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New Range Rover spied

Making an impression: Artist Bernie Walsh's impression of the new Range Rover.

The next generation Range Rover, due to be unveiled later this year, has been spied undergoing testing

14 May 2001

THIS is the face of the new Range Rover that will supersede the existing model early next year.

The next generation off-roader retains many of the styling cues pioneered by the 1970s original but gains several contemporary touches, including an elaborate multi-lens headlight cluster.

Land Rover Australia managing director John Shingleton says the newcomer is likely to make its local debut in the first half of 2002.

Mr Shingleton says he recently drove the new Range Rover in the UK and - perhaps not surprisingly - suggests it is "absolutely brilliant".

Although it is not due to be unveiled until later this year - possibly at the Frankfurt motor show in September - Range Rover test mules have been spied undergoing testing in the Middle East.

European sources suggest the newcomer will retain a ladder-frame chassis but grow slightly in length compared with the current model.

The existing live-axle set-up used at the front and rear will be ditched in favour of a more modern all-independent suspension based on the system used in the BMW X5.

Pneumatic springs, already offered in the current vehicle, will add to the vehicle's off-road ability and ride comfort.

Land Rover's Ford parent is believed to be working on developing engines sourced from its PAG stablemate Jaguar for the off-roader.

The AJ-V8 engine line-up is likely to be topped by a supercharged 4.3-litre unit tipped to generate 300kW, enough to top the likes of the Mercedes-Benz ML 55.

But the new Range Rover will initially use BMW engines that replace the existing pushrod V8s, which trace their ancestry back to the late 1950s.

The new model needs to be an accomplished performer because the premium off-roader segment will become more competitive when Volkswagen's contender - codenamed Colorado - and Porsche's Cayenne join the fray in late 2002.

British magazine Autocar suggests the Colorado will be offered with V6, W8, V10 and W12 engines, while the Cayenne will also be available with a range of powerplants topped by a turbocharged 4.5-litre V8 that generates 335kW.

Meanwhile, Land Rover is believed to be working on a fifth model line to supplement the Freelander, Defender, Discovery and new Range Rover.

Codenamed L320, the new model will be positioned between the Discovery and new Range Rover. Production is likely to start in 2006.

It will be pitched against the likes of the BMW X5 3.0i and Mercedes-Benz ML320.

Unlike its larger Range Rover sibling, it will use a monocoque construction and be oriented more towards on-road performance than out-and-out off-road ability.

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