Range Rover is celebrating its 50th anniversary since it was launched globally and Jaguar Land Rover wanted to commemorate this celebration with an exclusive model – Range Rover Fifty. Limited to 1,970 units worldwide, honouring the birth year. It had set a benchmark for all other 4x4s to follow in terms of design, refinement and engineering innovation.
From its clamshell bonnet, it’s distinctive floating roof, split tailgate and front fender vents, these features have remained synonymous with Range Rover over the past 50 years and that design is what led it to be the first vehicle ever displayed in the Louvre. Engineering wise, the vehicles have evolved, yet remained at the forefront of technical innovation by achieving a number of world firsts along the way.
It was the first SUV to feature a permanent 4WD system when launched, in 1989 was the world’s first 4×4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes. A few years later, in 1992 it became the world’s first 4×4 to be fitted with electronic traction control (ETC) and automatic electronic air suspension, for that wafty, cloud like feeling on and off-road. Then, in 2012, the Range Rover became the world’s first SUV to feature an all-aluminium lightweight construction, making it lighter, stronger and more efficient.
A luxury SUV doesn’t normally find itself in muddy fields being used as designed but the Range Rover has won the Paris-Dakar rally twice. The limited edition Fifty is based on the latest Range Rover Autobiography, available in both standard and long wheelbase body designs and features a smattering of bespoke exterior accents and two new 22-inch wheel designs.
Available in four curated colours – Carpathian Grey, Rosello Red, Aruba, and Santorini Black whilst Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations is offering the Fifty in three very limited Heritage colours reproduced from the original 1970 Range Rover palette; Tuscan Blue you see in the photos, Bahama Gold and Davos White.
Inside, a unique ‘1 of 1970’ plaque will feature on the centre console, headrests, dashboard and illuminated tread plates with a ‘Fifty’ script created personally by Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer, Prof Gerry McGovern OBE.
There has been no indication on pricing just yet but a V8 Autobiography starts at just over £110,000 so expect a premium over that for the luxury of a limited edition.
At the LA Motor show which ended this week, Land Rover Design boss Gerry McGovern revealed Land Rover’s three design pillars giving insight into the future for the brand.
Luxury, Leisure and Dual Purpose are the three pillars that will take the brand through 2015.
The Luxury pillar which is considered to be Range Rover will mean that now all luxury SUVs will wear the Range Rover logo. This pillar has been substantially worked on over the past 24 months with release of all three new models bearing the Range Rover brand. The Leisure pillar which includes the Discovery and the new Freelander replacement which will also take the Discovery name. The Dual purpose pillar is that of the Defender which will be replaced in 2015 which have been seeing for a while now with shots of the DC100 concept.
There will also be another two models entering the range, one will sit between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport and the second is said to be smaller than the Evoque.
Gerry McGovern stated, “We will be focusing more from next year on the Leisure pillar, you will notice differences between Luxury and Leisure, as they’re clearly targeted at different customers and will build the brand significantly.”
The new baby Discovery will have the base underpinnings of the Freelander,but will set itself apart from its luxurious brother the Evoque. It will be more rugged based more on the offroad look with roof rails and under body protection.
Today Range Rover is working as its own brand, with JaguarLandRover dealers now representing all three-brand logos. After the release of the Range Rover Evoque, The Land Rover brand stated that Land Rover dealerships would not only sell Land Rover and Jaguar but will also sell Range Rover. This allowed the company to give the brands their own identity.
“Land Rover is more utilitarian, Range Rover is the top end of luxury,” said Wayne Kung, Jaguar-Land Rover’s manager of national product communications.
Early Range Rover products were utilitarian just as the previous Land Rover models but with a slightly more luxurious feel. Modern luxuries included a cigar lighter and sporty paint. It was not until Range Rover was used in sporting events such as the British Trans Americas expedition in 1972 led by John Blashford-Snell. He used two Range Rovers travelling through swamp jungle establishing the vehicle as a tough Land Rover.
The brand went ahead with advertising the vehicle as one that is as comfortable on the road in a city as it is in the desert. This style is still used today with the adverts for the Range Rover Evoque.
It took until 1981 for Land Rover to start pushing their brand image to the higher end of the luxury market. Over Finch in collaboration with Land Rover designed and built the automatic gearbox fitted in the Range Rover.
