New Range Rover driven by
Rover took us to the middle of nowhere for the launch of its updated
Range Rover - maybe to stay clear of Greenpeace activists - and the
vehicle proved to be better than ever in some pretty tough conditions...
Recently Greenpeace invaded the Range
Rover plant in the British Midlands and even managed to shut down
production. The group was seeking a pledge from parent company Ford to
stop making and marketing 4x4 vehicles such as the Range Rover, which
was originally intended for overland use.
However, on the launch of the 2006 Range
Rover, this luxury SUV actually proved that it is great for overland use
and in terms of 4x4 capabilities it is a true Landy.
This is in fact an SUV that feels more at
home in the veld than on tarmac. Even Land Rover executives say the
Range Rover "is a vehicle which is close to what its rivals can do
on-road - but its rivals are far from what the Range Rover can do
This is a perfect summary of the Range
Rover, as its on-road capabilities are great but not yet as good as that
of an BMW X5 or VW Touareg. However, as a true 4x4 few comes close to
In the Koue Bokkeveld, close to
Sutherland, and on a gruelling 4x4 trail at Perdeberg in the Malmesbury
area, the Range Rover proved that it is really tough no matter how rough
At first sight one can't spot what is new
to the Range Rover, but there are a few minor detail changes such as
redesigned front and rear lights. Land Rover also freshened up the car's
grille, bumpers and power vents. New 18 and 19 inch wheels are also
However, it is more about the under the
skin improvements and the 2005 Range Rover gains two powerful
Jaguar-derived petrol engines. The 3-litre TD6 Range Rover remains
Now heading the line-up is a potent
4.2-litre supercharged model with a power output of 291 kW with maximum
torque of 560 Nm. This model also gets a distinctive look with
additional styling modifications such as a mesh-design front grille and
power vents. It also comes with 20 inch alloy wheels.
Land Rover also replaced the naturally
aspirated V8 model and it now kicks out 225 kW of power and 440 Nm of
Both these engines are lightweight and
use advanced torque-based engine management systems.
The new engines are mated to a new
six-speed automatic electronically controlled transmission, offering
outstanding smoothness. It uses a centre differential (now
electronically controlled) that improved both off and on-road handling.
Low range and hill descent control is also available for extreme off-roading.
Then of course there is air suspension too.
Land Rover claims the updated Range Rover
is quieter than before and that the new engines offer better NVH (Noise,
Vibration and Harshness levels. Furthermore cabin noise is also much
lower thanks to laminated front side glass windows and modifications to
the profile of the A-pillar.
During our test drives on various kinds
of terrain the Range Rover really came across as super quiet and the
sounds from the engine, wind and road were mere whispers. This means one
can appreciate the ambience the Range Rover's cabin more, which offers
plush leather fit and finish, a 14-speaker sound system and other
Standard features on the Range Rover
include satellite navigation that provides on and off-road guidance and
Bluetooth settings for your cellphone.
Options include a rear camera for easier
reverse parking, a tyre pressure monitoring system and adaptive front
headlamps that swivel when cornering, to improve illumination.
A rear seat entertainment system is now
available, with two headrest-mounted 6.5-inch screens, a six-disc DVD
auto-changer, infra-red remote control, wireless headphones and sockets
for auxiliary media sources (such as an MP3 player or games console).
The Range Rover is a big vehicle and it
can be intimidating at first sight - there is a lot of metal -but looks
can be deceiving. Land Rover has managed to engineer the Range Rover in
such a way that it is easy to manoeuvre and it is easy to pilot the car.
Although it is no sports sedan, the
supercharged model feels quite nimble on the road and it is a joy if you
manage to ignore its fuel consumption figures. Land Rover claims a
combined fuel usage of 16 litres/100 km but drivers could find that it
is closer to 17 or even 18.
Off-road, the Range Rover is superb and
it tackles the toughest inclines, no matter how rough the terrain, with
ease, while hill-descent control takes care of declines. It is hard to
believe that this R800k+ vehicle can actually proceed with ease over
rocks, rivers and almost any possible angle or terrain.
It is sad, therefore, that very few Range
Rover drivers will ever venture into true off-road terrain, as it is an
incredible 4x4 vehicle
The car's flagship status is well
deserved and it isn't just another luxury SUV - it is one of the most
able off-roaders available. The addition of Jaguar's excellent
supercharged V8 will also quieten those critics who say the Range Rover
lacks some decent power.
Range Rover 4.4 V8 - R885 000.
Range Rover 4.2 V8 Supercharged - R990 000.
No price was given for the diesel version that will only reach South