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Sneak Peak at the 2012 Range Rover

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Light & Luxurious
If Land Rover survives beyond Ford selling it, this might be its flagship
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By JULIAN RENDELL | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Published 07/09/07, 1:15 pm et


Land Rover is putting the finishing touches on the design and engineering of an all-new Range Rover, a milestone that marks the company’s next phase of new-model launches.

Scheduled for sale in 2012, the next Range Rover takes on the role of replacement for the vehicle that launched Ford’s Land Rover ownership in 2001. By the time a new Range Rover arrives, assuming one does, either as this all-new model or merely a refresh, Land Rover probably will be far removed from Ford ownership once again.

Regardless of who or what company is at the helm, any new Range Rover would be crucial, starting the replacement cycle for the next-generation Range Rover Sport, LR3, LR2 and Defender, plus possible additional models.

With this in mind, the future Range Rover will feature a development aimed at maintaining the flagship model as the world’s most luxurious 4x4 sport/utility vehicle: an aluminum unibody.

Although Ford has yet to give final approval, insiders expect the green light in the next few months to begin development of the aluminum body shell, using the same rivet-bonding technology proven on Jaguar’s XJ sedan. “We’re just waiting to hear go,” says one official.

Together with sharper styling, a superluxury interior, new engines, modified running gear and a possible hybrid powertrain, insiders are speculating that top-end models of the new Range Rover might even nudge into Bentley territory with a price the equivalent of $200,000 today. Of course, Ford’s “final approval” might be worthless if the Brit marque is sold and the buyer thinks a $200,000 Range Rover is not a good idea.

The underlying alloy structure, called Premium Lightweight Architecture, is expected to cut 40 percent of the weight of the Range Rover’s unpainted unibody, which should translate into a curb-weight savings of between 700 and 900 pounds. “We’re targeting the upper figure and are pretty hopeful of getting there,” says one source.

In effect, Land Rover is aiming for a curb weight of about 4800 to 5100 pounds, while keeping the Range Rover’s stately presence and roomy, luxurious cabin.

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Besides having better fuel economy and less emissions, the lighter Range Rover should ride and handle better and steer with more agility.

Taking the sort of fuel savings that Jaguar has achieved with the XJ, it’s not unreasonable to imagine an aluminum Range Rover powered by a V8 gasoline engine averaging 22 mpg.

Clever details from the Jaguar’s rivet-bonded body, such as the bolt-on front end, which keeps repair costs down in the event of a front-end collision, are expected to be carried over to the Range Rover.

Land Rover engineers also know enough about the effects of off-road driving on aluminum to calm fears about durability. “When we’ve had problems before, it’s been where steel and alloy are joined together,” says a Land Rover source. “With an all-alloy structure, those problems go away.”

Fresh styling is another prominent feature of the new Range Rover project, codenamed L405. Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern and his Gaydon-based team are working on distinct styling directions for Land Rover and Range Rover, tagged “premium adventure” for Land Rover and “premium sophistication” for Range Rover.

Two themes are being developed for the Range Rover, one more radical than the other. According to sources, the more conservative design is favored at the moment.

Land Rover has some time to work out the details. Even if final approval comes in early 2008, engineers will have more than three years to finalize the vehicle.

The main feature of the new design is a slightly more compact look with a lower roofline, a less top-heavy greenhouse and tighter front and rear overhangs. Attention to detail will shrink the car visually, while ensuring that it oozes luxury and retains road presence.

Running gear such as the front strut and multilink rear axle suspension will be improved rather than redesigned from the ground up.

Engines will be a mix of new and revamped units, co-developed with Jaguar. An all-new direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 is in the pipeline in two versions, with and without a supercharger. Expect power outputs of about 350 hp and 460 hp.

New diesels are coming, too. Land Rover’s 3.6-liter turbodiesel V8 will be stretched to 4.0 liters with a rise in power and torque. Expect a peak of about 300 hp and 520 lb-ft. The Jaguar/Land Rover 2.7-liter V6 turbodiesel also will increase in capacity to 3.0 liters. Land Rover is considering whether the 3.0-liter combined with the lighter-weight alloy might make an entry-level V6 diesel Range Rover a possibility.

Another tantalizing prospect is a hybrid powertrain that promises much lower emissions without giving up any of the Range Rover’s legendary utility and capability.
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So... they're finishing up the design of a model that goes on sale in 5 years? What?

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That design looks dated already to me. I would never want to buy a Land Rover/Range Rover, their depreciation is like a boulder falling off a cliff.

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I consider the current Range Rover to be one of the best cars on the road in almost every category. I love it. I'm not loving this somewhat tarty design, though. It looks like it's trying too hard to be sporty and tough. The aluminum body shell and diesel is cool.

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