2013 Range Rover review
By Bob Hume, 14th February 2013
It’s hard for a bloke like me not to like Range Rovers. There’s not much that can compete with the branding and heritage, although BMW and Audi have had a decent crack at it. It’s big, opulent and simply better at being both a luxury car and an off-roader and nothing else has the same superior poise.
First launched in 1970, not much happened in terms of design and engineering for 26 years and it didn’t really need to. Land Rover had invented a new type of car and its position in the market remained dominant – it still does.
Surprisingly, the first generation didn’t start life as a luxury 4x4 but more of a utility car to partner the ‘Series’ Land Rover. It swiftly developed prestige during early life when things like air conditioning and leather seats were added.
As you can imagine, the Range Rover has come a long way in its 42 years. Now in its fourth generation, the new car is nothing short of a masterclass in design and engineering - this has been recognised by the various accolades that it has already received.
This time around it’s more efficient, luxurious and spacious and when it was launched in Paris last year, there was an emphasis placed on even better road and off-road ability.
Approaching the new car, I realised just how impressive it looks in the flesh. The outgoing model is undeniably smart but this is even easier to look at. The exterior is brand new but still manages to retain the aesthetic identity of its predecessors.
The new Range Rover is substantially lighter, leading to greater efficiency. It’s difficult to imagine how almost half a tonne has been saved but it has a lot to do with advances in the monocoque chassis and new aluminium body.
I was offered the loan of a 4.4-litre TDV8 by Michael Henry from Charles Hurst Land Rover. This road test took place just as I’d left back the excellent new Freelander 2, which meant that I’d another capable all-rounder, albeit from the same stable to compare it with.
Right away, I was aware of the new car’s increased agility on the road and it’s easy to forget that it’s a huge vehicle. The outgoing car also excelled in this area but the latest Range Rover beats everything else in its class.
Weaving through rush-hour traffic in Belfast was an awful lot easier than you‘d imagine and thanks to the elevated driving position and clear views all round, I could easily see where I was going and where I‘d been. You can also view a number of angles on the central display, that are otherwise impossible to see from the cabin, thanks to cameras placed at various points.
There‘s not much that can compete with it off-road either. Our area was particularly badly hit with the snow a few weeks ago and it didn‘t skip a beat. It was as sure-footed in snow, ice and frozen, rutted lanes as anything I‘ve ever driven. The Terrain Response system has been updated and is now even smarter – even the default position, it is clever enough to adapt to surfaces but the driver can select a terrain type manually.
One anomaly that makes the Range Rover special is that it needs to be considered as an executive car and even a limousine, as well as an SUV. This is the chosen transport for dignitaries across the globe and the reasons are obvious. This car takes comfort and refinement to a new level.
The cabin is sublimely luxurious, as you’d expect. You feel spoilt by the decadence of wood, metal and other materials, as well as the sheer comfort and space. I found the electrically adjustable, leather-clad seats are more comfortable than any of the furniture in my house, particularly because none of my armchairs can heat, cool or massage me.
Air suspension ensures that driver and passengers are saved from feeling most bumps on the road and track whilst active dampers and air springs limit body-roll. Engine, road and wind noise are all a mere whisper under normal driving conditions but reassuringly, there is a lovely subtle sound from the big diesel V8 when you hoof it a bit.
The overwhelming impression that I had of the new Range Rover was of wide versatility. It’s not only practical, luxurious, fleet-footed, agile and brilliant off-road but it’s now lighter, more economical and more efficient.
As I mentioned before, I find it tough not to love this car but thanks to an awful lot of hard work, Land Rover has now made it impossible.
Our thanks to Michael Henry from Charles Hurst Land Rover for arranging the loan.
Charles Hurst Land Rover
Hurst Auto Complex
62 Boucher Road
Tel: 028 9038 3435
Visit the website by clicking this link: www.charleshurst.landrover.co.uk