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Old 21st November 2012, 13:42   #1
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Default Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

The Range Rover has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 1.72 - 1.84 Crores (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Timeless styling & butch presence. Significantly improved over the 3rd generation
• Spacious, comfortable & refined. Optional executive rear seats are CEO-grade
• V8 diesel’s endless torque, V8 petrol’s performance and V6 diesel’s practicality
• Excellent road manners. Aluminium chassis’ weight savings are obvious
• Off-Road Capability, unlike most premium SUVs out there
• Loaded with technology, features and safety equipment

What you won’t:

• 8-figure price tag. ~2 crore rupees on the road
• Not a hard-edged driver's SUV as the X5 or Cayenne
• Ride, though compliant, isn’t the magic carpet experience of luxury sedans
• Fuel efficiency of the V8 Petrol

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window

Last edited by GTO : 30th November 2012 at 13:48.
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Old 21st November 2012, 13:43   #2
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Default re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

The history of Range Rover and Morocco go way back to the 1970's. The terrain lends itself to all kinds of offroad activity - rocky trails, sand, snow, bad roads, steep inclines and ravines. The original Range Rover was tested extensively here; its worldwide release was supposed to have happened in Morocco, but the (then) British Leyland management decided that funds should be used for the more glamorous Triumph Stag.

Land Rover decided to wind back the clock with the new Range Rover (sounds paradoxical) and launch it in Morocco to the global media.

On display is the oldest Range Rover in existence, the prototype no. 6. It was called VELAR to fool the general public (Velar was a play on Rover and Alvis):




As a snotty nosed kid all of 8 years old, I remember getting my dad to lift me to peek in a mustard-coloured version on its release in 1970.



JLR had two options : Evolve the current shape or go in for a radical design change. As with many other "classics", the evolutionary route was chosen for the 4th gen Range Rover. The design strategy arrived at the following broad guidelines:

• Don't change it, improve it
• Push the premium boundary
• It must be capable of driving at 155 mph effortlessly
• Focus on ride quality & comfort
• 900mm wading capability
• Ability to perform at heights of 5000 meters above sea level

In short, it had to be two cars, one that is competent on road and the other which can perform offroad.
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Old 21st November 2012, 13:43   #3
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Note the characteristic clamshell bonnet (That's me in the driver's seat):


The engineering managers that I spoke to had a lot of appreciation for BMW. In the time that BMW owned Land Rover, it urged engineers to push the brand up to a more premium segment.

The new design is less static, with no fussy styling elements. The sill, roof-line and waistline all work together. Notice how the front windscreen pillar aligns directly with the front wheel. The most important element of the design is the aluminium architecture. This is the world's first 100% aluminium SUV. It consists of pressed forms that are built & riveted together with a precision rivalling aircraft standards. The frame of the tailgate is made of composite material, while the front panel is formed from magnesium. The only steel used is in the front seat frames.

This has resulted in a weight loss of up to 400 kg between the diesels, and 300 kg for the V8s. The body shell alone is 23 kg lighter than that of a BMW 3 series and 85 kg lighter than an Audi Q5's. The weight loss allowed the introduction of a panoramic roof (54 kg) which allows more light on the inside. However, from an Indian context, dealer ability to repair aluminium structures remains to be seen as it demands a different technique. When the aluminium Audi A8 first came out, UK dealers were left overwhelmed. The experience of Indian technicians in repairing aluminium bodies is still at the infancy level.

Lloyd Jones - a senior chassis engineering manager - took us to the cut-out model of the Range Rover. This cutaway piece was a pre-production test car and one that actually drives:







The Front Suspension. The bellows are reinforced so that the suspension turret doesn't puncture it in any heavy landing condition:


Rear Suspension. Check the size of the bellows:


Rear Suspension Pump is mounted on top of the battery to reduce vibrations:


Check the level of sound deadening and the amount of wiring!


The air intake is through the clam shell bonnet gap (above the headlamps). Air passes through the hollow section between the inner and outer panels:


And into the "Queen Mary" funnels to the intake. This allows air to be slowed down to prevent water droplets from entering, but maintain enough pressure for air to be fed in at high speeds:


The split tail-gate enables one to open and load items at an incline:
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Old 21st November 2012, 13:44   #4
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The interior preserves Range Rover's horizontal architecture. Moving most functions to a touch-screen display reduces clutter as there are fewer switches now. The central display controls the satnav, stereo, camera settings and other features.

The wheelbase is 42 mm longer now, while a repackaging exercise has seen rear legroom go up by 118 mm! This is significant as the car has evolved from being an SUV for the gentleman farmer to a luxury limousine. Space is immense at the front and rear, both. As you would expect of a car carrying a 1+ crore price tag, the interiors feel very luxurious. However, as opposed to the hand crafted ambience, you feel as if you are in a precision design environment. Even the stitches on the seat leather are precise. The "black on white" seats of the SCV8 did it for me. From the old Britannia clubby feel, it's more of a cool Britannia business environment.

