In the sweltering 54degC heat of Dubai, Steve Cropley joins the all-new Range Rover for a test run to the desert
Steve Cropley Autocar
17 September 2012

It’s not yet 8am, but the surprises are coming thick and fast. We’ve driven 200 yards in the 2013 Range Rover but I’m already learning how different this long-awaited, fourth-generation icon is from its predecessor.

It’s more stable, more agile, more spacious, more comfortable, more luxurious. And better looking. In the best cars, top engineers say, it never takes long to feel the difference, and this seems to be proof.

As a Range Rover fan, I’m equally concerned and exhilarated by this new knowledge — it’s reassuring to know such a vital new model is turning out well but it’s a shock to discover what I thought was one of the world’s great cars is so easily eclipsed by its successor.

We’re in Dubai with Range Rover vehicle-line executive Mick Cameron, on a mission to apply the final production polish to some late prototypes. 

Cameron has been involved with Range Rover since 2001 and he’s worked on the latest L405 model since the programme started in 2007. 

“I’m proud to have been part of the original L405 team,” says Cameron. “I was at the meeting when the biggest question was put: ‘We have to replace the L322; what do we do?’ Everyone knew this was the start of the aluminium generation; we’d be using new processes pioneered by Jaguar. That meant it was probably going to be the most important Range Rover since the first. Who’d want to miss the start of a project like that?”

2013 Range Rover: Technical details revealed

Our test starts with low-speed, heat-inducing city driving in the V8 model – taking us through Dubai’s bustling traditional market quarter.

The Range Rover glides along, its new all-electric power steering smoothly and precisely, changing our direction into tiny alleyways. Near-zero airflow through the radiators, lots of underbonnet heat, air-con working overtime, lots of stops and starts… it's ideal for creating various forms of overheating.

Wide roads lead us out of town to a dune known as Big Red, named on account of its colour and size. Here and there, we sample the supercharged model’s effortless power. The top-end Range Rover was always fast; this one is faster still. And quieter; Cameron and his team aware of forthcoming Bentley and Maserati SUVs, and worked tirelessly to refine every facet of the L405. The one thing detectable to the ear is a beautiful, remote V8 burble. Fanatical attention to detail in design and manufacture has cut wind and road noise.

“The body structure weighs 290kg,” Cameron says, “which is 180kg less than the current model’s. It’s also 23kg lighter than a BMW 3-series, 85kg lighter than an Audi Q5 and only 12kg heavier than a Mini Countryman.”

The result is an L405 V8 diesel about 220kg lighter than its L322 equivalent. A fairer comparison is between the new V6 and outgoing V8 diesels, because they now have equal performance. The new car is even lighter, more efficient and saves around 60g/km of CO2.

See the Range Rover in action, and hear the development team explaining the car's dynamic capabilities

Terrain Response gets an ‘automatic’ setting, which lets the car decide which settings are appropriate to the occasion. 

Other controls are simplified and cabin quality has increased again. Rear room is improved and the new seat’s two-bucket configuration adds much-needed side support. Range Rovers have always felt like the wheels roll on satin. Despite wearing tyres with aggressive tread designs, this L405 looks like it could set new standards. 

Big Red, the Everest of sand dunes, lets us play. Dropping tyre pressures to 15psi and placing Terrain Response into sand mode, we head straight up the front slope of Big Red, seeming to glide on the sand, which varies from hard-packed patches to loose stuff seemingly several feet deep. 

We’re in the V6 diesel now, but there’s very little difference in power delivery. Just a two per cent smoothness deficiency, the lack of V8 ‘woofle’ and the occasional, barely heard suggestion of a diesel rattle.  

Too soon, we leave. Curious onlookers start to gather. We stop near the road at the base of Big Red. It’s 56degC outside, which Cameron says equals his personal record for desert heat. We stand unprotected in the sun and feel what Dubai’s unfettered sun can do to your scalp and shoulders. Within minutes, my metal-cased pen, needed for writing notes, becomes too hot to touch.

Then we get back into our Range Rovers and cruise quickly and quietly back to town. Our cabin temperature refuses to budge from the 21degC it has maintained all afternoon. The engine purrs as it would in Piccadilly Circus traffic. I feel secure, content and comfortable, and I have a powerful feeling that this new Range Rover is going to succeed, big time.

Our Verdict

The fourth-generation Range Rover is here to be judged as a luxury car as much as it is a 4x4

Join the debate

Comments
10

17 September 2012

Can I order one in that colour scheme?  At least it covers those awfaul fake vents in the door.

(And can anyone tell me why it seems that giving ride alongs to journalist seems to be mainly the preserve of British companies - JLR, Aston, etc.?  I never read Ferrari or Mercedes ride alongs - they journos just drive the car.)

