Land Rover is putting the finishing touches to the design and engineering of an all-new Range Rover, a milestone that marks the company’s next phase of new-model launches.
Scheduled for sale in 2013, the all-new Range Rover 4 starts the replacement cycle for the next-generation Range Rover Sport, Discovery, Freelander and Defender, plus possible additional new models.
It’s a crucial model, and with this in mind, the new Range Rover will feature a key development: an aluminium bodyshell.
With sharper styling, a super-luxury interior, new engines, modified running gear and a possible hybrid powertrain, top-spec models might even nudge into Bentley territory with prices of around £100,000.
A lighter, stronger 4x4
The centrepiece of the Range Rover’s ambitious makeover is an aluminium bodyshell riveted and glued together using technology already proven on Jaguar’s XJ saloon. Although Ford has yet to give final approval to this significant development, insiders expect the green light in the next few months. “We’re just waiting to hear ‘go’,” said one source.
The alloy body is forecast to save around 40 per cent of the weight of the Range Rover’s unpainted bodyshell, which translates into a saving of between 300kg and 400kg. In effect, Land Rover is aiming for a kerb weight of around 2200-2300kg, less than today’s car, while keeping the Range Rover’s stately presence and roomy, luxurious cabin.
As well as having a beneficial effect on fuel economy and CO2 emissions, the lighter Range Rover should ride and handle better and steer with more agility.
Land Rover engineers are understood to be confident that they know enough about the effects of off-road driving on aluminium to be sure of no durability or warranty problems. “When we’ve had problems before, it’s been where steel and alloy are joined together,” said another insider. “With all alloy those problems go away.”
Fresh styling is a key feature of the project, codenamed L405. Land Rover’s new design boss, Gerry McGovern, and his Gaydon-based team are working on distinct styling directions for Land Rover and Range Rover under the buzz words ‘premium adventure’ for Land Rover and ‘premium sophistication’ for Range Rover.
Two themes are being developed for the Range Rover, one more radical than the other. According to sources, the more conservative design is favoured at the moment. Land Rover has some time to make up its mind, since a decision isn’t due until early in 2008. That gives engineers three and a half years to get the concept into production.
The main feature of the new design is understood to be a slightly more compact look with a lower roofline, less top-heavy glasshouse and tighter front and rear overhangs. Attention to detail will shrink the car visually, while ensuring it oozes luxury and retains road presence.
5.0-litre V8 power
Engines will be a mix of new and revamped units, co-developed with Jaguar. Two versions of an all-new direct injection 5.0-litre petrol V8 are in the pipeline: one with and one without a supercharger. Expect power outputs of around 350bhp and 460bhp.
Fresh diesels are coming, too. Land Rover’s new 3.6-litre TDV8 will be stretched to 4.0 litres with a consequent rise in power and torque. Expect a peak of around 300bhp and 520lb ft.
A hybrid powertrain is also a tantalising and likely possibility to lower CO2 output. That could ease the tax pain that’s inevitably going to penalise large cars of the future.