The Range Rover has been the defining luxury SUV since the first model made its appearance 42 years ago. So pragmatic was the concept that Land Rover has only seen fit to renew the model four times in as many decades.
As is typical with nearly every model line, the Range Rover (known internally as the L405) is larger and far more luxurious than its forebear. But it has also retained and built upon the unparalleled off-road capabilities that made the original such a resounding success amongst the world’s elite in the first place.
To find out what improvements engineers and designers made to this iconic model we headed to Morocco to put the car through its paces.
Still recognizable as a Range Rover, the fourth generation car has more elegant proportions and features a fresh interpretation of characteristic design elements, such as the clamshell bonnet, undercut shoulderline and floating. This is continued through its flanks, which now features superfluous gills to detract from the car’s overall visual length. These contradict the purity of the otherwise simple, function-over-form aesthetic.
Climb aboard and the Range Rover’s defining ‘Command’ driving position is no longer as upright as it’s predecessors’, though visibility is still exceptional. Appointed in a combination of two colours, the cabin is swathed in high-grade materials – its leather trimmed dashboard and headlining and a broad center console have a real sense of occasion. The switchgear has also been reduced by 50 per cent to augment the spacious feel if the interior – what remains has a high perceived and tactile quality.
But while it’s cabin is spacious and well appointed, there are a few details that appear unnecessary and could get annoying over time, such as the redundant fold down armrests which get in the way of fastening the seat belt. The high mounted window switches on the door are not ergonomically ideal either, though they are far better than the console-mounted switches on the P38.
The 46mm longer wheelbase has improved rear leg and knee room, and an Executive Class seating option is now available. On offer for an extra £2550 on Autobiography models (£3860 on the middle-of-the-range Vogue SE), the seating features massage functions and seatbacks that recline a full nine degrees, two degrees more than the standard rear bench.
Access has also been improved. A new air suspension now includes a 50mm lower access height, to make ingress and egress from the sumptuous cabin less of a chore, and the defining split tailgate has been re-proportioned to make loading and unloading the boot easier.
But with these added conveniences comes a few sacrifices. Though longer and wider, the rear load space is 85 liters smaller with the rear seats up, and the new car’s capacity has also decreased by 69-litres with the seats down. Customers that opt for the Executive rear seat option relinquish even more functionality, as the seats cannot be folded.
Performance and Handling
Driving the Range Rover is effortless, and equally comfortable at 120mph on the motorway or 5mph through streams and up sheer rock faces.
The new V6 diesel and aluminium body construction has allowed engineers to make the car 420kg lighter than its V8-powered entry-level predecessor. This can be felt not only in its better straight-line acceleration and braking performance but also in its roadholding ability, which is further enhanced by a new independent suspension system and Land Rover’s second-generation Dynamic Response system.
The two-channel system controls the front and rear axles independently and can be tuned to enhance low speed agility or stability at speed. Crucially, it reduces body roll when cornering but can also detect and eliminate body rock when travelling over uneven terrain. When paired with Land Rover’s sophisticated second generation All Terrain Response system, which can now adjust vehicle height, throttle sensitivity and wheel slip automatically, the Range Rover is able to travel anywhere you wish to go.
The TDV6 we drove is a good fit for the Range Rover as it benefits greatly from the lightweight aluminum body, suspension and chassis components, but it is a brilliantly refined powerplant in its own right. Developing 258PS at 4000rpm and 600Nm of torque, the engine propels the new Range Rover to 60mph from a standstill in 7.4 seconds. While those aren’t sports car figures, it’s certainly no slouch. Even while accelerating the cabin remains quiet and it doesn’t sound like an old workhorse once you step outside either. This is engineering at its finest.