What is it?
It’s the new Range Rover, revised for 2011 with a modified, more powerful, more efficient turbodiesel engine. The world’s most admired luxury off-roader, the Range Rover, has just celebrated its 40th birthday and everyone agrees it is still at the height of its powers, except for one thing. It is large and heavy and has a reputation for thirst.
Land Rover has completely rethought the former 3.6-litre V8 diesel, which is now bored and stroked to 4.4 litres, and fitted it with a similar sequential twin turbocharger induction system to the one in the diesel Discovery's 3.0 litre V6. This allows it more power (308 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torque (516lb ft at 1500-3000 rpm) and obviously it now meets the new Euro5 emissions standards.
Combined with a new ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, carefully matched to the RR's unique weight and character, the new powertrain offers a 20 percent improvement in fuel consumption and cuts CO2 by 15 percent, removing the diesel Range Rover from the top road tax band. The Range Rover upgrade also brings paddle-shifts and a Jaguar-style rotary gear selector for the first time.
The 2011 Range Rover gets minor upgrades to the exterior, but substantial upgrades to the rear compartment to cater for the fact that owners in emerging markets (China, India, Russia) are frequently chauffeured. The diesel also adopts the supercharged RR's Brembo brakes - and needs them.
What’s it like?
On or off road, it's magnificent. The driving position is still by far the best in the business, being both long-distance comfortable and commanding at the same time. Visibility, even in tight going, is terrific. The '10 model already set the class standards for steering response, ride comfort, quietness and off-road ability.
This new edition adds effortless open-road ability: despite the mass there is always plenty of torque plus exactly the right gear ratio (imperceptibly selected) to accelerate you strongly from about 60-70 mph where the old model's thrust began to tail off.
The paddle-shift, though hardly needed, adds an interesting dimension to your driving pleasure. Best of all, the gearbox has none of the tendency to 'hunt' discontentedly between ratios like other seven and eight-speeders available.
Should I buy one?
The new Range Rover, though little different to look at, is a mighty step forward. Not only do buyers get more power delivered with less apparent effort, they get much better fuel consumption and can buy with good conscience. It's a virtuous circle.