Range Rover is still in a class of its own
ESSAOUIRA, Morocco -- Land Rover's fourth-generation Range Rover is still a vehicle with no direct competitors.
The market for large luxury SUVs has been growing and new entrants from Lamborghini and Maserati are due to launch soon, but none will match the Range Rover's off-road ability and on-road dynamics.
Land Rover hopes the new Range Rover will give the brand a similar boost to the smaller Evoque, of which over 100,000 models have been sold since its launch last year.
John Edwards, Land Rover's global brand director, declined to speculate on the new Range Rover's projected annual sales, but he expects the new generation to easily surpass the model's best sales year in 2007 when 32,000 were sold.
"We're targeting successful people who want a product that delivers on rational benefits but is also a true luxury product," Edwards said at the vehicle's press launch here.
In 2011, Land Rover sold 27,000 Range Rovers globally. The United States was the largest market with 9,761 units sold, followed by China at 5,133 and the UK with sales of 4,742. The fourth largest market was Russia, with 2,550 units sold.
Land Rover expects the Range Rover's top three markets to remain the same for the new model. The new Executive Class rear seating option, which has two powered reclining and massaging seats divided by a large center console, is likely to be a popular option in China.
The Range Rover, which is available to order now, arrives first in U.S. showrooms in December, then launches in Europe in January.
Why launched: The latest Range Rover, codename L405, is only the fourth generation in the vehicle's 42-year life span, one of the longest product cycles in the industry. It was time for a new one.
New technology: Start-stop technology for V6 diesel model; second-generation All Terrain Response, which now automatically adjusts to suit the terrain; and Dynamic Response systems for greater on- and off-road control.
What's good? New lightweight aluminum construction allows engine downsizing and enables 426kg weight saving over previous generation 3.6-liter V8 diesel. Consumption is decreased to 7.5 liters of diesel per 100km and performance improved.
What's bad? New design decreases load space volume by 85 liters with rear seats up and 69 liters when down; rear seatbacks don't fold with new Executive Class seating option; expensive.
Base price: 71,295 pounds (UK)
Platform: New aluminum platform
Where built: Solihull, England
CO2 emissions: 196g/km (Range Rover TDV6)
Main rivals: Mercedes-Benz S class, GL class; Audi A8, Q7; BMW X5