The all-new 2013 Range Rover
Has Land Rover gone too far in Exploring a new design language?
By Shahzad Sheikh
Prompted by wholesale leaking of images on the internet and a fast-approaching on-sale date (next month!) Land Rover has at last officially revealed images of the car that’s been spotted all over Dubai in recent weeks in light camouflage – the all-new Range Rover.
This isn’t just a refresh or a mild makeover, it’s a completely new car that endeavours to take over the illustrious ‘King of the Hill’ mantle of the big daddy Range Rover.
Touted as the world’s first SUV with a lightweight all-aluminium monocoque body structure, the fourth generation Rangie has lobbed a whopping 420kg off the previously substantial weight (39% lighter).
The suspension has been extensively revised, not that there was much wrong with the decade-old current car’s ride, as it had evolved beyond its previous roly-poly leanings. The Terrain Response system also gets a work over – but again, how did they improve something that’s already brilliant?
Inside there’s an improved quality of materials, the sound insulation has been ramped up, and there’s 118mm more legroom and of course the electronics have been uprated.
So frankly it’s all sounds brilliant, and when it goes on sale in September it should sell-out and people will kill for the first deliveries that arrive in early 2013. Another massive success for Land Rover, securing the future of an icon and a legend, job done!
Not quite so fast… We desperately want to like the Range Rover, because we’re big Rangie fans here at MME, so we’re reserving final judgement on the car until we see it for real. But trawling through the web and social media, the new styling does not appear to be meeting with universal approval with unflattering comparisons to the Ford Explorer – although the Ford’s a pretty handsome car in itself.
The problem I believe, is one that every car manufacture in possession of a cult-classic design faces when it comes out with an all-new model. It has to retain enough of the original car’s identity to maintain brand loyalty and retain the heritage of the badge, but at the same time it has to be significantly different enough to make a very clear statement of being entirely new.
It’s the dilemma that the designers of this 2013 Range Rover would have faced, and they certainly gave into the temptation to introduce some radical departures from the traditional Rangie themes that people have grown very used to.
The strong jutting-jaw bumper has vanished, the previously upright grille is slanted back and the massive and purposeful headlights have been on a low-carb diet and slimmed down significantly. So much so, that the space that’s left over, is filled with gills. Following the style of the Evoque, the lights sweep back into the fenders, which is again a departure.
Thankfully the fluted bonnet and ‘Range Rover’ bonnet script remains, and the overall silhouette is familiar. The side gills have broadened out significantly, multiplied and stretch the full height of front door now, which gives the doors a slightly crumpled look. The pillars are now far less pronounced sitting flush with the glasshouse.
The glazing height also appears to be lower than before with the roof appearing to slope down more significantly at the back – which would worry me slightly as the large glass area was one of the most appealing traditional aspects of a Range Rover. I do hope it’s maintained the throne-like upright, arm-on-the-door high seating position.
The rear is more familiar although it seems to have a great departure angle due to a more tapering bottom edge, and the taillights mirror the fronts by intruding into the fenders – both have perhaps an unfortunate similarity to the much cheaper Explorer.
Personally I think it’s a grower, and may take a little time to get used to. It’s a new car that jars because it apes a design that is reassuringly familiar, but introduces bold new styling statements that seem to contradict the messages of the previous car. Seeing it in the metal will confirm whether it retains the dignity and attitude that needs to be inherent in a Range Rover, and sitting in it would confirm if it still feels like one.