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New Range Rover

Land Rover

Review

FIVE years in the making and representing an unprecedented £1 billion investment, the new-generation Range Rover will be the Midland firm's prime weapon in a chairman's car battle with BMW's 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-class in February.

Chief designer Don Wyatt said: 'This is only the third new Range Rover in 31 years and we knew it had to be good. It is and we believe we have built the most capable vehicle ever launched and there's no doubt it is going to do well. We need to re-establish this model as the best there is and I've no doubt it is going to regain the position of king of the sport utility sector for our brand.'

Speaking as the company opened its engineering complex at Gaydon for a technical presentation on the car, he added: 'This is only the eighth new vehicle to be announced by Land Rover in its 53-year history and everything about it is fresh. We've even remodelled the badge.

'Much of the development work on this project was carried out when the company was owned by BMW and we worked closely with its engineers to create an exceptional product that blends German expertise with our 4x4 engineering know-how.

'Now we're under the ownership of Ford and we have a new assembly line to make sure the quality of the car fully meets our high aspirations. We're ready to launch what we believe is a significant new product.'

Wyatt said extensive discussions with a large number of customers revealed it was unnecessary for the design team to find a fresh silhouette for the trend-setter of the 1970s.

'We soon realised it made no sense to totally reinvent a shape that is regarded as a design icon. We decided it would be inappropriate to change the DNA of a vehicle that has such a great heritage. But despite that, we have made great strides elsewhere, and we think people will regard the interior of this car as revolutionary.

'We hope they will, because it represents the start of some trend-setting and stand-alone cabin architecture from Land Rover,' he said.

Longer and taller than its predecessor, the new model is expected to be substantially more expensive than the outgoing car priced from £50,000 to £80,000. However, company officials think it will attract about 5,000 buyers next year - more than 1,000 up on this year's total registrations.

Only one body style and two BMW power units will be offered - a 4.4-litre V8 petrol and a 3.0-litre common rail turbodiesel. But Wyatt believes that a possible 650 colour and trim combinations will allow a high degree of personalisation.

'We're introducing 'made- for-me' with this car to allow customers to get what they want from a mixture of cherry wood, burr walnut or a metallic foundry finish on the dashboard, two grades of leather trim and velour fabric. We'll recommend 11 combinations as designer's choices that we think give the car a stunning appearance, and will also offer our bespoke Autobiography service to cater for any other combinations. We think our interior packaging sets a new benchmark,' he said.

Chassis engineering manager John Batchelor said that with independent air suspension, rack and pinion steering and a raft of electronic features, the new model reached a fresh plateau in off-road ability and on-road refinement.

'This car tackles any conditions with ease, and all the driver knows is that he or she is in a very comfortable vehicle,' he said.

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CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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