The latest version of Britain’s world-beating SUV, the fourth-generation Land Rover Range Rover, is revealed here: sleeker, more sophisticated and a little longer and lower than before.
For the first time in 42 years, however, styling and dynamic ability are not the most important parts of the new Range Rover story. The bombshell news — perhaps the most significant change in the model’s 42-year history — is the adoption of a new all-aluminium monocoque body/chassis that carves up to 420kg off the current Range Rover’s kerb weight. This will bring unprecedented benefits in fuel economy, CO2 output, performance and agility.
The new model becomes the world’s first aluminium monocoque SUV, utilising techniques already developed for the aluminium XK and XJ of sister brand Jaguar. In future, almost all of Jaguar Land Rover’s higher-value models are likely to be made this way.
According to Land Rover, the new model’s performance improvement is much more than merely incremental. Global brand director John Edwards says that while it preserves the Range Rover’s “essential, unique character”, the new car’s clean-sheet design and lightweight construction will “transform the experience for luxury vehicle customers, with a step change in comfort, refinement and handling”.
Edwards says the new Range Rover bodyshell is not only 39 per cent lighter than the outgoing steel structure but also stiffer in both torsion and bending, with new aluminium subframes front and rear that support newly designed, all-independent air suspension systems. The chassis has the latest generation of electronic ride and stability control equipment, and there’s a new, more responsive Terrain Response 2 Auto system that reads on-road and off-road conditions more quickly and configures the car better for the prevailing conditions.
The first official pictures of the new Range Rover show a wheelbase increase of about 100mm, and Autocar understands that there are similar increases in front and rear tracks. Together, these changes promise increased natural stability. Engineers talk of “transformed handling and agility” for the 2013 model, an impressive claim indeed given the high standards set by existing models.
Every surface of the new model is new, but the team led by design chief Gerry McGovern has nevertheless been entirely true to the Range Rover ethos. McGovern speaks of “a fresh interpretation of Range Rover design cues” and the 2013 edition definitely displays a sleekness and sophistication that makes the outgoing ‘L322’ version seem old and rather upright.
All the important elements are there: the floating roof, the clamshell bonnet, the blacked-out pillars, the two-piece tailgate, the swage lines high on the sides and level with the door handles, and the prominent ‘Range Rover’ script on the bonnet. There are new wraparound headlights and the grille is stylishly raked as never before. The effect is of a sleeker, more dynamic shape.
Engineers promise big changes on the move, too. The Range Rover’s all-new aluminium body has been “rigorously optimised” to work with the laminated screens and side glass to slash noise levels.
The new Range Rover is being offered with three engines. The diesels are a special version of the 3.0-litre V6 (which has been a staple in the Discovery for years) and the 4.4-litre V8 already on offer in the current Range Rover, albeit with updates. The petrol option will be Land Rover’s own version of the 5.0-litre supercharged ‘group’ V8 already offered.