• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Urban status symbol

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In today’s world of motoring, many people hate the idea of self-driving cars, while others feel threatened by the technology incorporated in many of contemporary vehicles, which pretty much leaves drivers feeling unwanted and powerless.

 It usually old-timers who are averse to change, but drivers of all generations still enjoys the feeling of being in control. This week,we shall be beaming our searchlight on the current Land Rover. The automaker calls it the “the world’s most feined and capable SUV” and it reallyis.

In fact, if James Bond ever wanted an SUV, there is little doubt he will opt for the British masterpiece, which will make competitors green with envy. Not only can it swing its voluptuous body around corners at fast speeds with dignity, but it’s also a coccon of luxury and safety forboth driver and passengers.

Interestingly, the 1970s model wasnot designed to be a luxury vehicle, but the second generation Ranger in the 1990s transcended the “off-road machine” label to become an urban status symbol.In South Africa, the hub of most vehicle imports into Nigeria, it was the third-generationRover launched in 2002-that became the envy of other designers in the luxury SUV segment, and the 2013 model has just cemented the brand as the godfather  of the segment; the ultimate combination of power, prowess and panache.

All said, many would think, it is because of these technologies that the big Rover’s  one of the biggest dawgs on the roads: Adaptive cruise control now; Now with Queue Assist feature that allows the system to continue functioning  at low speeds, down to a complete stop. Ideal for city driving.

The new terrain response 2: Unlike the older system where the driver selected his preferred suspension for the surface being traversed, this update makes the changes automatically- a boon for novice off-roaders.

Sorround Camera System: The system includes T-junction view, trailer reverse park guidance and trailer hitch guidance.

Systems like adaptivecruise control, lane-keep and active park assist  are actually the forunners of robotic cars nowbeing developed by companies like Google and Volvo. Check out these models as they moght just give you a whole new perspective on this trend.

 So what you really  want to know is how it feels to drive a Range Rover with nobody in it. Compared with the outgoing Range Rover, that’s how this new one should feel: empty, unladen. By building what it describes as the world’s first SUV with an all-aluminum unibody, Land Rover has cut a claimed 700 pounds from its flagship; that’s the mass of five average-size Europeans or 4.1 Americans.

Can you feel the difference? Definitely. This new model is a milestone in industry efforts to arrest the death-spiral of ever-increasing weight, complexity, and consumption that has afflicted the SUV more than most. Automakers’ hands might have been forced by public opinion and fierce governmental fuel-economy and emissions rules, but let’s not argue with the result: better cars for us to drive. And few demonstrate the myriad benefits of making a vehicle lighter and stiffer as dramatically as Land Rover has with this new Range Rover.

Although ownership now rests with India’s Tata Motors and the very element from which it’s crafted has changed, this remains a Range Rover, true to a clear, bright set of styling and engineering principles that have been followed consistently since 1970. Successfully, too. In its last full year of production, the 10-year-old outgoing model defied the usually immutable laws of automotive sales gravity by posting an astonishing 21-percent global sales increase.

Inside and out. Although it comes in  a clean-sheet design, the fourth-generation Range Rover looks quite a bit like the outgoing vehicle. Influence from the Evoque is clear, from the swept headlights to the backwards-sloping roofline and streamlined door handles. It’s unmistakably Range Rover, but there are worries  that the Range could relive the experience of the 2003–2009 Jaguar XJ: a superb, clean-sheet-designed, aluminum-intensive vehicle that was largely passed over by consumers because it looked too much like its predecessor.

MIKE OCHONMA