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Land Rover is an all-terrain vehicle manufacturer now operated as part of the Jaguar Land Rover business owned by Tata Motors. The first Land Rover was designed in 1948 in the United Kingdom and was allegedly inspired by World War II Jeeps. It has been said that 75% of all Land Rovers ever built are still in use today.
“I could have had a V8!” was the tagline for a foul tonic of liquified vegetables and spices sold by Campbell’s, but also a metaphor for the deadly automotive sin of purchasing a V6 muscle car. In my own lifetime, I remember when anyone with a Y chromosome that willingly purchased a 6-cylinder pony car was derided as a skinflint at best, effete at worst. It wasn’t until the second decade of the 2000′s that things changed. The V6s on offer suddenly became legitimate options for ponycar buyers.
The V6 Mustang was no longer a secretary special, but a legitimate sports car, offering comparable straight line performance with the old Mod Motor Mustangs, and able to dispatch its import competition around a road course. The GM HFX V6 and Chrysler Pentastar V6s went a long way to raise the game of the rental-spec Camaros and LX/LY chassis cars respectively, making it hard for us to imagine that the old 2.7 Chrysler V6 and the GM 3.9L ever existed. That doesn’t mean that you should willingly opt for two less cylinders. Not in a pony car. But in a Range Rover Sport, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.
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My friends and neighbors have gotten used to the sight of a variety of brand new and nicely equipped cars that periodically show up on my driveway. They know that many (most? all?) of them are beyond my own means to own or lease so a frequent question I’m asked is, “who would buy that car?” Who would buy a 2013 Land Rover LR4? A snarky answer would be nobody, since it’s a safe bet that most of the 600 or so new LR4s that get delivered every month in North America are leased, but my guess is that the typical buyers are affluent suburban families with children and maybe a vacation home on an unpaved road. Who else would drive a 7 passenger luxury SUV? Read More >
How long has it been since the Range Rover was “the best 4x4xfar”? Since the original 2-door Spen King special went out of production? Since Toyota replaced Land Rover vehicles (including the Defender, Range Rover and the like) as the vehicle of choice for African off-roaders and UN peacekeepers? Since the Range Rover was catapulted from Anglophile obscurity to the must have vehicular fashion accessory of the wannabe Kardashian set?
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The Range Rover Sport was launched in 2005 and Land Rover has sold 4,00,000 units till date. Evolved from Land Rover’s first concept vehicle, the Range Stormer (showcased in 2004), the first generation Range Rover Sport’s production has been stopped, as the second generation model is all set to go on sale in the next couple of months. Land Rover has announced pricing for the Sport in the UK, which starts at £59,995 for the base trim and goes up to £74,995 at the top end. The second gen Range Rover Sport is all new and shares only 25% parts with the Range Rover. It uses an all aluminium PLA platform, which results in a weight saving of 420 kgs over its predecessor (when powered by the same engine). Land Rover states the new Range Rover Sport is “the fastest, most agile, most responsive Land Rover ever”. The British company claims a 30% improvement in handling over the first gen model. The new RR Sport does a lap around the Nordschleife in 8:35 minutes, which is fast for a full sized SUV.
We had a chance to drive a Range Rover Sport prototype at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon test track. Read More >
With the introduction of the new Range Rover already underway, next on the agenda is the smaller Range Rover Sport.
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Land Rover and Jeep are the original go-anywhere brands and the brands most resistant to losing sight of their hard-core mission. Unfortunately this focus can’t shelter them from the need to meet evermore stringent emissions and fuel economy standards. What’s an iconic sub-brand like Range Rover to do? Dress up a small cross over in high-fashion bling for the urban set. This presents today’s question: does the Evoque dilute the off-road brand or is it an extension into uncharted waters?
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Last May, I had the chance to drive the Range Rover Supercharged, the alpha dog of the Range Rover lineup. Though I was charmed by the incredible power and opulent cabin, I felt that the Range Rover was afflicted by a curse that affects many upper echelon vehicles – all the flash and features were spoilt by an underlying impracticality.
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If you are on the market for a classically-styled English luxury vehicle with a compliant ride and a sticker under a quarter-million dollars, the Range Rover dealer might be your only destination. After all, Jaguar recently nixed the styling often referred to as “fussy” (but I preferred to think of as “dignified”) opting instead for jamming insane engines into sporty, avant-garde styled rides, Bentley has been churning out stiffly sprung modern sports cars lately leaving only the dueling RRs, Range Rover and Rolls Royce, to battle for our softly sprung anglophile hearts and minds. (Mind you, the baby Roller is considerably more expensive than anything coming out of Solihull.) With this kind of company, does a Rover have what it takes to be the ultimate in off-road luxury? Or will it at least make a more appropriate garage mate than a Jeep?
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Time was Land Rovers evolved at a leisurely pace, with a redesign perhaps once every decade or two, and name changes pretty much never. But, if you want some of those soccer mom dollars, this just won’t do. So the Disco II became the LR3 (on this side of the pond at least; in the more tradition-minded UK it became the Disco 3). And, just five years later, the LR3 was itself superceded by the LR4. Will the smaller LR2 become the LR3 when it is next redesigned? I suppose they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. Perhaps they’ll toss the alphanumeric rubbish into the dustbin. The topic for today: what’s the LR4 got that the LR3 did not?
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When the Range Rover Sport was first introduced I didn’t much care for it. The shape wasn’t quite right, the interior was too cheap for the price tag, and for a model with “Sport” in its name, it just didn’t seem to have the thrust required even in Supercharged trim. Apparently the Landie headquarters was listening, so for 2010 the Range Rover Sport gets an overhaul, but does it take the Sport from an expensive plastic box to something Jeep owners secretly crave? The boffins at Tata lent us the keys for a week to find out. Read More >
In 2001, Land Rover parachuted their not-so-cute ute across the pond. The Freelander landed with a splat. Gas was cheap and XXL SUV's dominated the landscape. What's more (or less), the 174 horse Freelander was technologically quaint, reliability challenged and forgot to show up for its federal crash test. And so Land Rover has redeployed the second-generation Freelander, the forgettably-named LR2, into the American market. This time, sales of big SUVs are in the toilet, there's a burgeoning compact SUV market and Land Rover's traditional entryway, the LR3 (nee Discovery), now costs a lofty $45k+.
The Range Rover Sport arrived just as Britain's Parliament banned fox hunting. Call it fortuitous happenstance. At the precise moment Britain's shotgun-wielding aristocrats lost their main motivation for chasing each other over hill and dale, the Ford subsidiary came plying more on-road aggression. If these frustrated followers of British blood sports looked upon the new Landie Sport as an opportunity to blow off a little steam in less mucky surrounds, it's a goal they share with America's wealthier PTA MILFs. So, does the Sport have what it takes to get the blood pumping for aristocrats on both sides of the Pond?
The Land Rover Sport HSE looks like a top-shelf Range Rover with its hair slicked back. The Sport shares the exact same two-box profile with its big brother– complete with Rover's trademark 'floating' cantilevered roof. The more rakish Sport's canted greenhouse (both fore and aft) is the model's main distinguishing feature, and its only real attempt at a skosh of street cred. In the name of differentiation, Gaydon's designers replaced the Rangie's classy aluminum front-fender vent slat with a more traditional aperture, and substituted some overly ornate taillights in place of the bigger Rover's refined rounds. Details aside, the Sport remains the very picture of 21st-century shooting brakedom, albeit one rockin' a set of air suspenders.
There comes a point in every enthusiast's life when it's time to slow down– at least until some of the penalty points on their license expire. To avoid a complete loss of personal mobility, hamstrung throttle jockeys often find themselves transitioning into a slower vehicle. Not being attuned to The Ways of the Sloth, these once and future speed demons usually slide into some po-faced laggard. Bad move. The miserable car nut simply ends up thrashing the horseless carriage until it reaches extralegal velocities. If you have to go slow, there's only one way to go: the Land Rover LR3.
The LR3 is Oxycontin on wheels. Here's the pharmacology: command seating, a light and airy cabin, widescreen windscreen, superior sound system, silken slushbox, progressive brakes and roll-suppressing air suspension. Press the right pedal and the British-made SUV doesn't administer the G-force jolt pistonheads crave. Instead, it unleashes something just as intoxicating: a seamless surge of forward progress known to the luxury-class cognoscenti as "imperious wafting". Within minutes, driving slowly is as sensually satisfying as lying in a hot tub after a long day's work. Ten minutes later and the "go-faster" part of your brain goes numb.
Evolution is a strange thing. You start with a single cell animal, wait a couple billion years and end up with Eminem. By the same token, you start with a rough and ready off-roader, wait thirty-four years, and end up with a luxury car on stilts. Evolution is not a good thing or a bad thing; it's just a thing. But the question remains: is the Range Rover fit enough to survive in an automotive environment teeming with first class competition?
The moment you heave yourself aboard the Range Rover, the British-built SUV asserts its exclusivity. The RR rejects the usual luxury car sports seat posturing in favour of a driver's throne, complete with leather arm rest. The view through the all-but-vertical windscreen reinforces the imperious vibe. You sit up high, master of all you survey – including about an acre of bonnet stretched out beneath you like the playing fields of Eton.