Land Rover was never a name synonymous with luxury, but that has changed with its current range of vehicles competing with the most luxurious on the market. Current owners consist of professional footballers and many celebrities who not only own a Range Rover but also choose to add their own bespoke elements, which can be seen on most glossy magazines and newspapers.
Victoria Beckham is the brand ambassador and was on the design team for the interior of the Range Rover Evoque. Putting on an event for the vehicle release in Bejing in 2012, the brand created a viral campaign that was backed by social media marketing via the automaker and Ms. Beckham. Brand analysts judged this as a wrong move by the Range Rover brand as fundamentally it has always been an elitist brand for the ‘posh’ which the Beckham brand does not evoke.
In 2013, Daniel Craig (007 actor) launched the new Range Rover Sport in New York in front of a huge audience. This further propelled the brand into its cool stage, linking with one of the coolest agents in the business.
The new long wheel baseRange Rover was shown off to the public at this years Los Angeles International Auto show. The LWB will be made available to the public in March of next year whilst the more exclusive Autobiography Black edition which is the highest spec will be made available in August of 2014.
In the LWB the rear leg room has drastically increased by 186mm. To put this in perspective, Range Rover has managed to increase the space between the front seats and those in the rear by the length of an iPad mini give or take a few millimetres. This also allows the executive seat option to gain a more luxurious feel by increasing the recline angle by 8 degrees.
What makes the Autobiography Black stand out from the rest?
The Autobiography Black is the most exclusive Range Rover to be made available, with higher levels of luxury finishes and excellence than there are already in a Range Rover. New features have been added that enable the vehicle to have a different personality which can be seen both on the interior and the exterior.
Today’s Range Rover is often found roaming the streets of rich cities, swathed in soft leather and wood trim rivalling the luxury of the iconic Rolls Royce. However, the original Range Rover was not as lavish.
After the success of the seven seater Land Rover in America, the Land Rover team realised a possibility of selling a new type of off-road vehicle with a more sophisticated feel and ride. A two door version was the first Range Rover to be built-in 1970, and soon enough the company realised that the Range Rover may succeed in the higher end of the market.
A ladder-type chassis allowed up to 11 inches of axle movement provided a very sophisticated ride for a 4×4 vehicle making it very durable off-road. Powering this machine was a 3.5l V8 engine with a permanent 4WD system and a lockable differential. To help stop this new Range Rover, disc brakes were fitted to the front and back replacing the conventional drum brakes.
In 1981, the four door version was released with some significant developments such as the automatic gearbox designed by OverFinch and Land Rover. OverFinch still modify Range Rovers to this day. The top of the range vehicles were then given the ‘Vogue’ name.
The second generation of the Range Rover was launched in 1994, the same year that Rover was bought by BMW. A newly styled body and chassis with the same length as the original at 108 inches now with a more powerful choice of engines ranging from a 2.5L six cylinder diesel to the range topping 4.6L V8 petrol engine.
The ‘Classic’ as the original was named ran side by side with the second generation Range up until 1996, when the Classic ceased production after selling over 317,000 units.
By 2001, BMW group wanted to show what they could do with the British brand and launched the third generation Range Rover. A big off-road vehicle which felt at home on the road as much as it did off it. Air suspension was introduced giving the vehicle the ground clearance expected by the Land Rover purists. A 3.0L six cylinder Diesel and the 4.4L V8 powered the SUV up until 2005 when a 4.2L Supercharged V8 and a 3.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 were added to the selection. The selectable 4WD system was now removed from the Range and an all new Terrain Response system was launched in its place, allowing the driver to concentrate on the driving and less on the terrain he is driving on.
The fourth generation of the Range Rover was revealed to the public in 2012, and has now positioned the brand at the top of the luxury SUV list with prices ranging from £75,000 up to £120,000 depending on extras fitted to the base vehicle. This is the first Range Rover to be built with a complete aluminium body and chassis allowing it to save 420kg off the last model. The new model has the updated Terrain Response system among other bells and whistles to allow it to compete with the most luxurious vehicles on the market.
With the Range Rover doing so well around the world, and other car makers trying to muscle into the market, the Range Rover Sport was designed to tackle the new Sports jeeps that were sprouting up. The Range Rover Sport was designed to have optimum on road capability but also usable off-road as was the case with all Land Rovers that came before it. More Tech was thrown at to help counter balance the act of body roll, known as Dynamic response which hydraulically set the ride level depending on the cornering forces.
