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'DNA' drive: The new Range Rover

Friday, 14 September 2012 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
42 years and three generations of Range Rovers after, Land Rover has introduced the fourth version that promises to have a huge fan following.

42 years and three generations of Range Rovers after, Land Rover has introduced the fourth version that promises to have a huge fan following.

The Halewood, UK-based automaker wanted to better its existing flagship sports utility vehicle (SUV), which it claims is the best yet. DNA Drive previewed the upcoming Range Rover in the UK last week. How does it feel? Read on.

Design
The design of the Range Rover is such that no matter how distant its unique silhouette is, you know it’s a Range Rover. That being the starting point, Land Rover’s job was half-done. So, the clamshell hood, the floating roof and the split tailgate remain in the latest iteration. The headlamps are sleeker and also pulled back, steering away from the predecessor’s rectangularity. Clearly, these are inspired by the Evoque. The front grille design has also been tweaked a bit, along with the fogs.

The side metal scoop no longer exists, the rocker now looks more muscular and also the slope of the D-pillar has been reduced. The tail lamps are now LED, and some part of it stretches closer to the C-pillar.

The new Range Rover is the first SUV to have an all-aluminium monocoque construction, which makes it 420 kg lighter than the outgoing version. Land Rover said that’s slashed the weight by an impressive 39% and aerodynamic drag by 10%. The co-efficient of drag, or CD, is now just 0.34 – that’s great aerodynamics belying its squarish frontage.

Interiors
At first glance, the new Range Rover looks luxurious, with fantastic ergonomics. It gets an all-new steering wheel design while the centre console gets a brown and beige trim. There are some wood finish touches and the rising gear knob— just like in the Evoque— replaces the conventional gear stick.

The centre console gets the new touchscreen system that’s again seen in the Evoque, a facelift version of Jaguar XF and the 2012 MY XJ.

This is the Meridian audio system that’s available with three options. The top variant produces a staggering 1700 watts through, hold your breath, 27 speakers! One can also choose the rear seats as a regular seating for three or the special rear seat package, which will have only two seats — for the ultimate in languid luxury. BTW, this is the first Range Rover to get powered upper and lower tailgates.

There is sufficient space in the front row; even the seats are large and comfortable. The wheelbase has been increased by 40mm and so has the interior leg space in the second row by 118mm, thereby affording ample room for the rear seat passengers.

Engines and Transmission
Land Rover is now offering four-engine options— two diesel, one petrol and a diesel hybrid. A 3.0-litre TDV6 is being offered on a Range Rover for the first time, thanks to the reduction in weight. The TDV6’s pistons have been redesigned and it now produces 256bhp of power and 600Nm of peak torque. Despite being less powerful than the 4.4-litre TDV8, Land Rover claims it to have the same performance and also downsizing has helped enhance the fuel efficiency.

The 4.4-litre TDV8 is still on offer, though it has undergone a sea change and it is now 10 kg lighter and there is an improvement in its performance by 9%, when compared with the previous generation Range Rover. This oil burner now produces 336bhp of power and 700Nm of torque. The 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine is still on the offering.

Another new addition is the diesel hybrid that is powered by the 3.0-litre TDV6 oil burner. The 1.7KWh electric motor produces 68bhp and both the mills together produce a maximum power of 336bhp, making it the first all-terrain hybrid vehicle. The hybrid will be launched by mid-2013 in Europe.

All the engines will come mated to an eight-speed auto shifting ZF transmission. The eight-speed helps improve the torque curve and also increase the fuel efficiency while cruising on highways.

Off-roading capability
The new Range Rover gets the next generation Terrain Response system.  This analyses the current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings for the terrain. To ensure exceptional durability and reliability, the new model has been subjected to Land Rover’s punishing on- and off-road test and development regime. The luxury SUV also gets four-corner air suspension, which makes ride plusher than the previous generation, and JLR claims an enhancement in its handling characteristics and also steering feel.

Verdict
The new Range Rover looks extremely, extremely competitive on paper. We will share our verdict once we drive it. Suffice to say we are very excited because it seems one heck of an SUV.  We expect it to land on Indian shores by the end of this year or sometime early next year. The price of the base model will be similar to the current offering, while the top-of-the-line model will be expensive.


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