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Range Rover review (2013 onwards)
What – Range Rover 2013
Date – October 2012
Where – Marrakech, Morocco
Price – £71,295 - £98,395
Available – January 2013
Key rivals –Mercedes-Benz ML, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi Q7, Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT Flying Spur
Now faster and greener than ever, the Range Rover combines comfort and off-road ability like no other. And its new lighter, lower body is still instantly recognisable.
We like – High-class interior, good economy from new diesel, peerless off-road ability.
We don’t like – Instrument and sat-nav screens, luggage capacity doesn’t match luxury saloons’, waiting for the height to adjust when jumping in and out.
It’s 42 years since Land Rover introduced the first Range Rover. Now the fourth generation is about to go on sale, we are left with the same dilemma. What do you compare it with?
The easy answer is other big sports utility vehicles like the Audi Q7, Mercedes ML or BMW X5. But the Range Rover also successfully stands up against luxury saloons, like the Jaguar XJ and Mercedes S-Class. There are no basic versions of the Range Rover. Every one is luxurious.
With prices starting beyond £70,000, that’s as it should be. The new model is more expensive than ever with £100,000 readily attainable. There are some sound reasons for the high price tag.
Over the years the Range Rover had become increasingly heavy and reliant upon brute power to provide the performance. The 2013 model is very different indeed, primarily because the structure is now constructed entirely from aluminium.
That gives a massive weight saving; 450kg is the headline figure, though that’s slightly misleading and the real figure is closer to 300kg when comparing like with like. Still, it’s a helpful saving.
The popular 4.4-litre V8 diesel model gets a 10% hike in power, allowing the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel from the Range Rover Sport to slot in below. It’s this new model that maximises the Range Rover’s weight saving.
The design is obviously Range Rover, but also obviously new. The roof is a touch lower, the screen raked back more, the front wheels pushed further forward. It looks less majestic but far more modern.
Now the choice is not simply petrol or diesel Range Rover, but V6 or V8. Before long a supercharged V6 petrol model and a V6 diesel hybrid will be added to the model lineup, but today the question is whether the new 258hp V6 turbodiesel has the standards necessary to grace a Range Rover.
With 339hp, instant response is always available
The base-line figures are good, promising similar performance to the old V8 turbo diesel, and on the road that proves to be the case. You may need to mash the throttle harder and closer to the floor to do it, but the 3.0 TDV6 is very impressive.
For overtaking, the acceleration doesn’t quite have the magnificent pickup of the old V8, but it’s strong and likely to satisfy the majority of Range Rover drivers. Certainly anyone who tolerated the abysmal BMW six-cylinder diesel in earlier incarnations will find the TDV6 a revelation.
The 4.4 SDV8 is better, though. Now with 339hp and enormous torque, instant response is always available. And then there is the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine with 510hp. It’s a barmy choice but still one we can understand if you have Premier League pockets.
There’s a new automatic transmission that has so many gears (eight) that you fail to notice when the changes slip seamlessly up and down. With a sport mode and paddle shifters, there’s involvement too when you can be bothered.
Ride and handling
We had to be bothered in Morocco. From driving along miles of beach and through sand dunes, to rugged rock climbs and river beds, to scary tracks winding for an hour up the side of the Moroccan Atlas mountains, Land Rover forced us to see what its new car could do.
There were times when I questioned whether I was really up for any more of this dirt track, with its sheer drops, lack of barriers and the occasional local barrelling down towards us. Yet the Range Rover has such a suite of off-road tools only driver error was going to spoil things.
For some years Land Rovers have had Terrain Response. Twiddle a knob to sand, or rocks, or snow and so on, and electronics set the suspension, transmission, brakes and hill control to the optimum setting. It’s idiot-proof.
Except now you don’t even have to twiddle the knob. The Range Rover somehow works it all out for you, and it proves as formidable as ever in every conceivable situation.
There’s more to it than this, though. Pitched against luxury cars, the Range Rover has to excel on ordinary roads and motorways too. It does this well too, settling down to a quite, relaxed cruise even at 100mph, with very little wind noise and a comfortable ride. Remarkable.
The interior may be all new but there is no mistaking the reassuringly solid dashboard. Yet it has changed, with the button count down by almost 50%, giving a neater, more sophisticated appearance. Shoulder room seems slightly greater and there’s a useful increase in rear legroom.
The lower roof apparently doesn’t have much detrimental effect. Seat comfort in the rear is superb. Optional are Business Class seats – two plush individual armchairs with a wide centre console. They are well served with impressive climate control that’s better than most cars get for front occupants.
The issue with Business Class is that the seats don’t fold forward, so no extension of the luggage capacity is possible. And even regular Range Rovers get reclining rear seats in the back.
The cars we drove in Morocco all had optional luxury seats that were as soft and reassuring as the womb. There’s an issue with the headrests on these though, they were simply so large that some smaller drivers found their head pushed forward too much.
Start playing with the options list and you’ll come across the Meridian audio system that offers 29 speakers and 1,700 watts. It’s nice, though you’ll need full-fat CDs rather than MP3 to really enjoy the benefits.
The leather is from Bridge of Weir. It’s soft and sensuous and, with a modest application of wood and aluminium, the interior is tasteful and a full luxury class contender.
Economy and safety
The headline story here is the TDV6, which offers a 22% cut in emissions over the old TDV8, to 196g/km. That translates into a combined economy of 37.7mpg, a figure closely matched by the trip computer on the test car in Morocco.
It makes the low-thirties we achieved in our long-term 2.2-litre diesel Evoque seem even more disappointing. The Range Rover V8 turbo diesel now averages 32.5mpg with CO2 of 229g/km, and the supercharged V8 a more worrying 20.5 mpg and 322g/km.
The aluminium bodyshell isn’t quite as stiff as the previous model but Land Rover says it is safer than ever. Certainly the list of safety features appears to measure up to those of rivals.
The MSN Cars verdict
The new Range Rover is simply brilliant. The showroom appeal of the interior has moved further up the scale, matching the large luxury saloons even if the luggage space may not.
On the road the essential Range Rover DNA is all there, with peerless off-road ability and great on-road performance. It’s a car that's hard to dislike.
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