The Range Rover is the reigning king of the road when it comes to luxury SUVs, though Land Rover's iconic 4WD will face an increasing number of competitors in the next few years as the likes of Bentley and Maserati enter the arena.
The automotive landscape has also changed considerably in the 42 years since Rover Cars effectively created the luxury SUV segment when it launched a four-wheel-drive in 1970 that was designed to take Land Rover from the farm to the road.
And there’s continual pressure on big vehicles – especially the SUVs that have even been the subject of Greenpeace protests – to reduce their burden on the environment.
So it’s no surprise that Land Rover has aimed to pull out all the stops for the fourth-generation version of the Range Rover, which has just been revealed in England.
Here’s CarAdvice's guide to everything that’s new, and special, about the 2013 Range Rover.
“We looked at every facet of transforming the vehicle, but weight is the key piece,” says the vehicle line director for Range Rover, Nick Rogers. And indeed the most stunning statistic relating to the new model is that it has pared up to 420 kilograms in weight.
The biggest loser, the TDV6, now hits the scales at 2160kg, followed by the 5.0-litre V8 (2200kg), TDV8 (2360kg) and 5.0-litre supercharged V8 (2330kg).
Central to the weight loss is the switch from steel to aluminium construction that produced a 40 per cent lighter body shell – down 180kg. Land Rover proudly claims the new Range Rover as the world’s first aluminium monocoque SUV, and that 85 per cent of the vehicle is recyclable.
The Range Rover’s new “unique and bespoke” platform shares no common parts with a model from sister company Jaguar, says Land Rover, while the aluminium architecture will also underpin the next Range Rover Sport – due later in 2013 – and Land Rover Discovery 5, due 2014, both of which currently share a different platform to the outgoing ‘Rangie’.
The body construction of the Range Rover is inspired by aerospace technology. Although it’s assembled in a similar sequence to a steel boy, the Range Rover body is riveted rather than spot-welded.
The two Range Rovers and new Disco will be built at a new state of the art aluminium manufacturing plant in Solihull that cost Land Rover $530 million.
DIMENSIONS & DESIGN
The Range Rover has grown further, with an extra 27mm stretching the SUV to virtually five metres (4999mm). The roofline is 20mm lower. A 2922mm wheelbase is 40mm longer.
Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern said the company had to be careful not to “endanger the Range Rover’s DNA”, so there isn’t the same kind of head-turning styling as the Evoque. There’s a nod to the smaller Rangie with a roofline that tapers slightly more at the rear than the previous model, while overall there’s a sportier, more swept-back profile compared with the more upright third generation.
The body-to-glass ratio is more biased towards the aluminium than before, with a full panoramic roof helping to balance any loss of light from the DLO (daylight opening).
Three vertical ‘vents’ continue on the front doors as a design cue only.
PERFORMANCE & FUEL EFFICIENCY
The aforementioned weight reduction has flow-on benefits for both speed and consumption. Firstly, it’s enabled Land Rover to introduce a six-cylinder – a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel.
This engine improves efficiency by 22 per cent compared with the V8 turbo diesel it replaces. Official consumption is just 7.5 litres per 100km, with CO2 emissions of 196g/km – aided by an engine stop-start system. The Range Rover TDV6 produces 190kW of power and 600Nm of torque and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds.
A 4.4-litre TDV8 diesel with 250kW/700Nm is a second quicker in that sprint (and a second quicker than the previous high-output TDV8), and has consumption and emissions of 8.7L/100km and 229g/km respectively.
Two petrol engines offered at launch are both 5.0-litre V8s and also teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission, one boosted by supercharging.
The V8 not aided by forced induction is the only one of the four engines not forming part of the Australian Range Rover line-up, but for the record it reaches 100km/h from standstill in 6.8 seconds, uses 12.8 litres of fuel per 100km and emits 299 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
The flagship supercharged V8 Range Rover is the quickest of all (and 0.8sec quicker than before), with a 5.1-second acceleration time, though it’s also the thirstiest (13.8L/100km) and dirtiest (322g/km). It also has the shortest theoretical range – 776km from a 105L tank.
The Range Rover TDV8 has the potential to travel 1215km on one tank, while the TDV6 could go 1149km despite having a smaller tank than other models (85L).