A new lump sat under the bonnet, a 4.2L V8 natural and supercharged petrol and 2.7L V6 turbo diesel all available when debuted. The Supercharged was the most powerful Land Rover ever produced and has been in the highest demand.
By 2010, the Sport was re-engineered and got some new design cues making it look sportier and more aerodynamic while still looking typically Range Rover. New engines with more power were released with a 5.0L naturally aspirated and the 5.0L Supercharged topping the power charts.
The all-new 2013, Range Rover Sport can boast a sub 5.0s 0-62mph time with a saving of 420kg over its predecessor. Revealed to the public in New York by James Bond actor Daniel Craig, the all-new Sport is also one of the cleanest Range Rovers with CO2 emissions of 194g/km and one of the most stylish made synonymous with 007.
Not to be confused with its predecessor, this is an all new chassis and body with new engines and technology purposely built for the Sport including a sports exhaust, which gives it a throatier sound in the cabin.
The SUV market has been constantly changing over the years, consumers wanting vehicles on both ends of the size chart. When the LRX concept was first revealed, it was accepted with great enthusiasm and it began production in 2011. The Evoque as it was to be known, had to be everything Land Rover and Range Rover has been known for. Uncompromised luxury, impeccable off-road capability. For in town use, the vehicle was also available with CO2 emissions below 135g/km rivalling most hot hatches. For the first time, Land Rover built a vehicle which was not a full-time 4WD system.
Power for the Evoque comes from two turbo diesel 2.2L engines and a new 2.0L petrol engine was also made available. With British fashion at one of its highest points, Land Rover decided to bring in Victoria Beckham as a design consultant for the Evoque’s impressive interior.
In 1948, you could buy your very own Land Rover. If you wanted to visit the company, that’s where a problem arose. Land Rover as a company didn’t exist until 30 years after ‘HUE166’ the first Land Rover rolled off the production line. You were merely buying a rebadged Rover. Considered to be a product line of Rover, which was then purchased in 1967 by Leyland Motor Corporation. A year later Leyland was absorbed into the British Leyland Motor Corporation as part of the Rover-Triumph division.
Five years after the introduction of the Range Rover in 1970, British Leyland Motor Corporation were in financial turmoil causing the company to collapse and be nationalised. A report was issued by Sir Don Ryder under agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom known as the ‘Ryder Report’ where it was recommended that British Leyland treat Land Rover as a separate company forming part of their commercial vehicle group.
Land Rover’s one millionth vehicle rolled off the line in 1976 and two years later in 1978, Land Rover Limited was formed as a separate company from British Leyland. Since Land Rover’s inception in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, the Solihull plant was shared by Land Rover and its Rover counter parts. In 1980, this all changed. Rover stopped producing cars at the Solihull plant and it was left solely to Land Rover.
In this era, Land Rover started restructuring, bringing all of their elements of vehicle production under one roof and improving their products with the likes of the 90/110/127 being introduced to the market. British Leyland group became Rover Group plc in 1986 including Austin Rover Group, Freight Rover, Leyland Trucks and Land Rover Group.
British Aerospace purchased Rover Group plc in 1988, when the group was being privatised for a fee of £150 million. When the deal was audited, it was found that the Rover Group was seriously undervalued. Ford were brought in to value the company and it was given a serious valuation of £800 million. A year later, the Land Rover Discovery was launched and proved to be a great success in the market.
BMW, went ahead and purchased Rover from British Aerospace within ten days of opening negotiations in 1994. Under BMW, Land Rover released the second generation Range Rover, Discovery and also brought out a new product known as the Freelander.
After owning Rover for six years, BMW started incurring immense losses. This led the company to start selling off the Rover group. The Rover plant was sold for as little as £10. BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford for £1.8 billion in 2000 and decided to keep the ‘Mini’ brand to reinvent it. This was the first time Rover and Land Rover were not sold as a unit.
