Range Rover is all mus­cle

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

My con­tact at Range Rover said: ‘‘If we’d given the car more wad­ing abil­ity it would have floated away!’’ He was only partly jok­ing and man­aged to en­cap­su­late two of the new Range Rover’s main sales propo­si­tions: it’s even bet­ter off road and it’s a whole lot lighter than be­fore. So into the water we went, deep enough for the caramel fudge-like liq­uid clag to wash slightly over the car’s new softer-edged bon­net and set­tle at about in­ner whee­larch height while I waited for the ve­hi­cle in front to drive out of the hole. It was a cinch. The 4x4 tur­bod­iesel V8 even gur­gled like an old mo­tor tor­pedo boat as it clam­bered eas­ily out of the mire, but I couldn’t help think­ing that sit­ting

there in the lap of leather-clad lux­ury, it was a bit like go­ing off-road in the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of Downton Abbey. I could just imag­ine Mr Car­son say­ing: ‘‘Do you think this is wise, m’lud?’’ ‘‘That’s al­right Car­son,’’ I would re­ply. ‘‘The Rangie’s got it all in hand.’’ And it did. Its abil­ity is be­yond most off-road­ers’ as­pi­ra­tions, and many don’t be­lieve its stately el­e­gance clothes a dirt-dig­ging chas­sis and ac­cou­trements as much at home in the moun­tains as out­side the opera. The 2013 Range Rover is com­pletely new from the ground up ex­cept for its en­gines, and they were al­ready best in class or close to it. Apart from those, they have started from scratch, with Land Rover’s de­sign chief Gerry McGovern told not to change the look of the car, just make it bet­ter. Job done. Crafted from alu­minium – just as the best cur­rent Jaguars are – the Range Rover’s bodyshell weighs no more than a mod­ern Mini Club­man’s. So the new Range Rover might look fa­mil­iar, but it’s an all­new de­vice, weigh­ing up to 420kg less than its pre­vi­ous ver­sion. Which not only ex­plains the its vastly im­proved dy­nam­ics, but also its as­ton­ish­ing per­for­mance, fuel econ­omy and emis­sions fig­ures. The en­try-level en­gine, which won’t reach us un­til later in the year, is a 190 kilo­watt three-litre TDV6 turbo diesel which, with the help of start/ stop, has of­fi­cial fig­ures of 7.5L/100km com­bined and CO2 emis­sions of 196g/km but can also ac­cel­er­ate to 100kmh in 7.9 sec­onds. For the twin-turbo diesel 250kW 4.4-litre SDV8, the CO2 rat­ing is 229g/km – a 10 per cent im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous car with the same en­gine, while the zero 100kmh sprint time is just 6.5 sec­onds, only a sec­ond and a half longer than the 375kW 5.0-litre su­per­charged petrol V8. The lat­est Range Rovers all use an eight-speed ZF au­to­matic trans­mis­sion - two ra­tios up on the pre­vi­ous model. This pro­vides as­ton­ish­ing re­fine­ment and quiet­ness. Like a good but­ler, the power and torque is there, but is not ap­plied with fuss or drama. An­other fea­ture across the range is air sus­pen­sion soft enough to re­act quickly to shal­low and harsh bumps, mak­ing its oc­cu­pants feel as if it’s not quite touch­ing the ground at all, pass­ing along the open-road with such aplomb that few lux­ury sedans could get close to it for re­fine­ment. Body con­trol is good and the Range Rover cour­ses through bends with ease. Its new air sus­pen­sion set-up al­lows body height ad­just­ment, and with its lighter weight and a new ver­sion of the com­pany’s Ter­rain Re­sponse sys­tem it’ll do the busi­ness in the dirt as well as any­thing else. Ter­rain Re­sponse II has an au­to­matic set­ting which recog­nises what kind of sur­face the car is driv­ing on. The new Rangie now has a ford­ing depth of 900mm, so al­most half the car can be sub­merged be­fore you need to panic. While the car’s breakover an­gle is down a tad at just over 28 de­grees, the Range Rover’s ap­proach an­gle is im­proved to 34.5 de­grees, while the de­par­ture an­gle at 29.5 de­grees ben­e­fits from a much cleaner cut­away rear valance area. When things get tough, the air sus­pen­sion can be raised or low­ered. The Range Rover’s height has daily ben­e­fits. Room with a view is of­ten the main buy­ing point for most SUV as­pi­rants, from a $10,000 used truck to a quar­ter mil­lion dol­lar Range Rover, and the com­fort and legroom ben­e­fits are huge, and of­ten pre­ferred to the sim­i­larly-stick­ered long­wheel­base Euro­pean lux­ury sedans that also pop­u­late the po­ten­tial Range Rover own­ers’ check­list. So close to the ex­pected Range Rover tem­plate is Gerry McGovern’s new car, that it’s a sur­prise to learn that the wheel­base has been ex­tended by 40mm, while the cabin of­fers an­other 120mm in rear legroom and ac­com­mo­dates power re­clin­ers. The cabin really is vastly im­proved for space over the old car’s, and there’d be few more ef­fec­tive modes of road trans­port for four large peo­ple and their be­long­ings than the new Range Rover, though if you’re seated in the rear, and you’re quite tall, you could strike your head on the side head­rail-mounted in­te­rior lamp. The de­sign­ers have elim­i­nated half the switches that used to ex­ist in the Range Rover’s driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment, hav­ing trans­ferred many mi­nor func­tions to the car’s cen­tral touch­screen. The new Range Rover has taken a de­sign gim­mick from Jaguar by pro­vid­ing an in­stru­ment clus­ter that’s a dig­i­tal ren­der­ing of tra­di­tional sweep-dial gauges. It’s very smart and easy to read, but it doesn’t go far enough. If th­ese in­stru­ments, are dig­i­tal, then why can’t an owner per­son­alise them, as they would a PC, iPad or Smart­phone screen? Now the nitty-gritty, how much? When com­pared with the equiv­a­lent pre­vi­ous models, the new Range Rover is $14,000 more ex­pen­sive in the case of the $210,000 SDV8, and $29,000 more ex­pen­sive for the $255,000 Su­per­charged petrol V8 Vogue. The good news is that you can see - and feel - where ev­ery cent has gone. There’s a load more bits and bobs that Car­son could help you choose from. His ad­vice could be use­ful, as some items like spe­cial wheels and adap­tive cruise con­trol could add $12,000 each in a heart­beat. Even the en­try-point TCV6 HSE will start at $195,000 and is loaded with gear. The new Range Rover is no small achieve­ment. Rel­a­tive to its weight sav­ings, to score the equiv­a­lent success, mass­mak­ers of smaller ve­hi­cles would have to lose more than 220 ki­los from their prod­ucts. I’ll bet they won’t.

Rad­i­cal Rover: Range Rover have shifted their fo­cus with their lat­est model.

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