Land Rover’s first hybrid model will be a Range Rover powered by a diesel-electric drivetrain. Click to read our more detailed story on the hybrid model that has target figures of 6.3L/100km and 169g/km.
The Range Rover became the first SUV in the world to adopt air suspension in 1992 and is again retained with variable ride height. This time it’s combined with an all-new aluminium suspension design that sees the front struts replaced by double A-arms, with a multi-link arrangement at the rear.
Land Rover claims the Rangie delivers class-leading wheel travel and articulation.
A Dynamic Response system is designed to reduced body roll (and ‘head toss’ off road), while Adaptive Dynamics is a Jaguar-Land Rover technology that automatically varies the suspension – by monitoring vehicle movements 500 times a second as well as road and driver inputs – to find the best balance of ride comfort and body control.
No other premium SUV, whether from Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, has been able to match the Range Rover’s formidable capability off the bitumen.
For generation four, there’s a second version of Land Rover’s clever Terrain Response system that allows the driver, via a simple dial, to adjust the vehicle’s settings for a particular surface, whether grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand, and rock crawl. This time the system can automatically detect the surface and vary the Rangie’s traction and drivetrain characteristics according.
There’s permanent all-wheel drive, of course, with a two-speed transfer box than can be switched into low range at up to 60km/h for tricky terrain or towing (up to 3500kg).
An electronically controlled multi-plate clutch varies torque between the wheels and features a centre diff lock. An active rear diff lock is available on TDV8 and SCV8 models.
Approach, ramp-over and departure angles also increased, and wading depth is 200mm deeper, to 900mm, thanks to a revised air intake.
INTERIOR QUALITY & PERSONALISATION
A crucial area for the new Range Rover if it’s not only going to fend off challenges from new SUVs from “uber-premium” manufacturers, as it calls the likes of Bentley and Maserati, but even steal from those same brands customers who were thinking of buying a high-end luxury sedan.
Land Rover promises a greater blend of natural and expensive materials for the cabin than ever before. There are soft, supple leathers, real metal trim pieces, and various wood veneers, the latter from sustainable sources and handcrafted for areas such as the centre console and door panels.
Leather seats feature twin-needle stitching, and more expensive variants – such as the Autobiography – gain superior Semi Aniline hide.
Customers will have greater choices when it comes to personalisation. There are more than 18,000 combinations of exterior and interior colour choices, says Land Rover.
For the exterior, too, there is a choice of eight alloy wheels, ranging from 19 inches in size to 22 inches. Two contrasting roof colours are also possible: black or silver.
Land Rover says it has ensured the Range Rover’s famous command seating position continues to provide an imperious view of the road.
Rear seat passengers are treated to more space than the outgoing model that wasn’t particularly generous.
Rear legroom increases by 118mm, accompanied by an extra 50mm of knee space.
A long-wheelbase version – not seen since 1992 – is rumoured to be in the pipeline, to boost the Range Rover’s appeal in critical markets such as Russia and China where the back seat can be all important.
An optional Executive Class rear seat brings two individual, fully adjustable pews.
A new climate control system can cater for up to four zones depending on variant, there are multi-mode massage seats, a digital instrument cluster, generously sized touchscreens and Meridian sound systems that have replaced Bowers & Wilkins audios throughout the Jaguar-Land Rover ranges.
A series of radars incorporated into the Range Rover provide driver assist technologies that include blind spot monitoring with improved field of vision, a reverse traffic detection system that employs radars in each corner of the rear bumpers to scan for approaching vehicles when reversing out of a driveway or parking spot, plus an adaptive cruise control system that can bring the Range Rover to an automatic standstill from freeway speeds. The driver needs to press the accelerator for half a second to re-engage the system, but from there it will automatically hold a safe distance to the vehicle ahead.
Additionally, there’s a surround-view camera system that features a so-called T-junction view that helps the driver pull out safely, plus guidance systems for parallel parking, trailer reversing and trailer hitching.
The new Range Rover reaches Australian Land Rover showrooms in January 2013 and will be priced from $168,900.
Click to read full details of Australian pricing and specifications for the 2013 Range Rover.
Click to view a comprehensive photo gallery of the 2013 Range Rover.