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Luxury car of the Year 2012: the new Range Rover

Don’t change it, just make it better” was the simple brief from current Range Rover owners to Land Rover Global Brand boss, John Edwards. Simple, huh? Take a car that’s selling well, even relatively late in its lifecycle, give it an investment-light massage and keep the profit margin as robust as possible. Everyone’s happy. That would be the safe, sensible, dull and corporate thing to do. But not at Land Rover. Because this is a company that has bravery at its heart.

Rather than playing safe and developing, the new Range Rover is an example of boundaries redefined, manufacturing technologies pushed, luxury taken to the next level, and the impact of a car finally taken seriously, from creation to ownership and ultimately disposal.

It’s also a car full of pub facts. The new Range Rover is the first all-aluminium SUV, delivering a 39 per cent weight saving over the previous generation - in some versions, it is 420kg lighter than before. Plus, the use of aircraft-grade bonding and 3,400 self-piercing rivets delivers a chassis that is a third stiffer than the previous model. Fifty per cent of the aluminium comes from recycled content, and 85 per cent of this car is recyclable at the end of its life. Your 2030 fizzy drink can might well be part Range Rover. Even the leather comes with a 46 per cent reduction in carbon footprint, and there’s a lot of leather in a Rangey. Though quite how they managed to get the cows to reduce their emissions is beyond us.

It can wade to 900mm - more than any other production car. It can climb mountains thanks to a magical Terrain Response 2 system and sophisticated four-wheel drive, and it can defy lean through corners. It is bigger, cleaner, more space-efficient than ever before and yet unmistakably a Range Rover. It is more luxurious than strictly necessary, with more legroom, more comfort and more amenity. From the daily slog to work to a cocooned blast across Europe, the RR really can cope with anything. Because, now more than ever, the Range Rover is an all-terrain Bentley. The ultimate car.

Of course, no one really needs the kind of triple-redundancy capability that the Range Rover offers. It’s not cheap, and only the lucky few will really get to enjoy one day-to-day. But knowing that the engineering is so completely bone-deep adds to a sense that you really don’t need another vehicle. That the Range Rover offers an access-all-areas pass to any journey you need to do or care to make. In short, it’s the most capable car of its generation and TopGear’s Luxury Car of the Year. The best has most definitely just got better.

This article originally appeared in the December 2012 edition of Top Gear magazine 

Here’s what happened when Associate Editor Tom Ford took the new Range Rover volcano hunting…

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