2012 Land Rover Range Rover SuperchargedView Vehicle Profile
2013 Range Rover Supercharged is one hard-working beach bum
British off-roader makes short work of Moroccan sand dunes
I remember sitting in my family’s York Mills area living room as a boy and watching ’s Marlin Perkins circle in a helicopter while his trusty partner Jim stood atop the hood of their Land Rover while trying to tag an angry White Rhino.
It was the first time I had seen the classic British off-road vehicle and it became an instant icon in my young mind. I would guess the year to be somewhere around 1972, which meant the ultimate safari vehicle already had a little brother in the stable.
Introduced in 1970 as a more mainstream motoring solution, the Range Rover would go on to establish its own iconic station in the adventure landscape and do it in grand style.
That first Range Rover was produced for an incredible run of 26 years. A perennial favourite with royalty, the first generation Range Rover became the vehicle of choice for British gentry who preferred to be comfortable while traversing mucky or flooded laneways. The second and third generations of the Range Rover became progressively more posh, as consumers begged for luxury alongside off road prowess.
An important part of developing any new model is to garner input from a vehicle’s most fervent fans to see what they would change about the vehicle. When Land Rover polled existing Range Rover customers, they were presented with a recurring answer that would be very challenging to fulfill.
“Don’t change it. Just make it better.”
It meant that the next generation had to most importantly, look and feel like a Range Rover. It had to have the technology to tackle anything Mother Nature might throw at it, yet have the poise to perform on road at speeds of up to 250 km/h. Right.
At first glance, the casual onlooker could be excused for thinking the differences between the 2012 and 2013 models were superficial, thanks to some subtle visual trickery. In reality, the roofline of the all new vehicle is 20 mm lower than the outgoing model while the vehicle’s overall length is 27 mm greater than the 2012. A more steeply raked windshield offers better aerodynamic efficiency than the previous model. Also, the wheelbase has been stretched by 40 mm which has allowed for 120 mm of extra legroom for rear seat passengers.
A greener drive, too. The entire body shell is built of aluminum, up to 75 per cent of which is reclaimed product. Each Range Rover also uses up to 31.5 kg of recycled plastic, which Land Rover claims will divert 8,820 tons of plastic away from landfills throughout the car’s product life cycle. These recycled materials consume less energy to produce than it does to use raw materials and the aluminum construction allows for weight savings of 420 kg over the outgoing body constructed from steel, both of which contribute to reducing the Range Rover’s impact on the environment.
At the heart of the underpinnings is a supercharged 5.0 litre V8 engine that sends 510 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Even though this is a drop in CO2 emissions of 7 per cent over the 2012 model, this combo allows for a sports car-like sprint from rest to 100 km/h of just 5.4 seconds. The Range Rover also tows up to 3,500 kg.
Power alone doesn’t make for a competent off-road vehicle. The 2013 Range Rover is equipped with the fifth generation of Land Rover’s incredible four wheel independent air suspension. This system, coupled with the spectacular Terrain Response 2 setup is the most advanced drive combination on the market. Drivers can choose five different driving modes, or just let the automatic setting look after everything for them. Adjusting for conditions faster than any human could, the system operates so flawlessly that it will be a revelation for any experienced off-roader.
I tried the new Range Rover in Essaouira, Morocco, a fortified port city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has become a Mecca for kite surfers thanks to its broad, sandy beaches and predictable winds. Our morning began with a sprint along a vast beach. It was a scene which resembled the closing stages of the Dakar Rally.
From the beach, we turned inland to tackle the rolling sand dunes. As any kid who has tried to ride his bike across the beach will tell you, sand is one of the most challenging surfaces to drive on, as it just sucks the vehicle down into its clutches. Bearing in mind that these were completely stock vehicles: right down to the all-season tires, the Range Rover was absolutely stellar in the sand. Even when tasked with climbing a steep hill, the Rangie just bogs down and gets to work without even a hint of drama.
British land owners apparently deal with flooding on a regular basis, so Land Rover engineers are very proud that their unique air intake system allows the new Range Rover to wade through standing water up to 900 mm deep. As the sand receded, the surface changed to rock and our path turned into a boulder strewn goat trail. With the torrential rains, in many places there was fast running water that was easily 500 mm deep as we slowly powered our way through, snug in our luxurious cocoon.
Arriving in dealerships in December, the 2013 Range Rover Supercharged will start at $114,750, a $2,400 premium over the 2012 model. Not to worry though, as the fuel savings over the previous model will add up quickly. Although most Range Rovers in Toronto will spend most of their time navigating the parking lot at Yorkdale, which the vehicle is more than happy doing, there is just so much more to it. Even if your version of adventurous is opening the cottage a few weeks earlier, the Range Rover will happily clamber through the cottage road muck and mire to get there.
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Gary Grant was provided by the manufacturer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 Range Rover Supercharged
ENGINE: 5.0L V8 Supercharged
POWER/TORQUE (hp/lb.-ft.): 510 hp/461 lb-ft
FUEL CONSUMPTION: N/A
WHAT’S BEST: Luxurious interior, off road capability, sports car-like handling on road.
WHAT’S WORST: I’m only 5’10” but I hit my head on the a-pillar every time I get inside.
WHAT’S INTERESTING: Split power tailgate offers easy access to cargo space for different size loads.
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