Land Rover/Range Rover 2012 Models15 | 11 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Land Rover and Range Rover put their new 2012 models through their paces in Scottish Borders

    THE HILLS, MOORS, country tracks and even rivers of the Scottish Borders have been reverberating this month to the sound of the latest models from Land Rover which have been put through their paces by Europe's motoring media. Following on from the launch of the much-awaited Evoque (watch our video of the Evoque, and read our roadtest), Land Rover has been back in the Border country to go the whole hog with the launch of their updated range which will hit the showrooms in the New Year.

    Road driving routes from Edinburgh through Melrose, Jedburgh, Duns and North Berwick have been used for the latest Defender, Discovery, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. With an overnight base in Kelso on the Duke of Roxburgh's estate at Floors Castle, the highlights for the hundreds of journalists from a total of 14 countries — including Russia — have been the dramatic series of challenging off-road courses on the old Roman road at Dere Street, Hownam and the most dramatic through forests and rivers at night in darkness. The second day was spent at Abbey St Bathans and Rawburn and over the sweeping grouse moors of the Lammermuir Hills including a coffee stop in a bothy at Kippet Law.

I joined one of the first groups to test out the 2012 model range and I have to say I was mightily impressed at how they handled some of the toughest off-roading I've ever experienced in thick claggy Border mud, dropping down and scaling breathtaking rock faces and diving through deep rivers, at times with the water lapping over the bonnet. This particular part of Scotland has never looked better in the autumn sunshine and it's great to see such a major manufacturer coming here to show off its vehicles to the world.
Here's a brief rundown of some of the latest changes to the Land Rover range: 


    The old faithful, which has effectively been around since 1948, comes with a new cleaner but just as powerful 2.2 litre diesel engine to replace the outgoing 2.4 litre. The current model is now in its fourth year but retains the original 60-plus-year-old profile and looks as good now as it ever did, which speaks volumes for the quality of the original design. It still sells around 25,000 a year around the world to customers who want its stunning go-anywhere ability.

    The interior is more refined than ever and there's even the option of a £1650 comfort pack with air con, CD player, electric windows and remote central locking — quite a contrast from the old days when air conditioning involved opening a large flap below the windscreen. It's still a bit of a truck to get in and out of and to drive, and you do need a bit of muscle to select the low range gears and the differential lock … but I love it. There are now 14 body styles, from pick-ups to station wagons, and prices start at £20,995. 


    The latest Discovery4 is also cleaner than ever, with reduced CO2 levels and increased power from its new 3.0-litre diesel engine, along with upgraded audio and navigation systems. The upgraded eight-speed transmission system is a lift from the Range Rover and helps reduce consumption and emissions, as well as allowing smoother gearchanges. Driver Type Detection monitors how the vehicle is being driven and its systems to adapt the response of the gearbox to the driver’s style, while Curve Detection makes sure the gearbox avoids unwanted upshifts and holds on to the same gear when taking a sequence of bends. It's very clever and results in a smooth ride whatever the conditions.

    What's remarkable about the Discovery4 is its comfort on-road, and yet its ability to take on virtually anything off it, thanks to Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control. There are three new option packs: the Technology Pack, which includes off-road navigation, as well as ‘Say What You See’ voice activation and parking aids for the front and rear with rear view cameras. The HSE Luxury Pack includes Xenon adaptive front headlamps including cornering lamps, a Harman Kardon 17-speaker 825W audio system, full-length roof rails and a cooler box in the front centre console. The Vision Assist Pack has automatic headlamps and the surround camera system including approach lamps, tow assist and tow hitch assist. Range starts at £37,995. 

    Range Rover Sport

A welcome modification to the hugely popular Range Rover Sport is a redesigned, one piece aluminium powered tailgate which can be operated either from a button on the dashboard, the key fob or the tailgate itself; and the lift height can also be set for different drivers. There's also a more powerful 255bhp version of the revised 3.0-litre diesel, which also reduces CO2 levels, and the entry level 211PS engine has improved economy to more than mpg.

    For the first time on the Sport, the 7in dashboard touch-screen has optional Dual View technology, allowing the driver to view the navigation display while the passenger watches a DVD. Rear seat passengers have an 8in screen with cordless wifi headphones. The transmission is delightfully smooth and again the car is remarkable in its ability to change personality from a luxurious cruiser to a rough, tough offroader. Prices start at £48,795.

Range Rover

"Inside it's a fantastic place to be," said Paul Walker, Land Rover's chief engineer of the latest Range Rover, which they claim is the most capable and luxurious SUV in the world. It is a big claim, but I can't really argue with it. It's an expensive piece of kit, selling around 30,000 a year, and the Land Rover factory is at maximum output on two shifts a day just to keep up with demand.

    For next year the flagship has only minor cosmetic changes, including a new black face around the front grille and two new colours of Fuji White and Baltic Blue which replace the old shades. There's also the option of illuminated treadplates on the front doors and the Range Rover name backlit with LED lights. Prices start at £69,495.

    Read Jim McGill's roadtest of the Range Rover Evoque, and watch the video

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    Alan Douglas

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