Three hundred sixty kilograms. That’s the weight of four or five men. That’s how much ballast the new Range Rover has tossed out, illustrating the automotive trend toward lightweighting. Half that savings was realized in the new aluminum structure—a first for any SUV—which weighs a mere 292 kg (644 pounds), 23 kg less than the steel bones of a compact BMW 3-Series. This Rover now weighs as little as 2200 kg, equipped with a 280-kilowatt (375-horsepower), Jaguar-sourced 5.0-liter V-8. Step up to the 380-kW (510-hp) supercharged version and the slenderized Brit explodes off the line to break 97 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) in 5.1 seconds. That’s faster than many sport sedans and nearly a second quicker than the outgoing model.
In tandem with a discreet eight-speed automatic transmission, the Rover’s fuel economy has risen by nearly 15 percent, hitting 12 liters per 100 kilometers (20 miles per gallon).
And from rain-swept dunes along the coast of Morocco to the tangled streets of Marrakech, the Rover also showed me newfound agility to go with its magic-carpet ride and throne-like seats. An adaptive air suspension adjusts over five ride heights. The optional Dynamic Response system limits body lean, controlling the electrohydraulic roll bars independently at both axles. In the ridiculously posh cabin, riders find 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) more legroom in back and quieter surroundings than in a BMW 7-Series or Audi A8. And while many owners will limit off-roading to puddles at the neighborhood football pitch, the Rover will still vanquish terrain like William the Conqueror did at the Battle of Hastings.
Ascending Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, our cliff-hung, red-clay road was cut off by the previous night’s mudslide. Turn back? Forget it: Our Rover convoy climbed up boulder-strewn ridges and then down again to meet the road. A pop-up console button adjusts the Terrain Response 2 System through road-sensing settings including sand and rock crawl, mud and ruts, and grass, gravel, and snow.
Though the weight has gone down, the price certainly has not: The new Rover ranges from US $83 500 to $130 950. Yet thanks in part to that aluminum diet, the Range Rover has assured its continued, healthy reign among luxury SUVs.
Price: US $84 500 Power plant: 5.0-L V-8 Fuel economy: 12 L/100 km (20 mpg)