Date:12 February 2013
A few years ago, an ageing, acerbic and curiously popular British motoring journalist described the go-anywhere Range Rover as the best car in the world. It probably isn’t, but to my way of thinking, it comes pretty damn close – especially in its newest guise, a shamelessly luxurious and technologically superb vehicle that manages to further elevate the brand’s iconic status.
A brief digression: If you’re irritated by those mommies who drive Range Rovers and drop off their darlings at horrendously expensive private schools each morning (you know, the kind of drivers who wouldn’t dream of venturing off-road), get over it. Their money is as good as yours, and if they don’t know or care about the stuff that makes this vehicle special, it’s not really your business.
Okay, now on to the good stuff. Four decades after launching the original Range Rover, the company has produced what may well be the most capable SUV on the market – and here’s why. For starters, it comes with an all-aluminium monocoque body, a feature-packed cabin that coddles its occupants to a degree just this side of decadent, a rugged and efficient drivetrain, and an array of technological refinements that will impress the most jaundiced driver.
Why is the aluminium body significant? Because it’s 39 per cent lighter than the steel body in the outgoing model – and if I have to explain what this means in terms of handling, roadholding and fuel consumption, you probably shouldn’t be reading this. Actually, I’m going to tell you anyway: the lighter structure has made it possible to introduce the 3-litre TDV6 engine into the model line. Delivering a performance in line with the previous-generation 4,4-litre TDV8 Range Rover, the smaller engine takes the total weight saving up to 420 kg and achieves an impressive 22 per cent reduction in fuel consumption (that is, 7,5 litres/100km).
Among the cooler innovations is a next-generation version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which analyses the current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings. The new suspension architecture delivers exceptional wheel articulation, which means you can handle the rough stuff without fear of damaging something expensive. Then there’s the full-time intelligent 4WD system, featuring a two-speed transfer box and working in parallel with the sophisticated electronic traction control systems. Want to wade through a river? Go for it. The Range Rover’s wading depth has improved by 200 mm to a spectacular 900 mm.
Here are a few more features I like:
- Keyless entry, “soft” door close with power latching; powered upper and lower tailgates; cooler compartments; electrically deployable towbar.
- Meridian surround sound music system with excellent sound.
- State-of-the-art displays, include the central 8-inch touchscreen with Dual-View functionality (featured in PM a couple of years back).
- Voice control and connectivity – a seamless connectivity package for mobile devices.
- Best-in-class climate control systems, including the four-zone system and Park Heater timer function.
- LED cabin illumination offers the ability to change the colour scheme to suit the driver’s mood!
Then there’s the comprehensive range of advanced chassis and driver assistance technologies. Among them:
- Dynamic Response active lean control and Adaptive Dynamics with continuously variable damping.
- Park Assist – automated technology that helps you parallel-park your car in tight urban parking spots (not that you need this, of course).
- Adaptive Cruise Control with the new Queue Assist feature, which allows the system to continue functioning at low speeds and even down to a complete stop.
- Intelligent Emergency Braking (including Advanced Emergency Brake Assist). This helps you avoid a collision if the traffic ahead slows quickly or if another vehicle suddenly moves into your lane.
- Blind Spot Monitoring with the new Closing Vehicle Sensing feature, which detects vehicles that are closing quickly from behind.
- Reverse Traffic Detection, a system that warns you of a potential collision during a reversing manoeuvre.
- Surround Camera System with T Junction view, trailer reverse park guidance, and trailer hitch guidance.
Convinced? Your next move is to bide your time until the new Range Rover arrives in your local showroom. Then, pretend to the salesperson that it’s well within your price range, and ask to be taken on a test drive. You’ll succumb. Promise.