The all new Range Rover made its official world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit a few days ago, and WOW it’s one heck of a Land Rover. From every angle it’s clearly identifiable as a Range Rover, yet from every angle it’s different and new. Under Geoff Upex, Land Rover’s design director, the design team was able to capture the essence of Range Rover yet move it to the 21st century. It is at once retro and forward looking. The clamshell hood with raised contours, split tailgate, and floating roof with blacked-out pillars are all part of Range Rover’s 30 year DNA, while the striking headlamps, tail-lamps and dramatic front fender engine intake louvers hint at Range Rover’s evolution. But even though there are unmistakable similarities to previous Range Rovers, this Range Rover shares not a single body panel with its forbears.
“JUST THE FACTS”
New Range Rover/“Old” Range Rover
Length 194.9in./185.5 in.
Width 86.3in./74.4 in.
Height 73.3in./71.6 in.
Wheelbase 113.4in./108.1 in.
Approach angle (Off-road height) 35°/34°
Departure angle (Off-road height) 29°/32°
Ramp angle (Off-road height) 30°/29°
Weight, unladen – minimum 5379 lb/4960 lb
Max. permissible weight 6724 lb/6130 lb
Layout and no. of cylinders/valves V8/32-V8
Engine management Bosch 7.2/Bosch 5.2.1
Displacement 4398 cc/4600cc
Bore/stroke 3.62/3.26 in./3.79/3.20
Compression ratio 10:1/9.35:1
Cylinder head material Aluminium/Aluminium
Cylinder block material Aluminium/Aluminium
Horsepower @ rpm 282 @ 5400/222 @ 4750
Max. torque lb-ft @ rpm 324 @ 3600/300 @ 2600
0- 60 mph 9.0 seconds/10.3
Top speed 130 mph/122 mph
Electronic, dual mode 5-speed automatic gearbox with CommandShift 2-speed chain drive transfer gearbox with Torsen center differential
Transfer gearbox ratio
Final drive ratio:1 3.73
Front: Cross-linked electronic air suspension with MacPherson air Struts.
Rear: Cross-linked electronic air suspension with double wishbones.
Front – diameter/width Ventilated discs – 13.5/1.2 in.
Rear – diameter/width Solid discs – 13.9/0.5 in.
Parking brake Drum in rear disc.
Tires 255/55R-19 (225/50VR-20 as accessory).
Wheels 19 x 8 (20 X 8 as accessory).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Although the new engine is smaller than the old 4.6 by some 150 cc, it nonetheless delivers more power (220 vs 282 bhp) and 10% more torque at 3,600 rpm. It is a proven BMW motor that was specially adapted to withstand the rigors of life under a Land Rover hood. For example, the air intake was repositioned to allow for deep wading and the sump was changed to protect it against water ingress. Tougher seals and bearings on the timing pulleys have been added. Because every vehicle wearing the Land Rover badge is capable of climbing 45 degree slopes and 35 degree side tilts, the engine’s oil system was greatly modified and protected against oil surges. The cooling system has also been extensively re-engineered to cope with the ambient temperatures Land Rovers are routinely exposed to.
Because the Range Rover was designed to be at home both on the interstates and Colorado trails, the engine’s electronics include dual throttle maps to deliver faster response on-road coupled with greater control off-road. Off-road, the throttle needs greater input for a given rise in engine revs, reflecting trickier driving conditions where instant throttle response could get the vehicle into trouble rather than out of it.
Like the engine, the transmission also comes from BMW. The five speed automatic transmission (there is no manual option) has “CommandShift” allowing the driver to treat it like a manual tranny. CommandShift operates in both high and low range giving the driver greater control while off roading.
The two speed transfer case is new and has been designed specially for the new Range Rover. Centrally mounted, it uses an efficient chain-driven single offset shaft to feed torque to the front and rear axles via a Torsen torque-sensing differential.
The front differential is mounted on the engine sump with one of the drive shafts passing through the sump itself. This has the dual benefit of keeping the center of gravity low yet still maintaining excellent ground clearance. Under normal conditions, drive is split 50/50 between front and rear, but the center differential continuously monitors grip levels and delivers extra torque to where it's needed to a maximum torque bias ratio of 2:1. Both front and rear drive shafts are of a high angle, high plunge type to allow increased axle articulation.
To ensure the new Range Rover retains its off-road crown, the new model has the slowest low-range crawl speed in the industry – 2.4 mph/1,000 rpm in low range first for ultimate control off road. The transfer box provides 1:1 drive in high range but 2.70:1 in low range, the lowest gearing in the class.
It is now possible to shift between low and high range on the move, from high to low at speeds up to 10 mph and from low to high at speeds up to 30 mph. This is a great asset to those who tow heavy trailers and for those who venture across sand tracks.
As just about everyone has heard, gone is the frame and solid axles replaced by a monocoque body and independent suspension. Land Rover engineers attribute the new Range Rover's superb on- and off-road handling to the totally new subframe-mounted fully independent suspension which provides excellent wheel behavior, long wheel travel and significantly reduces the unsprung weight.
Sophisticated front suspension geometry uses a virtual-center double-joint MacPherson strut featuring two ball joints on the end of the suspension arms. The new front suspension maximizes ground clearance and provides more wheel travel for greater ride comfort in extreme conditions – wheel travel is increased by 2.0 in. over the previous-generation Range Rover.
