There’s still nothing else like the Range Rover. Audi, BMW and Porsche all sell SUVs that operate in the same sphere, but not one of them is anything like as statesmanlike. Or, arguably, manages to so successfully marry on-road luxury with off-road ability.
No wonder, then, that the current car is going to its grave more popular than ever. It's certainly not flawless, though, and the all-new version that’s just about to hit Land Rover showrooms is designed to put that right.
So, this fourth-generation Range Rover is more efficient and promises superior on- and off-road credentials with even more luxurious and spacious accommodation. It’s also considerably better equipped, but pricier, too.
Aside from the sleeker – albeit slightly less imposing – new look, the Range Rover’s huge weight saving is the most obvious change. An aluminium body and a host of other technologies have conspired to make it up to 420kg lighter than the outgoing model. While other car makers are crowing about 50kg savings, this merely underlines what an advance Land Rover has made.
New Range Rover is striking, but also sleeker
In truth, it makes the car around the same weight as rivals, but it’s had a big impact on both fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The entry-level engine is now a 258bhp V6 diesel, which is fine because the car is so much lighter. It joins a V8 diesel and a supercharged V8 petrol engine, both of which are mildly more powerful and fuel-efficient than they were in the outgoing car. All come with an eight-speed auto 'box as standard, but only the V6 has a stop-start system.
What’s the 2013 Range Rover like to drive?
Drive the V6 diesel and you feel the benefits of the weight loss straight away. For starters, the car feels as swift as the outgoing V8, both getting away from the line and for overtaking urge.
It’s quieter, too. We’ve become used to refined diesels, but this one is especially cultured, even from start-up. In fact, the new diesel is now the engine of choice. It’s quieter than the V8 diesel and feels just as fast in most circumstances.
If blistering, sports car pace is on your wish list then the V8 supercharged model does deliver, but it’s also addicted to gulping petrol. You’d have to question the wisdom of buying one considering UK fuel prices.
V6 diesel is the engine of choice – it's quiet and quick
Perhaps the major advantage of the weight savings – whatever the engine – is how agile the Range Rover now feels. The old one wasn’t cumbersome, but there was always a sense of you having to drive around some of its vices – stopping distances for instance and the way you had to manhandle it through some corners.
This time it feels crisper, requires a lot less steering input and stops and turns with far more accuracy. That said, you still have to put up with a lot of body roll in corners if you opt for the V6 diesel model; the V8s come with active anti-roll bars that help the car stay remarkably flat and composed at all times.
Weight savings help improve handling noticeably
The new Range Rover is more comfortable, too. You do feel some patter over battered urban streets, but it has genuine luxury saloon suppleness at higher speeds.
Likewise, it quashes wind- and road noise to the extent that only a Mercedes S-Class is quieter, and even then the margin is negligible.
It might be a moot point for most would-be owners, but there’s still little to touch the Range Rover off road. On the sand, rock and gravel we took it across in Morocco a month back, it coped effortlessly. Particularly clever and impressive is the new Terrain Response system that surveys the obstacles ahead and then selects the optimum electronic setting to get you through it.
Terrain Response system reads the surface and selects the appropriate setting
What’s the 2013 Range Rover like inside?
One area where the Range Rover has always exhibited its luxury credentials is in the cabin. Quality of craftsmanship is even higher now and, thankfully, you still get the terrific raised seating position and all-round visibility.
The number of switches and buttons has been cut in half, so there’s even more of a feeling of elegant restraint. Most functions are now controlled via the large touch-screen display, or using a menu in the middle of the dials, although these can be distracting to use on the move.
The most welcome improvement is for rear passengers. A much longer wheelbase means that it’s far easier to get into and out of and once installed you’ve got five centimetres more kneeroom.
Luxury accommodation is improved throughout the cabin, especially in the back
For the first time there’s an ‘executive seating’ option. It’s pricey, but you get two individual electrically adjustable rear seats instead of a bench, and a central tunnel dividing them.
The boot is just as capacious as before and is accessed through the traditional split-fold tailgate, although this is now powered.
Should I buy one?
Absolutely, if you can afford it, because the one major irritation is that all this comes with a sizeable hike in the Range Rover’s price – by almost £10,000 on some models. If you can swallow this, there’s no denying that it’s a magnificent effort.
The world’s best SUV? Easily. The world’s best luxury car? It’s arguable.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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