RANGE ROVER STILL REGAL
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.