Double wishbones are employed at the rear of the vehicle, again maximizing ground clearance and providing greater wheel travel – 3.9 in. more than the previous-generation Range Rover. Careful packaging has led to minimum intrusion into the load space.
The use of independent suspension has allowed the front and rear differentials to be moved up in the vehicle, providing additional ground clearance along the center line. This is particularly important when driving on heavily rutted tracks, where a vehicle with beam axles is prone to bottom-out the differential casings.
Even Range Rover’s class-leading air suspension was improved by the addition of interconnected cross-link valves for all four wheels. This allows a stiffer spring rate for paved roads and a softer spring rate when the vehicle is being driven off road.
EAS employs 'Terrain Sensing' software to determine if the vehicle is being driven on-road or off-road. The system uses signals from four wheel-travel sensors to differentiate between on-road cornering and off-road articulation. The cross-link valves are closed when the vehicle is driven on pavement. In this mode, each wheel acts independently of the others. This has the benefit of stiffening the suspension system to restrict body roll while also providing a firm but compliant ride.
When driving off-road EAS automatically opens the two cross-link valves softening the ride to allow all four wheels their maximum articulation as they react to differences in the topography. As before, the air suspension system has a number of different operating modes that depend on how and where the vehicle is being driven.
Unlike previous Range Rovers with air suspension where the body was raised or lowered leaving the beam axles and chassis at a constant height above the ground, the EAS in the new vehicle lowers and raises the entire vehicle body, differentials and the inner ends of the suspension components. Where the previous system was primarily a boon to increase approach, departure and ramp breakover angles and when wading through water the new vehicle will benefit from its off-road setting the moment it leaves the tarmac.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is the state-of-the-art combination of vehicle stability and traction control systems, including four-wheel traction control, anti-lock brakes, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assistance.
Again, the engineers recognized the dual nature of Range Rover’s existence and created a system that works as well off road as it does on road. For example, DSC cannot be completely switched off, but engine intervention can be disabled via a dash-mounted switch. In normal paved-road operation, if wheel slip is detected, DSC can reduce engine power to help regain traction, as well as slow the errant wheel using the brakes. Off-road, however, maintaining momentum is an integral part of climbing a sand dune or driving along a particularly muddy rutted track, hence the need to be able to remove engine intervention.
Another example: The DSC system uses signals from the vehicle's suspension height sensors to determine if any wheel has lost contact with the ground. In this case, brake pressure is applied continuously to this wheel to prevent it spinning. Had this link not been incorporated, the airborne wheel would have spun freely as power was applied, leading to uneven torque distribution between the front and rear axles. This would have had the effect of the vehicle 'shunting' backwards and forwards.
Unlike simple engine braking, HDC provides brake bias to the downhill axle and can also brake individual wheels as necessary. HDC can be selected in either low or high range and in any gear. The speed of descent depends on the gear selected – the lower the gear, the lower the speed. In low range first gear, the speed is limited to a walking pace.
BUT DOES ALL THE TECHNOLOGY WORK??
This Range Rover has been subjected to an amazing degree of real world testing. For three years pre-production units were driven a total of one and a half million miles including:
Alaska: cold weather testing,
Australia: dust ingress, high temperature,
Austria: cold weather testing in the Alps,
Belgium: resistance to stone chipping,
Canada: cold weather & durability testing,
Dubai: sand driving, high temperatures, high speeds,
England: extensive off-road testing plus lab simulation,
Finland: cold weather testing,
France: off-road testing, simulated high speed,
Germany: high-speed durability, off-road forest testing plus lab simulation,
Greece: high-speed towing,
Ireland: squeaks & rattles over poor surfaces,
Italy: high speeds,
Japan: traffic & air conditioning,
Mexico: off-road & high altitude,
Middle East: sand, humidity,
New Zealand: winter testing,
North Africa: high temperature plus durability,
Scotland: extensive off-road testing,
South Africa: sand & dust ingress, high temperature,
Sweden: cold weather testing,
USA: high temperature & durability,
It survived the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle and the searing heat of the Sahara – undergoing temperature changes from minus 40 degrees F to plus 130 degrees F.
It covered more than 9,000 miles towing a 7,000 lb trailer in northern Greece. The trailer had to be rebuilt at the end of each day. The Range Rover emerged from the ordeal unscathed.
In common with its Land Rover predecessors, the new Range Rover was also tested at Eastnor Castle in England. One test saw the vehicle being driven continuously for 250 miles through thick sticky mud.
It was driven repeatedly on France’s infamous Ardeche trails (which are often used for extreme fourwheeling competitions) which combine boulder strewn gullies with 45 degree steep slopes, slippery loose surfaces and deep gullies. The new Range Rover took the climb in its stride, adding exceptional levels of comfort to its sheer ability.
At the other end of the spectrum high-speed testing was undertaken on no speed limit stretches of German Autobahn. The Range Rover’s new V8 engine was subjected to dedicated 'V-max' high-speed testing on the motorways, covering 40,000 miles at a time.
We’ll let Bob Dover, head of Land Rover sum up our impressions of Land Rover’s latest creation: “the new Range Rover is the world's most capable vehicle, with the greatest breadth of ability of any vehicle ever made. The mixture of peerless off-road ability combined with on-road excellence should satisfy the most demanding luxury car buyer.”
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