New Range Rover review, test drive
4th Feb 2013 10:01 pm
The all-new Range Rover has serious off-roading capabilities. But how does this luxury SUV fare on Mumbai's crowded roads?
Forget the new Range Rover’s off-road ability for a minute and concentrate on what we’re going to take it through today. We have it for an entire day in the confines of Mumbai, and let’s face facts – Mumbai’s ‘beautifully’ surfaced roads and ‘organised’ traffic are the worst the Indian Range Rover is ever going to see. It’s a good thing then that this fourth-generation Range Rover is such a capable car.
The minute you climb inside, you know it’s special. You immediately settle into the 18-way powered seat (that has a massage function), realise that everything in the cabin here reeks of quality and the dashboard has been simplified to beautifully elementary levels. Special bits in the cabin include the inside door handles that feel like they’ve been moulded from a billet of aluminium and the touchscreen responds with the accuracy and eagerness of an iPhone.
Press the button to start the engine and the fully digital dials light up and eight diesel cylinders come to life with a distant, barely perceptible shudder. You also notice how little outside noise is getting in, and the little that is, you can easily drown out with the fantastic Meridian sound system.
It’s easy to manoeuvre this Goliath through traffic because, like all range Rover’s before it, the visibility is good and the electric steering is light and fluid in the way it operates. The window line is low and the seat places you where you can see the bonnet, rather than have you guess where it is.
Under the hood, beneath an unimpressive plastic cover, sits a 4.4-litre common-rail diesel making a healthy 334bhp and 71.3kgm of torque. There’s a faint V8 ‘woofle’ if you stretch the engine, but most of the time, it just glides. Gear changes via the eight-speed auto are impressively unobtrusive and you can operate it manually through the shift paddles for extra zing or engine braking.
Performance, when you want it, is strong, though you would never guess it from the confines of the cabin. Its unflustered gathering of speed is entirely proper and fitting with the nature of the Range Rover. 0-100kph comes up in 8.2sec and the Range Rover will run all the way to a claimed 215kph top-speed.
Then there’s the way the Range Rover rides. The huge columns of air that serve as struts simply gobble up everything that comes under the massive 20-inch wheels and transfers little of that to the cabin. If we were to nit-pick, it would be with the tiny bit of lumpiness over small, high-frequency unevenness and a wee bit of body movement, but that’s it. Otherwise, it feels entirely stable and completely planted in a straight line.
Approach a corner with enthusiasm and you’ll find it rolls a bit, and isn’t as comfortable being pushed hard like a Porsche Cayenne or a BMW X5. This despite active anti-roll bars and an all-aluminium chassis that make it a whopping 250kg lighter than the earlier Range Rover.
Still, this is not much of an issue and it’s also safe to assume that a lot of owners will be chauffeur-driven. The Autobiography comes with what Range Rover calls Executive-class seating. It consists of two individual seats that are very spacious, very comfortable and give you a great view out. There are individual screens for the rear passengers controlled by a rather funky-looking touch-screen remote and even a small refrigerator!
Owners will also appreciate the sheer presence this Range Rover has. Our test car, with its silver contrast roof looked particularly nice and there are enough visual clues to differentiate this one from the old one. Simply look for the Evoque-like headlamps, the new tail-lamps and the huge faux gills along the front doors that serve to minimise the visual bulk of the car.
Off-road, this Range Rover has an impressive CV. Permanent four-wheel drive, low range, an optional active rear-locking differential, hill descent control and Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 (it adjusts throttle maps, differential settings, ABS and traction control settings for different terrain), and a tremendous 900mm wading depth. Also, unlike most of its rivals, this new Range Rover comes with a full-size spare wheel.
So, in short, this new Range Rover is everything a Range Rover is, only better. This car, in diesel Autobiography spec costs Rs 1.79 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi). For that price you’ll get a car that’s up there with a Rolls Royce on luxury with the go-anywhere capability of a mountain goat. Sounds like the perfect car for India doesn’t it? If you’ve got that kind of money lying around, you may find it worth the price.
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