Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - FRONT PAGE - By David Booth

ES­SAOURIA, Morocco — The fact that the prog­no­sis was de­liv­ered with the most aris­to­cratic of French ac­cents did noth­ing to make the end of my fibula any less bro­ken.

In­deed, while his al­most lilt­ing “Votre cheveille, elle est brise” may have been a whole lot more sym­pa­thetic than “Your an­kle is bro­ken, dum­b­ass,” it none­the­less still meant that, for the sec­ond time in six months (I had just man­aged to re­pair the shoul­der sep­a­rated from a mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing ker­fuf­fle), I was once again hors de com­bat.

It would have been nice, es­pe­cially since this is a Range Rover road test from ex­otic Morocco, to have a wild (and pos­si­bly sor­did) ad­ven­ture as the pre­cur­sor to said in­jury, per­haps some­thing in­volv­ing some form of wild an­i­mal, a run­away SUV and maybe even a winch. And, for that last soupçon of in­trigue, a damsel in dis­tress.

Un­for­tu­nately, I merely twisted my an­kle, al­beit grotesquely (there’s noth­ing quite as sick­en­ing as hear­ing the snap of your own bones), in an un­likely placed storm drain. No hero­ics, no (mis)ad­ven­ture, just a plain old mid­dle-aged slip-up. For one used to re­gal­ing you with feats of der­ring-do, it was, frankly, em­bar­rass­ing.

But, ah, there was some ad­ven­ture af­ter said in­jury. Re­pair­ing what one might as­sume was a rather sim­ple non-dis­placed frac­ture some­how re­quired vis­it­ing three rather shabby med­i­cal clin­ics in the dead of night, one furtive black mar­ket pur­chase (in a land where black mar­ket pur­chases can very quickly take a Mid­night Ex­press turn) of cast bat­ten­ing, and the use of an x-ray ma­chine that might have once seen use in Op­er­a­tion Torch.

But, sav­ing the day, the doc­tors turned out to be noth­ing short of ex­cel­lent, the cast exquisitely laid and even that x-ray bed, creaky as it may have been, was hooked up to a com­put­er­ized pro­cess­ing sys­tem more mod­ern than those in most Cana­dian hos­pi­tals. In other words, don’t judge a med­i­cal sys­tem by its cover.

That’s an ex­cel­lent metaphor for the all­new Range Rover be­cause, ex­cept for those truly im­mersed in Land Rover lore, the 2013 model be­ing trum­peted as all new ap­pears to be, out­wardly at least, lit­tle changed from the 2012 model. The ba­sic shape is the same, the roofline, even if it is some 20 mil­lime­tres lower, is all but iden­ti­cal and, save for de­tails such as lights and fas­cias, one could eas­ily mis­take the 2013 for a mere mid-model re­fresh.

Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth, for un­der­neath that seem­ingly fa­mil­iar skin is the world’s first sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle with an all-alu­minum uni­body. Yep, the frame, the sus­pen­sion bits and vir­tu­ally all the body parts are con­structed of the lighter-than-steel metal. As you’ll be read­ing in many an ad­ver­tise­ment I am sure, that makes the 2013 ver­sion of the su­per­charged Range Rover a whop­ping 250 kilo­grams (185 of which are in the body shell alone) lighter than the 2012 model.

Range Rover claims all man­ner of ad­van­tages, not the least of which is in­creased strength, the com­pany claim­ing that the alu­minum struc­ture is stiffer in key ar­eas — such as the all-im­por­tant sus­pen­sion sub­frame at­tach­ment points — than its steel pre­de­ces­sor, says Alex Hes­lop, the Range Rover’s chief en­gi­neer.

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