Range Rover 1983.
|Rovers V8 Engine.|
Top speed of the five-speed is very similar to
that of the four-speed - a maintainable mean maximum of 96 mph (95 mph for the
four-speed) - but mid-range acceleration is much better. Getting from 30 mph to
50 mph takes 9.9 sec in fourth (13.6sec in the four-speed) and 6.8 sec in third
(7.9 sec); the 50-70 mph time in fourth is nearly 4 sec faster. In pitching
second, third and' fourth gears lower than in the four-speed box, Land Rover
have deprived the Range Rover of an "ideal" top gear. The maximum
speed of 96 mph comes up at 4.800 rpm in fourth, 800 rpm over the peak power
speed. Shifting into fifth has top speed wasting away slightlyto 95 mph, at
3,600 rpm, 400 rpm below the power peak. The intention obviously is for the
lower gearing to give the better mid-range performance rather than pitch fourth
a little higher in the hope of improving a top speed which is already
considerably over the maximum permitted limit in this country. At the same time
fifth becomes a near-perfect cruising gear, since 70 mph comes up at 2,700 rpm,
only 200 rpm over the peak torque speed.
The Range Rover is a big, tall, cumbersome-looking car, but it is not a heavy beast to drive thanks to the pleasingly weighted power-assisted steering. Parking manoeuvres require little more than fingertip pressure, but assistance reduces with speed so that a firm hand is needed in fast cornering.
The re-circulating ball steering lacks feel and is a little vague around the straight-ahead position, which calls for some care when threading through traffic on narrower country roads. The lack of feel is built in on purpose, to isolate the driver from the sort of shocks and kick-back that could be transmitted through the steering when the car is driven over rutted or rocky terrain. That lack of feel does not prevent the Range Rover from being placed and held accurately in corners. One of the car's more impressive features is its road holding - straight line stability is excellent, and the car can be thrown into corners much faster than drivers new to the Range Rover would believe possible.
There is a lot of cornering roll, which can be unnerving to the inexperienced. The roll is again a by-product of the car's off-road alter ego - it has long-travel suspension unencumbered by anti-roll bars allowing it to cover tortuous terrain with ease. However, the roll does not impair the car's cornering ability. The body may tilt until suspension movement is taken up, but the live axles stay parallel to the road to ensure thoroughly predictable handling. Having said that, cornering in extremis can have an inside front wheel lifting, as our illustration shows, but even in this situation the driver is aware only of quite manageable levels of under-steer. In less extreme cornering the combination of permanent four-wheel drive and near 50-50 weight distribution results in pleasantly neutral handling.
Reduced levels of gear whine now make the
Range Rover a very comfortable long-distance cruiser indeed, since other sources
of noise are well subdued. The lack of wind noise is particularly impressive
considering the car's bulky shape; there is some hiss and roar from around the
A-posts, but this does not become obtrusive until well above 70 mph. It is only
to be expected that the big, coarse-treaded M+S tyres will generate some road
noise, but again this does not become obtrusive until quite high cruising speeds
are reached. With fifth gear engaged at 70 mph on the motorway it is possible to
chat to rear seat passengers without raising the voice.
Inside the Range Rover retains its unexpected levels of elegance, with cloth upholstery and roof lining and fully carpeted floor -including the luggage compartment. Even the spare wheel, mounted upright in the rear compartment, is carpet-covered. The hydraulic bottle jack and a comprehensive tool kit are also stowed under carpeted panel covers.
Instrumentation remains the same - comprehensive as befits a vehicle which could be called into service as an off-road workhorse - including the odd sitting of the clock and oil pressure gauge in the heater console, low and on the passenger side. Interestingly, with all its luxury, the Range Rover still does not have recline adjustment for the front seats; perhaps it does not need it, since the seats proved comfortable and supportive enough, and there is plenty of head and legroom for six-footers with the seats as they are.
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