The journalists are back from Morocco having sampled the fourth generation Range Rover on some of the world’s most demanding roads for the first time. The question is whether the new car, which has consumed hundreds of millions in development resources is the leap forward over the outgoing L322 – itself hardly shabby – that Land Rover says it is. Let’s see what the major UK magazines had to say about it…
You never quite forget that you’re driving a two-tonne, top-heavy SUV but the Range Rover is remarkably agile. It feels precise and confidence-inspiring at all speeds and on all surfaces – even sand and rocks. Best of all, it rides with a suppleness that eludes most luxury saloons, let alone other SUVs. It’ll get you further into the wilderness than most other SUVs, too.
Elegant simplicity is what the Range Rover’s cabin is all about. The excellent driving position means it’s incredibly comfortable, and you’ll also enjoy the traditional Range Rover visibility; you can see all four corners of the car from the driver’s seat. Most of the major functions are controlled by easy-to-use knobs, the dials are clear and the touch-screen infotainment system is intuitive and simple to understand.
I summary, it’s brilliant on- and off road and reasonably efficient if you buy a V6 diesel. Truly a rival for the best luxury saloons, and has a prodigious ability to climb mountains and cross deserts. It’s expensive to buy and will be painfully expensive to run if you go for one of the V8s.
The new Range Rover SDV8 is no bargain — the cheapest in the range is £70,000-plus — but this new model is better in every respect, and its margins of improvement are instantly obvious, even over a machine as good as the outgoing L322 Range Rover.
Our settled opinion must await a direct comparison, but we reckon it’s overwhelmingly likely this 2013 Range Rover sets a new SUV standard for the world. JLR certainly thinks so: brand boss John Edwards expects annual sales to eclipse the previous best (32,000 units in 2007) by posting ‘a figure with a four in front’ in the first full year, and it might even do better than that.
An automotive icon improved. The new Range Rover does the luxury thing better than many more expensive luxury cars, with off-road ability that’s the best bar none. It’s not quite perfect – access and space in the back isn’t fantastic and we’re not fans of the touchscreen infotainment system. But it gets closer to perfect than anything else at the money and is a fantastic engineering and styling achievement.
It’s very different to drive than the previous model is the short answer. The chief difference is in the steering, which feels much more direct than before, thanks to an all-new electrically powered steering rack and revised front suspension design. The sweetest steering version of all is the TDV6, thanks to it having the lightest engine (the 254bhp TDV6 is 200kg lighter overall than the new SDV8).
This makes a bigger difference than you might expect because both the ride and engine refinement seem to be better on the smaller engined model too, even though Land Rover says spring rates and damping are very similar across the model range.
While the TDV6 offers more than adequate performance (0-60mph 7.4sec, 130mph top speed), there’s a significant jump in perceived power when you get behind the wheel of the SDV8 that’s most noticeable when overtaking. Once up to motorway speeds though, there’s little to choose between the two diesel models in terms of quietness, with the bigger diesel turning over at a mere 1400rpm at 70mph.
It’s expensive when you compare it to the outgoing model. Ignoring the £71,295 TDV6 entry model, like-for-like pricing on the V8 diesel model has increased by close to £15-20,000 compared to its predecessor. Land Rover says the average price of the new Range Rovers it already has in its order bank is close to £94,000, and on the supercharged Autobiography models it’s running at close to £120,000.
Land Rover has created the ultimate luxury car that just happens to be rather good off-road as well as cossetting its fortunate owners. It’s taken a big leap forward dynamically, and built on the already world-class interior, to become what should be the best all-rounder in the world, even if the top-priced models are now £100,000-plus without breaking a sweat. We can’t wait to try on in a more representative test in the UK.
Currently, Land Rover can do no wrong, and it will be interesting to see if the L405 maintains the company’s momentum in the coming years – all the signs are that it will, and that the growing eastern markets that seem to have an insatiable appetite for this kind of car will find it an irresistible proposition.