If you've been hankering for a full 2013 Range Rover review since reading our earlier hands on, then hanker no more. We've driven hundreds of miles from Essouriera to Marrakech in the world’s poshest 4X4 and can now bring you our definitive verdict: It's awesome.

Range Rover has been the defining luxury SUV since the first model made its appearance 42 years ago. So successful was the concept that Land Rover has only seen fit to renew the model four times in as many decades.

As is typical with nearly every model line, the 2013 Range Rover (known internally as the L405) is larger and far more luxurious than its forebear. But it has also retained and built upon the unparalleled off-road capabilities that made the original such a resounding success amongst the world’s elite in the first place.

The Range Rover has been given a makeover for 2013.
The Range Rover has been given a makeover for 2013.

Design

Still recognizable as a Range Rover, the fourth generation car has more elegant proportions and features a fresh interpretation of characteristic design elements, such as the clamshell bonnet, undercut shoulderline and a roof that appears to float atop its dark-coloured pillars. This is continued through its flanks, which now feature superfluous gills to make the car look less lengthy than it actually is. These contradict the purity of the otherwise simple, function-over-form aesthetic.

Climb aboard and the Range Rover’s defining ‘command’ driving position is no longer as upright as it’s predecessors’, though visibility is still exceptional. Appointed in a combination of two colours, the cabin is swathed in high-grade materials – its leather trimmed dashboard and headlining and a broad centre console have a real sense of occasion. The switchgear has also been reduced by 50 per cent to augment the spacious feel if the interior – what remains has a high perceived and tactile quality.

The most obvious cosmetic changes are the front and rear lights.

Practicality

But while it’s cabin is spacious and well appointed, there are a few details that appear unnecessary and could get annoying over time, such as the redundant fold down armrests which get in the way of fastening the seat belt. The high mounted window switches on the door are not ergonomically ideal either, though they are far better than the console-mounted switches on the mid-90s to early noughties P38 models.

The 46mm longer wheelbase has improved rear leg and knee room, and an Executive Class seating option is now available. On offer for an extra £2,550 on Autobiography models (£3,860 on the middle-of-the-range Vogue SE), the seating features massage functions and seatbacks that recline a full nine degrees, two degrees more than the standard rear bench.

Access has also been improved. A new air suspension facilitates a 50mm lower access height, to make ingress and egress from the sumptuous cabin less of a chore, and the defining split tailgate has been re-proportioned to make loading and unloading the boot easier.

But with these added conveniences comes a few sacrifices. Though longer and wider, the rear load space is 85 litres smaller with the rear seats up, and the new car’s capacity has also decreased by 69-litres with the seats down. Customers that opt for the Executive rear seat option relinquish even more functionality, as the seats cannot be folded.

The Range Rover is capable of scrambling up the side of mountains, but inside it's luxury all the way.

Performance & handling

Driving the Range Rover is effortless, and equally comfortable at 120mph on the motorway or 5mph through streams and up sheer rock faces.

The new V6 diesel and aluminium body construction has allowed engineers to make the car 420kg lighter than its V8-powered entry-level predecessor. This can be felt not only in its better straight-line acceleration and braking performance but also in its roadholding ability, which is further enhanced by a new independent suspension system and Land Rover’s second-generation Dynamic Response system.

The suspension system controls the front and rear axles independently and can be tuned to enhance low speed agility or stability at speed. Crucially, it reduces body roll when cornering but can also detect and eliminate body rock when travelling over uneven terrain. When paired with Land Rover’s sophisticated second generation All Terrain Response system, which can now adjust vehicle height, throttle sensitivity and wheel slip automatically, the Range Rover is able to travel anywhere you wish to go.

The TDV6 we drove is a good fit for the 2013 Range Rover and is a brilliantly refined powerplant. Developing 258PS at 4,000rpm and 600Nm of torque, the engine propels the new Range Rover to 60mph from a standstill in 7.4 seconds. While those aren’t sports car figures, it’s certainly no slouch. Even while accelerating the cabin remains quiet and it doesn’t sound like an old workhorse once you step outside either.

On the road it felt significantly lighter than the V8 model, which has 100Nm more torque and an additional 80bhp. Unless you frequently tow your boat down to the coast, the V8 offers little by way of additional power and emits 33g/km of CO2; just enough to push it into a higher tax band.

Updated suspension and smarter off-loading electronics helps the 2013 Range Rover tackle all terrain.

Economy & environment

The new Range Rover’s considerable weight savings and refined diesel powerplant do combine to make the vehicle significantly more efficient than its forbears. The V6 is also the only model in the range to feature Stop-Start technology to further reduce consumption and emissions, and is said to emit only 196g/km of CO2.

During our two days with the car we achieved nearly 30mpg, which falls short of the 37.7 rating claimed by Land Rover but not by much. Considering we used the low range mode when driving off road and consistently ran the air conditioner to maintain a cool 18-degree cabin temperature it’s not a bad result.

The new Range Rover has a .34 aerodynamic drag coefficient, which has been improved by 10 per cent over the outgoing model. This was achieved using active air vanes in the grille, aerodynamic underside panels, and improved over car airflow thanks to flush moulding around the more steeply angled windscreen.

The latest car is significantly lighter than its predecessor, so economy and emissions are much improved.

Equipment & value

Available in three trim levels – entry level Vogue, Vogue SE and top of the line Autobiography guise – the Range Rover comes well specified.

As expected, typical luxury features – such as leather seating, 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, heated steering wheel and three-zone climate control – are fitted as standard on the Vogue model, which retails at £70,780 for the V6 diesel and £77, 226 for the V8. The Vogue SE adds creature comforts like adaptive cruise control, Dual View for the central screen, All-Terrain Response 2, and 18-way adjustable front and heated rear power seats for roughly £7,000 more.

At the top of the line is the Autobiography variant, which adds a £16,600 premium and more amenities, such as four-zone climate control, a blind spot monitor, surround camera system, panoramic sunroof and 22-inch wheels. These models start at £87,380 for V6 powered cars and climb through to a £98,395 on the road price for the Supercharged 5.0-litre petrol version.

The Range Rover's aluminium skeleton is incredibly rigid and it sports an array of safety tech.

Safety

The aforementioned Dynamic Response and revised air suspension systems are just two of the safety features present on the new Range Rover. Others standard features include a lane departure warning system, reversing camera, active cruise control with emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system, and a multitude of airbags, including side curtain and thorax airbags.

The aluminium technologies in the new Range Rover not only serve to reduce weight, they also further improve the car’s structural rigidity and overall strength, as aluminium absorbs more energy per kilogram than steel. To illustrate this, the car exceeded standards in a recent US-mandated roof crush test that requires it to withstand pressures of three times gross vehicle weight.

Though Euro NCAP ratings are not yet available for the car we expect a five star rating following the Evoque’s crash test outcome.

If you want to conquer the world whilst cocooned in luxury, there really is only one choice.

Verdict

Even with the SUV market burgeoning with more manufacturers looking for a piece of the pie, the Range Rover remains peerless. There is simply no other vehicle that can drive through mud, ruts, gravel and sand, scale mountains and wade through rivers whilst simultaneously giving you a massage through seats covered in soft Bridge of Weir hides. The Range Rover has always been one of the most well rounded automotive propositions ever conceived, and it just got better.

Key specs
Model tested: Range Rover TDV6 Autobiography
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 
diesel
Power: 258PS (254bhp)
Acceleration: 0-62 in 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Economy: 37.7mpg
(claimed)
Emissions: 196g/km CO2
Price: £71,295 (OTR)

Score: