The much lighter bodyweight means it can be larger, faster and more responsive at the same time as being more efficient, cheaper to run and better equipped. It can claim a lighter eco-footprint, a properly limousine-like rear cabin and performance approaching that of a super-saloon.
Everything has changed about this fourth generation Range Rover. Step up into the famous ‘Command’ driving position and you find yourself sitting throne-like in a beautifully appointed cabin. There’s nothing quite like it.
But if much about this car is familiar, much too about this smoother, more contemporary fourth generation design is very different. There’s a deep imposing front grille and a more rakish lean to a front A-pillar that, like B and C pillars further back, has a premium gloss black finish. It’s there to emphasise the so-called ‘floating roof’ that sits above near-flush side glazing. The side fender graphics on the front doors also look neat and further back at the rear, another lovely styling touch is the ‘hidden until lit’ high-mounted LED stop lamp, positioned under the roof spoiler where it illuminates across the full width of the tailgate.
More important though is what lies beneath this slippery shape. Essentially, a £1 billion investment in aluminium technology, this being the world’s first SUV to boast a lightweight all-aluminium monocoque body structure. A structure that sees this car up to 420kgs lighter than its direct steel-bodied predecessor, a weight equivalent to a full complement of passengers. And that’s despite the fact that this car is slightly longer and wider than before for one reason – and one reason only: to offer more space in the rear.
An extra 42mm in the wheelbase has made all the difference. A wider door aperture and a lower ‘Access’ ride height on the air suspension means that it’s much easier to get in and once seated, also much easier to get comfortable, with over a metre of leg-stretching room and a backrest reclining option for longer journeys.
This car’s slightly larger size isn’t enough to permit the fitment of the couple of occasional rear boot-mounted seats you’ll find in a Land Rover. Luggage room has always been a greater priority, so I should point out that thanks to all the attention given to those on the rear seat, there’s a little less of it than before, the 909-litre figure down around 10%. Should more room be required, dropping the rear backrest frees up as much as 2030-litres.
Seated up-front amongst the beautiful leathers, polished metal and hand-crafted veneers, you’ll find yourself in a cabin that looks as classy and cosseting as ever, with its clean, elegant controls and a notable absence of button clutter, with most functions relocated to the eight-inch colour touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dash and which, by voice, touch or steering wheel button, marshals everything from sat nav to seat heating, stereo sound to surround cameras. For this screen, Land Rover’s engineers have developed clever Dual View technology, enabling it to simultaneously display a different image to driver and passenger. So at the wheel, you can, say, view the navigation display while your passenger watches a video.
Ahead of you at the wheel, the instruments are in the usual place but they aren’t real instruments in the manner you might be used to. This Range Rover replaces the traditional speedo and rev-counter clocks with digital facsimiles projected on a 12. 3” wide TFT screen. In normal mode, the rev counter moves aside in favour of a graphical drivetrain that shows which wheels are being driven, which diffs are locked and much more. In fact, the virtual screen can be customised to show anything from the outside temperature to navigation information, telephone system settings or wheel articulation.
The Range Rover has always appealed to a more diverse group of customers than any other car. This is, after all, far more than just the world’s finest luxury SUV, instead unchallenged as four vehicles within one – an everyday luxury saloon, a weekend leisure vehicle, a high-performance long distance private jet and a working cross-country conveyance.
Thanks to its revolutionary aluminium underpinnings, this fourth generation version is now sharper to drive, ravishing in the rear and vastly more efficient and affordable to run. It is, in short, a very different proposition.