Its safe to say that, even though its still right up there at the top of the pile, the Range Rover is getting a bit long in the tooth now. After all, even though the recent facelift kept it fresh, the current version has been in production for the last ten years!
There will, though, be an all-new one next year, and Land Rover has just announced the first initial details for its new and improved Chelsea tractor. So, lets see what makes this latest Rangie so special, shall we?
If you werent an advocate of the 2010 facelift for the current Range Rover, on the grounds that it was too flashy or blingy, theres a good chance that you wont be a fan of the new one. Still, you cant argue against it not being a modern design, and it does at least bear a passing resemblance to the hugely successful Range Rover Evoque.
Thankfully for the purist fans, the overall shape is mostly identical to the last generations, with the only major differences being a longer wheelbase and a less boxy front end. Other than that, its mostly the same silhouette that we all (or, perhaps image-conscious mummies would be the more accurate and specific term) fell in love with at the turn of this century.
Land Rover is really pushing the Range Rover upmarket, beyond its usual rivals such as the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, with the new targets in Solihulls crosshairs being the Mercedes-Benz ML and upcoming Bentley SUV. As a result, it needs a fancy cabin, and theres no denying that this is the case for the new Range Rover.
Weve only got one picture to go on so far, but judging by what it shows, the quality is as youd expect from something thats taking on the plush players in the luxury SUV market. Leather and wood seem to be the more prominent materials up front, whilst the controls have all been simplified, and there are now new digital screens for the dash-mounted touchscreen and a TFT dial binnacle.
Land Rover has also confirmed that therell be improved levels of interior space for the passengers, no doubt as a result of the 100mm longer wheelbase (Land Rover actually claims rear legroom has been improved by a very impressive 120mm. There is, though, an option to extend the centre console right to the middle bench in what Land Rover calls an Executive layout, though this does cull the rear seat count from three to two. As of yet, there are no words on an extra set of foldaway seats right at the back.
Under the skin
Probably a first from the company, the bit that the firm is most pleased about the Range Rover is the chassis that underpins it. Not only is it an all-aluminium structure something that, until now, hasnt been done on this type of vehicle before that utilises all the skills and knowledge that JLR has acquired over the years through developing aluminium spaceframes, but it also helps make the new Range Rover up to, depending on the final spec, staggering 420kg lighter than the car it replaces.
This should undoubtedly help make the new Range Rover a far more enjoyable ownership proposition (not that the current car is, running costs aside, a difficult one to live with in the first place). Thanks to the lighter weight, the new car should not only ride and handle better, but fuel consumption and CO2 emissions should be noticeably improved.
The rest, though, is as wed expect from a modern Land Rover that, though now appealing more and more to city dwellers, can still tackle the mucky stuff should their owners wish to venture into the Great Outdoors. New and improved versions of the firms air suspension, Terrain Response and electronic control systems for the chassis can all be found, which will allegedly optimise the Range Rover for pretty much whatever bit of terrain is thrown at it.
Not that we have that much to worry about when it comes to off-road capability. This is, after all, a Land Rover!
Though there is the possibility of more engines being added into the Range Rover range in the near future, for the time being we can only say we definitely know of three engines youll be able to find under the Rangies clamshell bonnet, and all of which are updated versions motors youve seen in Land Rovers before: a 3.0 V6 diesel, a 4.4 petrol V8 and a supercharged version of JLRs own 5.0 V8 that you can find in a multitude of performance Jaguars.
There will be no manual gearbox option for the new Range Rover (not even for the low range stuff!), with the only transmission to pick from being the latest eight-speed automatic from ZF.
Land Rover hasnt announced any definitive prices (theyll most likely be revealed when the car makes its debut at the Paris Motor Show in September), but its being suggested that the range will kick off at 70,000, with fully kitted out examples selling for around about 120,000.
The order books will be opening this year (again, well most likely know for sure when by late September), with deliveries set to begin in early 2013.
If youre someone who hates SUVs with a passion, you may not want to read the remainder of this sentence: on first impressions, there seems to be quite a lot to like about this up and coming fourth-generation Range Rover.
Sure, the design may not appeal to everyone, and the predicted base price does seem to be quite steep, especially when compared to the outgoing car, but you do have to admit that its pretty easy to see where the extra money is being spent. Inside and out, and indeed under the bodywork, almost everything has been updated in order to push this new Rangie right to the top of the SUV pecking order.
On first impressions, does next years Range Rover have the potential to, on paper at least, be better than the current one? Definitely. Will it become the definitive type of premium SUV for this generation? Its incredibly likely. Will they sell like hot cakes and start popping up like daisies? Absolutely!