17 September 2012

Well said D & C!  Not only are the ghastly fake vents covered but the horrific "weepy eye infection" lights are returned to an attractive shape.  In fact, finally, we get to see that the overall shape of the car is good - it's just the appalling detailing (nasty front bumper vents, aforementioned lights front and rear, and pointless, ugly, stuck on "vents" on the door) that make it look cheap and tacky.

Once again, great work by the engineers has been let down by massive lapses of taste by the design dept.

17 September 2012

Totally agree with the two comments above with the detailing covered up the car looks alot less offensive.

 

The above article does tend to resemble a love in for a free trip to Dubai, poor show.

17 September 2012

Anonymous wrote:

The Range Rover glides along, its new all-electric power steering smoothly and precisely, changing our direction into tiny alleyways.

Interesting observation from the passenger seat. Whoever was driving was 'smoothly and precisely' changing direction, whether that was because of, or in spite of, the electric power steering - you don't know cos you were in the passenger seat.

All part of the huge PR machine that goes with car launches these days.

A bit picky perhaps but my heart always sinks when the new issue of Car magazine drops onto the doormat and like an excited child i open it up to find that the main headline is that they've taken studio pictures of a car!! Wow!! In fact the current Car magazine has studio pics of the RR and tells me how world class it will be, because JLR have told them it's world class, don't you know.

I'm a bit if a design geek, so like the details but its the fact the article is always reconstituted press release and manufacturer PR bumpf, containing no objective assessment but bugs me.

ps. i think the new RR looks ok and the vents under the lights look better once the numberplate is there, which isn't often thought about by designers. It'll be a big hit just like the Evoque - though where all these people get their money from i have no idea!!

 

 

You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

17 September 2012

harf wrote:

Anonymous wrote:

The Range Rover glides along, its new all-electric power steering smoothly and precisely, changing our direction into tiny alleyways.

Interesting observation from the passenger seat. Whoever was driving was 'smoothly and precisely' changing direction, whether that was because of, or in spite of, the electric power steering - you don't know cos you were in the passenger seat.

All part of the huge PR machine that goes with car launches these days.

 

Can't agree more,, Sadly carmagazines there days seems to work closely with their friends in the car industry.  Autocar isn't the only magazine though. 

17 September 2012

Yep, I like the highly stylised camuflage graphic as well. No doubts the stylists had their hands on this.... they should consider a limited series production of this paint job /stickers.

What I have been wondering is that, How the hell did they manage to keep the cars so spot-lessly clean in the desert with all that sand and dust flying around??  

Some things tells me that this wans't just a casual test drive and photosnaps of the event but the whole thing was setup between Autocar and the Landrover to get the best advertisement possible...

Autocar- doing someone some favours again??

17 September 2012

with Autocar, the car will be a success. I'm a died in the wool Mercedes fan, but i have to admit that there isn't anything out there as competent as the Range Rover, nor probably during its forty year tenure. Okay, i'm not very keen on the side vents...admittedly, they don't look very stylish, nor the Early Learning Centre disguise but, it'll sell in droves. Particularly over there, and the overall Evoquesk curvature will grow on me. Not that i'd ever be able to afford one..life on the coconut matting is cosy, really. But, the sad thing for me is, as i take a keen interest in the business arena is, it takes the likes of TATA to take a brand and develop it, place it, tweek and move it up the premium ladder very successfully. BMW the same with Mini. Sadly, British industrials seem to be lacking leaving it to the likes of Indian/German/American industrialists to show us how its done. Nobody could imagine the transformation that Jaguar has undergone in recent years. Another example would Alan Mulally at Ford, just look at the job he did with Boeing, steering it through the dark years. A bold and brave move unveiling last week the biggest co-ordinated production launch in the companies history, with most of the vehicles destined for the uk market too, giving us desirable products which customers want to buy. No wonder Alan's smile was beeming from ear to ear. Congratulations and well done to the Captain's of Industry that give UK PLC something to be proud of.

17 September 2012

"The Range Rover glides along, its new all-electric power steering smoothly and precisely, changing our direction into tiny alleyways."

Hmm...this vehicle is too large to get into tiny alleyways. Period.

17 September 2012

Terrain Response gets an ‘automatic’ setting, which lets the car decide which settings are appropriate to the occasion. Dropping tyre pressures to 15psi and placing Terrain Response into sand mode - Wouldnt a better test have been to see how it coped in auto mode? 

Our cabin temperature refuses to budge from the 21degC it has maintained all afternoon. - Just because thats what it says on the climate control doesnt mean it is, or did he have a seperate thermometer?

We’re in the V6 diesel now, but there’s very little difference in power delivery. Just a two per cent smoothness deficiency - How do you measure 2% smoothness deficiency, has he got a smoothness meter?

Dont get me wrong, I am a big fan of JLR, but if the product is that good it doesnt need all the corporate waffle, it will speak for itself upon release.



18 September 2012

To get a real feel of how they drive, ride with one of JLR's engineers/test drivers along the Fosseway, they're menaces.

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