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.”