Jaguar Land Rover has engineered its new Range Rover to power to the top of the luxury segment by bench-marking against some of the best saloons in the market.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Alex Heslop, Chief Program Engineer for the new Range Rover, what the vision of the company was when it started with the development of the new model.
Heslop: We did a lot of research, and the customers told us “don’t change it, just make it better”. That’s an incredibly easy thing to say, but very difficult to do. We wanted first of all to improve our sustainability. Number two was to develop a car that can truly compete with the world’s best saloon cars. By that I mean rear seat ambience and space, entry and egress, and – as it is a Range Rover – fantastic on-road and off-road capability.
Going back to sustainability, that was about getting us onto a virtuous weight circle – take weight out, downsize the engine and maintain the performance. We effectively used aerospace assembly techniques to make a body shell capable as a Range Rover needs to be, but 25kg lighter than the 3 Series BMW and 85kg lighter than Audi Q5. It has the world’s largest aluminum body shell – one that is Land Rover capable, but lighter than CD segment cars. That was the architectural transformation that allowed us to downsize the engines. We effectively replaced the 4.4l diesel with a 3l diesel, put stop/start and an eight-speed gear box on it and the aluminum body shell with numerous other weight saving technologies. We created a car capable of achieving figures of 37.7mpg (7.5 lit/100km) and 196g/km.
AI: How does the design reflect the heritage and spirit of the Range Rover?
Heslop: At just under 5m long, the new Range Rover has a very similar footprint to the outgoing model, but with a smoother and more streamlined profile. It is the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever, with a drag coefficient starting from 0.34. The cabin retains the characteristics of extremely clean and elegant surfaces, using the finest leathers and veneers. With over 118mm more legroom, the rear compartment offers more space and comfort, with the option of the new two-seat Executive Class seating packages. Customers are able to create a bespoke vehicle with a choice of colors, finishes and special details, from the color-themed interiors of the exclusive Autobiography series, to a stylish range of alloy wheels up to 22 inches in diameter.
AI: How does the new model compare to the outgoing one?
Heslop: It has been engineered from the ground up to be the most refined, most capable Range Rover ever. With the adoption of the latest body and chassis technologies, the vehicle’s all-terrain performance has moved on to another level, both in its off-road capability and its on-road handling and refinement. Amongst the industry-leading innovations is a next-generation version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response® system, which analyses the current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings.
AI: What can we expect in terms of performance and comfort from the new model?
Heslop: We wanted the car to be competitive with the best saloons. We benchmark and measured the Mercedes-Benz S class, Audi A8, and Bentley Flying Spur, and we’ve delivered a car that is despite being a SUV, is quieter than the A8, and just as quiet as an S class. We delivered a car that is able to absorb undulations in the tarmac road better than the Bentley. For the first time we truly have an alternative luxury saloon. Attention to detail throughout the development process has eliminated all unwanted sounds and traces of harshness. Measures like the rigorously optimized body structure, acoustic lamination of the windscreen and side door glass, and new dual-isolated engine mounts have led to a significant reduction in noise levels.
The new chassis architecture is combined with completely re-engineered four-corner air suspension, and together they have enabled engineers to achieve even more luxurious ride comfort and refinement, in addition to transformed on-road handling, with more confident and agile cornering. Customers have a choice of two petrol (5.0-litre 375 PS LR-V8 and 510PS LR-V8 Supercharged) and two diesel (3.0-litre 258PS TDV6 and 4.4-litre 339PS SDV8) engines, all of which are now paired with a smooth and responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. A lightweight suspension architecture delivers class-leading wheel travel, providing exceptional wheel articulation and composure to deal with the toughest conditions.
AI: Why did you choose aluminum for the new body, and what were the structural benefits?
Heslop: Jaguar Land Rover is in its second decade aluminum body shells. What we do is give the car strength where you need it within the vehicle. That means you need strength within the sub-frames and the suspension system, and you need strength from the body shell – where you interact, where you connect with the suspension system. With the use of Anticorodal®-600 (Ac- 600 PX) we effectively got an all-aluminum monocoque body structure which is 39% lighter than the steel body in the outgoing model. Combined with weight savings throughout the chassis and driveline, the lightweight structure contributes to a model-for-model weight saving of up to 350kg compared to the outgoing vehicle.
The weight saving helps the 510PS LR-V8 Supercharged model to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 5.1 seconds, a reduction of 0.8 seconds over the outgoing model. At the same time, fuel consumption is cut by 9%. The lighter structure has also made it possible to introduce the sophisticated 3.0-litre TDV6 engine into the model line. With performance just as strong as the previous 4.4-litre TDV8 Range Rover, the smaller engine takes the total weight saving up to 420kg, and delivers a dramatic 22% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, achieving figures of 37.7mpg (7.5 lit/100km) and 196g/km.
AI: What are some of the technological highlights of the new Range Rover?
Heslop: Premium features including keyless entry, soft door close with power latching, power upper and lower tailgates, cooler compartments, and an electrically deployable towbar. A high-end Meridian audio system is incorporated into high-resolution displays, which include a full digital instrument cluster and a central 8-inch touch-screen with Dual-View functionality. The latest LED interior illumination creates subtle and sophisticated ambient lighting, with the ability to change the colour scheme to suit the driver’s mood
Driver assistance technologies include two-channel Dynamic Response active lean control, and Adaptive Dynamics with continuously variable damping, adaptive cruise control with a new Queue Assist feature which allows the system to continue functioning at low speeds and down to a complete stop, blind spot monitoring, and a surround camera system with T-Junction view, trailer reverse park guidance, and trailer hitch guidance.