Under Ford’s ownership, The third generation of Range Rover and Discovery were released among the new Range Rover Sport. Jaguar cars had been under Ford’s ownership since 1989. In 2005, the Rover brand collapsed and rights to the name were bought by Ford and the two brands were re-united. When Rover was reunited with Land Rover, Jaguar was brought into the same line. The Rover brand was bought after BMW tried to sell the Rover name to SIAC, Shanghai Automotive Corp, a Chinese automaker for fear of lowering the Land Rover brand.
Seven years on and a global recession hitting hard, Ford had to do its utmost to stay afloat. Funding by the government was not enough and announced that it will sell Land Rover and Jaguar to a suitable buyer. A number of Indian companies and global financial sponsors showed interest in purchasing the brands. A year into negotiations and Tata Motors purchase both Jaguar and Land Rover brands for £1.5 billion in 2008. Ford still had to make a massive $600 million payout to Tata for shortfalls in pension plans.
Jaguar Land Rover was created as a company after the purchase by Tata. Both companies have been doing immensely well, Land Rover hired 1500 more staff in 2011 to help produce their new product, The Evoque. Millions have been invested into the company for manufacturing. Since the Tata take over, it has breathed new life into Land Rover with release of the Evoque in 2011, the fourth generation Range Rover, second generation Range Rover Sport and the fourth generation Discovery. The company is turning a profit since 2010 and doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.
Land Rover is a brand that evokes different emotions from many people in nearly every corner of the globe. From the ‘Chelsea tractor‘ to ‘old faithful’. What started as a vision to fill a gap in the automotive industry back in 1947, with a sketch in the sand on a Welsh beach has now become one of the market leaders in the Sports Utility Vehicle sector.
The brand has diversified its portfolio since its inception, now with over six models for all sorts of lifestyles and terrains.
The fact that cars are getting bigger, parking spaces are staying the same and, according to the Vehicle Licensing Statistics office, road usage has increased by 24.7 million cars since 1950 in the UK means that new gadgets have to come into play to stop drivers from dinging their pride and joy. This can be seen with the multitude of gadgets available in the new Land Rover and Range Rover models including cost options such as a surround camera system available on the Evoque, with cameras strategically placed on each corner of the front bumper, each mirror and a rear facing camera, allowing the driver to see what traffic there is on the road at a junction without having to creep away from the stop sign.
Not only that, but included on your Range Rover is a great driving aid known as Terrain Response 2. In the past, anyone going off-roading needed some basic knowledge on locking differentials and gearing ratios. Nowadays, any Tom, Dick or Harry can jump in their Land Rover and go for a cruise through a muddy track without making a fuss, allowing the vehicle to analyse the terrain and alter the response needed from the engine, gearbox, central differential and chassis.
With stricter policies from governments to be green and sustainable and the introduction of VED rates on CO2 in 2001, Range Rover have created the first Hybrid diesel and their own sub-135 g/km off road vehicle. The smaller Range Rover known as the Evoque was built to compete with other small SUVs which have seated themselves in the market from the likes of Audi and BMW. The Evoque promises a sub 135 g/km so you can do your bit for the environment but not lose out on the technology and capability of a Range Rover. This, for a person on the lookout for a new car means there is a yearly road tax of £125 with no extra first year charge.
If the Evoque isn’t quite your style and you want more space and slightly more presence on the road but still do your bit for the environment; Range Rover have released their new hybrid models in both the standard and Sport guises. Both models will be equipped with a 3.0L SDV6 engine coupled with a 35KW electric motor enabling it rival the power of the bigger SDV8 but being kinder to the ozone layer and your wallet. It emits 169g/km of CO2 emissions meaning as a new owner it will cost £104 a year with a first year charge of £190 under the (TC59) alternative fuel car tax rate and will return an average of 44.1mpg on combined cycle.
The brand may have changed hands over the years and most recently owned by Indian giants Tata. As a testament to how withstanding the brand is, it is said that two-thirds of all Land Rover vehicles are still in use and the new Hybrid Range Rovers have embarked on a journey across 12 countries from Solihull in the UK to Mumbai following the old ‘Silk Trail’ which you can read about in the related articles section below.
Sales of Land Rover vehicles have increased by 13% year up to date and to help diversify their production, the company are to open a factory in Brazil, jumping on the bandwagon as Mercedes and Audi also announced intention on opening respective factories in the area. No news on which cars are to be produced at the proposed Brazil plant.
Will the Land Rover still be around for another 65 years? we will have to wait and see…