November 10, 2008
Abbotsford, British Columbia – Land Rovers have a reputation for being as at home in the jungle as they are on the highway, and in the case of the Range Rover Supercharged, at the track as well.
Last year, Land Rover engineers focused their energies on performance and handling, resulting in big advancements under the hood. The big supercharger fitted to their 4.2-litre V8 swelled horsepower and torque numbers to new levels (400 hp and 420 lb-ft), delivering instantaneous throttle response and speed trap numbers that would embarrass many sports and GT cars (try 0-100 km/h in about seven seconds).
In addition, the ultra-smooth, six-speed automatic transmission (with manual mode) mated to this engine delivers power so smoothly that you can almost forget you are driving a sport-utility vehicle. Big four-piston brakes sourced from Brembo guarantee powerful braking performance should your enthusiasm get you in trouble – and they are supported by a host of electronic aides. Add to this precise steering, agile handling, and gobs of style, and the Range Rover Supercharged is an amazingly versatile performance SUV.
But you don’t want to mess with an icon, so the S/C’s exterior styling retains the classic lines immediately recognizable as a Range Rover – a tall greenhouse, a focus on rectangular shapes, and large lighting units front and back. The Supercharged model can be differentiated from its lesser HSE stable-mate by its diamond-mesh chrome grille, clear tail lamps, a pair of vertical “power” vents (that sit immediately aft of the large front wheel openings), multi-spoke 20-inch wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips. The throaty rumble of the exhaust note itself is a dead giveaway should you happen upon one of these beasts in the dark. Silver-on-black Land Rover badges replace the traditional green and gold units fitted to non-blown models.
Lightweight stainless-steel sport pedals and distinctive gauge faces add some flair to the refined interior, as does the black-hued wood trim. As a sentient being you will be impressed by the softness of the fine Windsor leather seating, the aroma of the supple hides, and the visual feast that is interior of this machine. All controls are well-situated for intuitive use and clutter is kept to a minimum on both the dash panel and centre stack. As expected, fit-and-finish is exemplary throughout.
Tall windows and a low-cut door line make for great vistas when touring in this vehicle. Seating is available for five adults, and I did find sufficient headroom in all seating positions for my six-foot two -inch frame, and even my size 14 feet were happy in all positions except the rear centre.
Ingress and egress is quite good for this type of vehicle despite the lack of side steps (this is an SUV with real all-terrain credentials, so side steps would be a no-no, and would also detract from the Range Rover’s smooth lines). The rear cargo area is finished with the same deep pile carpeting as the rest of the vehicle and is accessed via a bi-fold cargo hatch. The lower piece sits flat like a truck tailgate and makes for a convenient place to sit when changing into your Wellington boots or attaching a leash to your Corgi. The substantially larger top hatch swings up with little effort, and offers some protection from the elements when loading luggage or gear. The second row seats are a 60/40 split design and the cargo area holds up to 991 litres (35.0 cu. ft.) when the seats are folded.
The Range Rover S/C is the company’s top-of-the-line offering, so it comes loaded with all the electronic features expected by 21st Century executives, including a three-zone automatic climate control system, a stunning Harman/Kardon Logic7 audio system and a DVD-based navigation system complete with touch-screen controls. A rearview parking assist camera piggybacks off the navigation system, and it now features parking guides that act as visual cues on the dash-mounted screen to help you place the vehicle exactly where you want. Proximity sensors, adaptive Bi-Xenon headlamps, heated and cooled seats, and Bluetooth phone capabilities help top off the S/C’s gadget bag.
An electronic, four-corner air suspension system is on hand to help distribute the load, whether exploring a mountain trail or shuttling the family to practice or the cottage. Should the going get rough, the vehicle offers the incredible Terrain Response system, which allows the driver to adjust its permanent four-wheel drive and traction control systems automatically based on five distinct modes – normal operation, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, deep sand or serious rock hazards. The system is always active and seeks to maintain optimal traction and drivability based on road conditions. A simple-to-operate dial on the centre console quickly adjusts the response of the vehicle’s engine, transmission, differentials, dynamic systems and air suspension to best tackle the surrounding environment.
Hill Descent Control (HDC) is also available at the touch of a button. This will inspire confidence when descending severe gradients as HDC works with the ABS brakes and gears to help control the speed of your descent if engine braking is insufficient due to gravity or slippage.
Few vehicles can match a Range Rover Supercharged when it comes to versatility. It offers the luxury and handling of a high-performance sports sedan as well as the off-road prowess that made the Land Rover brand synonymous with the pursuit of adventure. This past summer Land Rover Canada lowered its pricing structure to account for the improved buying power of the Canadian dollar which means you can now slide behind the wheel of a Range Rover Supercharged for significantly less than before ($110,800 vs. $121,400). Now that is something to celebrate.
Pricing: 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
|Price as tested:||
Manufacturer’s web site
Range Rover Canada