onds should do the job for most own­ers. The diesel V8’s 700Nm make it the pick for heavy haulers, while the su­per­charged petrol V8’s 5.4-sec­ond sprint time gives it per­for­mance brag­ging rights.

VALUE

If you have to ask, you can’t af­ford it. Given there’s no di­rect com­pe­ti­tion, Land Rover bench­marked the car against ev­ery­thing fromBMW’s X5 and 7 Se­ries to the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and S-Class— and says the Range Rover is qui­eter than them all at high­way speeds. The V6 turbo diesel will go on sale in Fe­bru­ary at $168,900 in HSE trim and will be the vol­ume seller, though there also will be a $178,900 Vogue spec.

The turbo diesel V8 will be a $195,100 propo­si­tion in Vogue for­mat, step­ping up to $217,100 for the Vogue SE and $232,800 for the ‘‘ with the lot’’ Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy trim.

The su­per­charged V8 is the sole petrol engine des­tined for Aus­tralia and starts at $224,400 in Vogue SE spec, ris­ing to $240,100 for the Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

A diesel hy­brid will join the range late next year.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The fourth-gen­er­a­tion Rangie uses an alu­minium mono­coque chas­sis and al­loy pan­els to trim more than 300kg from most mod­els. That is then promptly

Car­a­vanserai: The Range Rover is ‘‘the most lux­u­ri­ous heavy­duty tow ve­hi­cle’’ you can get

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