Haul yourself into the driver's seat and the commanding view of the road ahead is impressive. You can see all four corners of the SUV, making it easy to place the car within gaps. The height you are at makes you feel you are driving a massive vehicle. In reality, you aren't. The Q7 is a couple of inches wider and this Range Rover is barely 2 cm longer than an A6. The actual length of the 4th generation has been increased by only 30 mm.

We didn't get time for a detailed instruction from the team. Rather, it was a case of just get in and drive. In that respect, the SUV is easy to get to grips with. Seat adjustments are easy and logical. The steering can be electrically adjusted using a toggle switch. The mirrors are large and afford a great all-round view. The memory settings adjust the seat, steering and mirrors too; this was handy because my co-driver was half my size. There are some quirks though. For instance, the electric window switches are placed on top of the doors while the mirror controls are in the armrest. Normally it is vice-versa! Then, the console is super wide. I couldn't reach out and operate the right side of the touch-screen display without moving far forward and getting distracted. If it were angled towards the driver, a la BMW, it would help.

The steering wheel is chunky to hold. The switches on the right side control the cruise control - very logical as opposed to hunting for it on the stalk. The wheel can also be warmed up (useful for cold weather, perhaps not in India):


Well-shaped seats. They are sufficiently contoured to hold you during offroading, and flat enough to ensure your wealth spreads out nicely:


Gearknob - Press down & brake pedal required for park, neutral & reverse. Merely twist for sport mode:


Terrain Control decides the parameters for you. This takes the fun out of goofing up off-road:


Start / Stop Button. It doesn't glow like in the Jaguars. Thankfully, no annoying stop-start system in traffic either:


The panoramic roof adds a lot to the ambience:


The standard rear bench can be electrically adjusted. It also folds down electrically, using switches in the boot. Legroom is impressive:


Rear console has the usual HVAC controls and power points:


The executive dual-seat option will make you want to lose that extra child or mother-in-law!


It's almost like flying business class. The seats are individually adjustable. That long central console houses more cupholders (I used it for my camera lenses). You do sacrifice the versatility of a folding rear seat though:


The Meridian 29 speaker audio system sounds awesome when playing from a CD, but very average with an iPod as the source:


Video screens for rear passengers:


Individual audio possible too:

Last edited by ajmat : 22nd November 2012 at 11:28.
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Old 21st November 2012, 13:44   #5
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Our Morocco drive consisted of the following:

Day 1: Drive around Essaouira, a sand dune session and rock crawling. We then take the rural route into Marrakech via gravel roads, a motorway and a long detour around town. I had the SDV8 (diesel) on day one.

Day 2: Drive towards the Atlas mountains, veer off and wade through the river. I will be driving the SCV8 (petrol) on this leg.

Our routes were coded into the GPS so we wouldn't get lost. Even the offroad trails were coded in!

Getting familiar with the car was not as intimidating as I thought it would be. Seat & mirrors set up, it was time to summon the SDV8. Prod the engine start button and the SDV8 roars to life. This is a 4.4L V8 turbo-diesel with 700 Nm of torque on tap.

Since the engine was cold, it did clatter noticeably, but the noise died down once operating temperature was reached. Conscious that I had 339 horses under my right foot, I gingerly set off. Once out of the hotel, we started picking up more speed. I realised that the car is a gentle giant and easy to control. Power delivery is linear, there is no lag so you don't need to cane the engine. It did not feel restrained either...situation is akin to having Dara Singh as your butler. You want reserves of power and it will deliver with no fuss or drama. The transmission ratios are well-matched to the torque delivered. Shifts are smooth and kickdown is responsive, but it's no DSG. The SDV8 has bags of torque and easily munches up the miles. The high torque and an 8th gear ratio mean cruising is effortless. 120 kph sees the rpm needle hovering around at 1,300 only.



The second day was spent with the petrol, a supercharged 5.0L V8 with 503 BHP & 625 Nm of torque on tap. Expectedly, the V8 petrol is more vocal and aurally more pleasurable. JLR engineers state that the NVH was intentionally tuned this way as this variant is meant for the more enthusiastic driver. At startup, the engine woofles nicely. With a light foot, the acceleration note is a soft V8 beat and not a macho AMG note. What was surprising was how much lighter and responsive this car was. Kickdown is brutally fast with the car lunging forward at the slightest opportunity. Fun on the open road, irritating in stop-start traffic. The sheer acceleration is neck snapping with the 0 - 100 kph dash dismissed off in 5.3 seconds. Compared to the SDV8, it felt light but is actually only 40 kilos lighter.

