Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

New Range Rover: JLR flagship sets sail

As one would expect from the flagship in the Jaguar Land Rover fleet, there has been a lot of hoopla around the world reveal of the newest, fifth-generation Range Rover. It’s hard to believe that’s only a new one every decade since the marque’s debut in 1970, and, as one expects, it’s a showcase for the latest developments in automotive aesthetics, luxury and technology.

South Africa only gets its first new Rangy in mid-2022, when pricing will also be revealed, so for now it’s just a virtual tour of the looks and the tech.

Designer Jerry McGovern seems pleased with the latest iteration, which looks like something from outer space and has called on all the latest engineering techniques to provide a slabby, super-clean design with flush glazing that has a low 0.30 Cd figure. It refines the defining elements of the lineage: a sloping roofline, solid waistline, short front overhang, long rear and a horizontally split tailgate.

A new chassis format called Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA-Flex) allows for long- and shorter-wheelbase versions, giving the option of a seven-seat, standard five-seat and luxury four-seat configuration.

Trim choices for SA are from the top drawer HSE or Autobiography levels, with a First Edition for the initial sales phase, plus access to further custom options via JLR’s Special Vehicles Operation – with names like the SV Serenity and SV Intrepid.

The interior is a class act of superb materials and pleasing engineering detail, with very few dials and buttons and most infotainment and vehicle comfort functions hived off to a 13.1-inch convex floating central screen with a haptic function (you feel the response). This is the most sophisticated version yet of the company’s Pivi Pro system. The driver gets a bigger (13.7-inch) TFT control screen, with a head-up display, plus voice control for all sorts of things. Connectivity is at a very high level, as the vehicle is its own 4G wi-fi hotspot, and the twin screens facing the second-row passengers operate as smart TVs. The 35-speaker 1600W Meridian sound system provides noise cancelling tech via speakers enclosed in the headrests, so reducing road noise and vibration for occupants.

All the passenger doors are power-assisted, with a soft-close feature, and the rear luggage compartment with its auto-opening cover also has a movable floor useful for pushing back to hold small items, and moving forward to act as a backrest for those tailgate parties.

Another clever feature is called eHorizon Navigation which uses data read from the road ahead to pre-emptively calibrate suspension response. It’s part of what JLR calls Dynamic Response Pro, roping in the Adaptive Cruise Control and Steering Assist for that signature cosseting ride – helped by the latest air suspension now hooked up to an all-new five-link rear axle, plus a new 48-volt electronic roll control system acting on the anti-roll bars, variable according to road conditions.

Lights have received special attention, and include new smart LED headlights with adaptive beams to modify the light throw to take forward conditions into account, clever rear lamps hidden under a dark layer until the vehicle is started, and manouevring lights which throw a ‘carpet’ of light around the vehicle to assist low-speed moves in the dark. This operates in conjunction with the vehicle’s multiple sensors and four cameras, providing added virtual views when required, including of the ground under the vehicle. They are also used in the Rangy’s latest party trick – the ability to park itself, so long as the driver is no more than three metres away.

Then of course there is rear-wheel steering, giving up to seven degrees of rear-axle movement in-phase for more high-speed stability, and the same opposite-phase to the front wheel angle for a tighter turning circle.

Good news for off-roading ability is that the Range Rover retains a two-speed transfer case linked to the 8-speed ZF auto transmission, and an Active Locking Rear Differential, which works seamlessly in the background. It all sounds like gibberish, but JLR says the traction head honcho is the Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD) system. This in turn controls the intelligent All-Wheel Drive (iAWD), with feedback from hundreds of sensors monitored and used to optimize forward progress by the latest Terrain Response 2 system, which offers up to six user-defined driving modes. So yes, it can tackle anything from the local car park to the lower slopes of Everest.

The powertrain choices for SA are an interesting blend, working towards the arrival in 2024 of an all-electric Range Rover. The big meneer will be the petrol P530, using a BMW-sourced twin-scroll turbo V8 with a displacement of 4.4-litres and 390kW/750Nm on tap, promising a 4.6-second 0-100km/h sprint. Glorious, and old school.

Next up is the six-cylinder Ingenium diesel D350, with 257kW/700Nm, and a 6.1-second sprint time.

The clever stuff is in the new Extended Range Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) derivatives, the 323kW P440e and 375kW P510e, which combine a six-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine with a 38.2kW lithium-ion battery that powers a 108kW electric motor. JLR claims these drivetrains offer up to 100km of all-electric driving at speeds of up to 140km/h, but put the hammer down in the P510e, and it will zip to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds.

Sure, the latest Range Rover is a remarkable tech fest, with 125 patents on all the new gizmos developed for the vehicle. Before turning a wheel all the systems were subject to accelerated testing, and the production vehicles were cycled through conditions from freezing cold to scorching hot. Will it all stand up in the real world? We can’t wait to find out.

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