Land Rover Range Rover
Range Rover Mk2
1 May 1995
At the 1994 UK launch of the Range Rover Mk2, Land Rover said that in 1980 over 80 per cent of its exports went to Third World markets, but by 1990 almost 90 per cent were First World-bound. That helps explain the Range Rover Mk2, released here in May 1995.
Financiers not farmers came first, reflected in its hugely improved (and much needed) space efficiency, refinement and on-road capabilities – an upshot of a totally new ladder-frame chassis and completely redesigned (though stylistically similar) body.
Quality improved too. Beefed-up versions of the ex-Buick V8 were the Range Rover’s mechanical mainstay, split into 132kW/304Nm 4.0-litre and 157kW/358Nm 4.6-litre units.
The former powered the base SE (featuring dual airbags, ABS, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, a CD stacker, keyless entry, alloy wheels and an alarm), while the luxurious HSE added traction control, leather, wood and a sunroof.
But despite being gutsier, big weight increases tempered some of the performance gains while fuel economy suffered. Still, the Range Rover was far more comfortable and pampering.
And none of the renowned fulltime 4WD abilities suffered thanks to short overhangs, high ground clearance, retention of the brilliant long-travel coil suspension and electronic driver aids like traction control.
The four-speed automatic gearbox featured an H-pattern for single-lever high and low range ratio operation.
The limited-edition Autobiography of May ’97 topped the range with its burr walnut and leather trim, while on the other end of the scale the S model arrived in early ’98, with a 4.0 V8 and most of the SE’s gadgets.
In January ’99 a round of improvements saw a small front facelift, new cabin trim and the inclusion of a traction control system and front side airbags in all models.
A year later the SE disappeared, the S gained power front seats and a better audio system, while the old Vogue name resurfaced as the HSE-topping flagship.
Motivated by a less powerful (150kW) but torquier (380Nm) version of the 4.6-litre V8, the Vogue added more luxury and satellite navigation to its features.
The Mk2 Range Rover proved popular but wasn’t the design or cultural breakthrough its iconic predecessor was, so BMW – owner of the marque from 1994 to 2000 – implemented a clean-sheet redesign that built on the advances of the BMW E39 5 Series-based X5 range.
The Mk3 shared nothing with previous Range Rovers. It debuted locally in July 2002.
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