Handling-wise, the weight loss is apparent. You are conscious that the centre of gravity is lower. Turn-in is responsive and the Range Rover feels much more eager. There was very little roll that was apparent. The SUV was rock stable on fast corners and could hold its line on tighter ones as well. The Range Rover isn't as hard-edged as a Cayenne or an X5 in driving dynamics, yet it is closer. The steering feel was progressive. JLR managers did ask us a lot about this aspect and were keen to hear our feedback. It was mentioned that the Range Rover's launch was delayed, as engineers were busy fine-tuning the steering's feel. The maneuverability does belie its size, you can do a 3-point turn with ease. This is made simpler with blind spot alarms and parking aids. But don't forget, the Range Rover is still a big SUV.

Climbing up the Moroccan plateau, we had numerous hairpin bends and loose gravel to contend with. Yes, it was time for some fun. In bends where one could see that there was no oncoming traffic, I took a racing line and powered in. The car was deft and, again, the weight loss was very obvious. A group of journalists from Korea were caning their SCV8 hard and the car never seemed to lurch at all. The Dynamic Response system fitted on the V8 models greatly reduces body roll. JLR showed us comparison pictures of the old and new Range Rovers taking a curve, and the difference in roll angles was significant. The steering is accurate enough to let you know what is happening, yet it's not as tactile as the BMW X5's. The Range Rover is not a pure handling machine like the BMW or Porsche; it's a competent one.

We then merged onto the motorway. In less than 5 minutes, the Range Rover suddenly took on a different character. It became softer and noticeably more pliant. The chassis development director mentioned that, based on consistent road inputs, the chassis will adapt accordingly. Behind a truck, the adaptive cruise control automatically slowed the car and maintained a safe distance. I merely glanced at my left mirror, signalled and the car leapt forward as I pulled out into the overtaking lane. High speed braking is strong. The brakes provide good feel and are very, very powerful.

Beyond the initial clatter, the car is otherwise refined enough. Quoting JLR's figures, road noise is 65.2 dB on 22" wheels. Its nearest competitor is 67.6 dB on 18" wheels. At high speeds, the mirrors do cause a certain amount of wind noise though. I understand the front vents (in the bumper) channel air around the car to prevent buffeting.

Part of our journey saw us taking rough rural roads. Where the Range Rover wins hands down is its mile eating capacity, irrespective of the terrain. Initially, we were driving on pure loose gravel. The speeds ranged between 60 - 100 kph and there wasn't a sound or a murmur.

One needs to contend with donkeys and overloaded W123 taxis on narrow Morocco roads:


Even if I pulled off the road to let oncoming traffic by, I hardly felt a jolt or a bump. You can pull off the road and still keep going. A testament to this was things lying around on the back seat never falling off onto the floor.

Although narrow, the roads later improved. There are certain roads which have water running across and one needs to wade through carefully:


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Old 21st November 2012, 13:45   #6
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Default re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

It's time to go 4-wheeling. Before we start, here's a look at the Range Rover's offroad capability and equipment.
  • Increased approach / departure angles of 34.5 & 29.5 degrees respectively.
  • The "All Terrain Control" System has 5 driving modes : General, Grass / gravel, Rock crawl, Mud ruts / snow and sand. This second generation of the terrain response controller has an "auto" mode that allows for internal algorithms to detect and decide the appropriate mode, making it idiot proof. Estimations of the terrain are made 100 times / second. I did ask whether these algorithms were patented? The reply was that the number of iterations and complexity meant it was difficult to recreate from scratch. Hope their computer systems are well protected!
  • Ground clearance of 296 mm can be increased by 140 mm manually & 105 mm automatically. It can also be reduced by 50 mm for low-ceiling access.
  • Wading depth has gone up to 900 mm.
  • Wheel travel has increased to 597 mm movement, that's 100 mm more than the competition. The Mercedes GL has 480 mm.



Before we hit the sand dunes, Joel (our instructor) asks us to set the terrain control to "sand mode" and also raise the SUV a little.

We were divided into batches of 5. Each batch needs to follow a pilot Defender, while another instructor follows us on a quad bike. At tricky points, yet another instructor will be stationed. A balloon-tyred Defender was on standby to rescue us if things went wrong.

Considering we had not been sand bashing before, the Range Rover looked after everything. However, we did come a cropper as we didn't follow the exact wheel tracks and beached the car. A series of forward and backward manoeuvres created a wheel track set for traction. Eventually, we mastered the technique of not using brakes when descending, and ensuring momentum to tackle inclines.









A few of me in action:









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Old 21st November 2012, 13:45   #7
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The Tea Break:


We do a quick check on the Terrain Response Control; sand mode, raised suspension, low range and hill descent activated. The dunes then evolved into a rocky trail. We are instructed to put the Terrain Control into "Auto" before proceeding to the rock crawl. This was meant to be a demo of the Auto mode.

