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2013 Land Rover Range Rover sheds weight with all-aluminum unibody

Thu, 06 Sep 2012 00:00:00 -0700

Land Rover publicly unveiled its redesigned 2013 Range Rover five-seat SUV in London on Thursday, with less weight and better fuel economy than its predecessors thanks in large part to a new all-aluminum unibody structure--the first of its kind in an SUV, according to Land Rover.

The company also announced that European Range Rover buyers will get a diesel hybrid option. The Range Rover hybrid will pair a 3.0-liter diesel engine with a 35kw electric motor. Land Rover says the combination will deliver sub-seven-second 0-to-60-mph times along with 45 mpg combined in the European fuel economy test.

U.S. customers will continue to get Land Rover's 5.0-liter gasoline V8 engines for the foreseeable future--the naturally aspirated unit produces 375 hp while the supercharged version nets 510 hp. New this year, both engines will be bolted to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with standard paddle shifters. A rotary shift knob similar to the one used in current Jaguar models replaces the stalk shifter.

Asked whether U.S. customers could expect a diesel Range Rover, vehicle line director Nick Rogers gave the predictable “wait and see” response, saying, “We have an engineering team exploring all sorts of possibilities. The development of this car won't stop where we are now.”

Boasting a 39-percent lighter body than the outgoing steel Range Rover, the 2013 model will be built at a new aluminum production facility at Land Rover's Solihull, U.K., factory. Coupled with other weight-reduction strategies, the result is a U.S.-spec Range Rover that's 700 pounds lighter than the current model: 4,850 pounds for the regular 5.0-liter V8 model and 5,137 pounds for the supercharged version.

The focus on weight reduction is ostensibly an effort to improve the Range Rover's dismal fuel economy, but Land Rover representatives stressed the model's improved stiffness and handling rather than any major fuel-efficiency gains for the American market: The supercharged 2013 model is estimated to get about 9 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing model; expect somewhere in the 15.5 mpg range.

Land Rover designers elected to not mess too much with a good thing, moving the styling toward that of the Range Rover Evoque without altering the Range Rover's distinctive tall, boxy look. A side graphic that appears cribbed from a Great White shark replaces the former bodyside air extractor, and wheels from 19 to 22 inches in diameter are offered.

What about ride smoothness now that Land Rover has done away with all that road-hugging weight? A four-corner air suspension should keep your tea in its cup, and Land Rover also claims cornering and steering feel have been improved. The new system works in conjunction with the company's Terrain Response 2 system that uses various sensors to determine the road surface and automatically makes adjustments to traction control, transmission, electronic differential, transfer box and the air suspension.

For off-roaders, the air suspension offers a variety of ride heights to cope with changing conditions. Depending upon the mode selected, up to 5.7 inches of lift over the standard ride height can be dialed up to get the new Range Rover out of trouble. Wading depth also approaches 3 feet.

Inside, rear legroom has been increased by 4.7 inches, while knee room is improved by almost 2 inches. Five-passenger seating is standard, but a newly available executive package adds rear buckets with an extended center console. Interior noise was a major focus during development. Land Rover claims the new Range Rover has less wind noise at 100 mph than the Audi A8 sedan, plus lower road noise at 30 mph than any other luxury SUV.

Want more on the 2013 Range Rover? Check out the full global markets press release below and stay tuned for a full drive review in the near future.

Press Release (all markets)

Whitley, UK, September 6, 2012 – Land Rover has announced the launch of the all-new Range Rover, the world's most refined and capable SUV.

The fourth generation of the iconic Range Rover line, the new model has been developed from the ground up to provide the ultimate luxury SUV, following the innovative spirit of the original design from over 40 years ago.

The world's first SUV with a lightweight all-aluminium body, the new Range Rover takes the capabilities of the marque's flagship to a new level, with even greater luxury and refinement, enhanced performance and handling on all terrains, and significant advances in sustainability.

“Launching the all-new Range Rover represents a major milestone for Land Rover, being the first exciting output from an unprecedented investment in premium vehicle technologies,” said John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director.

“The new Range Rover preserves the essential, unique character of the vehicle – that special blend of luxury, performance and unmatched all-terrain capability. However, its clean sheet design and revolutionary lightweight construction have enabled us to transform the experience for luxury vehicle customers, with a step change in comfort, refinement and handling.”

With sales scheduled to start in late 2012, the all-new Range Rover will be introduced in 170 markets worldwide.

Designed and engineered at Land Rover's development centres in the UK, the new Range Rover will be produced in a state-of-the-art new low-energy manufacturing facility at Solihull, UK.

Clean and contemporary design

The all-new Range Rover has a clean and elegant shape which is derived from a fresh new interpretation of Range Rover design cues. While instantly recognisable as a Range Rover, the new vehicle takes a significant step forward with a bold evolution of the model's iconic design language.

At just under 5m long, the new Range Rover has a very similar footprint to the outgoing model, but with a smoother and more streamline profile – the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever, with a drag coefficient starting from 0.34 – the roofline sits 20mm lower in access mode.

The luxurious interior has a modern and pure character, incorporating distinctive Range Rover design cues, but with a fresh and very contemporary treatment. The cabin retains the characteristic strong, architectural forms, and these are emphasised by extremely clean and elegant surfaces which are flawlessly executed using the finest leathers and veneers.

With over 118mm more legroom, the rear compartment offers vastly more space and comfort, with the option of the desirable new two-seat Executive Class seating package for the ultimate in rear-seat luxury.

To enable customers to create their perfect bespoke vehicle, the unique luxury ambience of the new Range Rover can be extensively tailored with an indulgent choice of colours, finishes and special details, from the immaculately-trimmed colour-themed interiors of the exclusive Autobiography series, to the stylish range of alloy wheels up to 22 inches in diameter.

Most refined, most capable Range Rover ever

The all-new Range Rover has been engineered from the ground up to be the most refined, most capable Range Rover ever. With the adoption of the latest body and chassis technologies, the vehicle's all-terrain performance has moved on to another level, both in the breadth and accessibility of its off-road capability, and its on-road handling and refinement.

Amongst the industry-leading innovations is a ground-breaking next-generation version of Land Rover's Terrain Response

By Andrew Stoy