The crawl involves random rocks and ruts. It sure requires a lot of power and consistency to get up there. I just gently powered on, the wheel articulation & ride height making it seem easy. The immense torque allowed the Range Rover to power on effortlessly. Your biggest fear is the car rolling back. With all the systems and automated braking in place, this wouldn't happen.

We never felt anything scrape the bottom of the SUV either. It was quite unnerving letting the car decide everything for you. The dash even suggested raising the car an extra 35 mm. This feedback is based on inputs from the level of wheel articulation happening.





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Old 21st November 2012, 13:45   #8
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Having got off the highway on the outskirts of Marrakech, we are making our way to the hotel, or so we thought! It is 1630 hours, the sun is setting and light conditions are getting bad. The GPS suddenly takes us towards the Palmeraie Golf Course. This appears as a heavily fortified compound, nearly like a fort. Suddenly, a man in a green fluorescent jacket directs us to the parking area. He instructs me to park with the nose facing the wall...well, there is a large dug out ditch right there.

I open the door to get out. He closes it on me saying : "Switch the low range on and set the terrain control to mud/rut"

We comply.

"This is the entrance to your hotel, go for it!" and he winks.

I descend a near vertical bank into a ravine which JLR has remade 5 times due to the rains. Stationed at various strategic points are Land Rover Discoverys complete with winches, in case we got badly stuck. Multiple JLR instructors guided us through the obstacles.

The mud was loose and it had rained, so you dare not stop. In some cases, the road just completely disappeared. If you look at the pictures, the wheels literally reach down and grab the soil. Again, we barely felt anything. It's like watching a video on Youtube. The only difference was the engine working hard since it was in low range (you know you are in a diesel).

All of this was done on 20" tarmac tyres. Imagine if the Range Rover was wearing proper offroad rubber. The ravine was really the high point of the day.

Entrance into the ravine:










That's me:
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Old 21st November 2012, 13:46   #9
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Another early morning start. We need to hand over our check-in baggage so that it can be stowed on the plane directly. We have David Waide - Chassis Director - joining us today.

Our route takes us through old Marrakech and into the Atlas Mountains. I try using the adaptive cruise control in traffic. It works, but is too spooky to use so I revert to manual control. The road takes us through some smooth, fast bends. As we climb up the mountains, I'm enjoying the SUV's agility and eagerness through corners. Engine response is instant when one wants to overtake. As we approach a bridge, another man in a green jacket waves us onto the riverbank. We bunch up and they proceed to remove the rear towing eye covers.

The Terrain Control is set to "Snow/ Mud". This puzzles us until David clarifies that the rocks are slippery, so this is the best mode to be in. Being the last to get in, we get the bulk of the bow waves. The Range Rover stirs, but is never shaken. Fortunately, no car gets stuck, though we lost quite a few number plates.



Our Pilot Defender:


My steed for the day:










I cut a tyre sidewall on a rock. Don't worry, JLR imported 1,650 tyres for the event. The wheel designs and tyres on all press Range Rovers are uniform for obvious reasons!


On the way, I couldn't resist a picture of the worst and the best:


Picture Credits: Nick Dimbleby & Team (Official Land Rover Photographers).

Disclaimer: Land Rover invited Team-BHP to Morocco. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd November 2012 at 10:08. Reason: Typo
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:00   #10
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:28   #11
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

Wo Ho.
Team-BHP is getting going international.
JLR sponsoring the whole thing is a good sign.
Were other Auto reviewers also invited?

Beautiful but expensive machine. Hopefully some of them will actually be driven on the kind of terrain they are designed for. Hate to see them polished and all shiny and driven in city from point A to B.

And lovely set of pictures.

Last edited by download2live : 21st November 2012 at 14:29.
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:30   #12
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

A very nice review and write up Ajmat.

JLR surely has a winner on their hands with this one. However the only drawback which i feel with the car is that somewhere the complete control does not lie with the driver due to driving aids.

My brother in law has the evoque, discovery and range rover sport. Out of all the three he says he enjoys driving discovery the most. I haven't got a chance to get behind the wheel in one of these but i am sure it must be a great experience.

Cheers.
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:33   #13
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

Awesome! They need to do this in India!!!
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:34   #14
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

beautiful report ajmat. thanks for sharing
untill now i thought 4x4 = bad interiors, hard looks.
not anymore though. I wish i had the money to get me one of these.
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Old 21st November 2012, 14:35   #15
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Default Re: Range Rover (4th Generation) : Driven

Wow!! Excellent report Ajmat. Love those pictures, especially where the LR is almost 3/4th in the water. Thanks for sharing. I can only wish to get an opportunity to drive one of those.
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