Lifestyle

New Range Rover is one fine puddle jumper

Tata Motors' Range Rover among the best.

CB_Range Rover

According to its spec sheet, the all-new 2013 Range Rover can drive through water up to 900 mm deep. Which is to say that—albeit decades too late for Keith Moon—we finally have a luxury car you can drive through the shallow end of a swimming pool.

As much as I wanted to give that a go, local pools were long closed when my test car was delivered, and all nearby streams frozen solid. A grouse-hunting expedition to Scotland was also out. Settling on another all-English Range Rover–type activity, I loaded the family into the car, heading north for a day of horseback riding.

Please understand that in the U.K. the Range Rover is part of the natural landscape—“like Blenheim Castle, or the Cotswolds,” as my friends at Top Gear once put it. It is one of those iconic nameplates that manages to elicit as much attention with each new release as it did with the first. Which is really saying something, when you recall that the original 1970 edition was once held in the Louvre as “an exemplary work of industrial design.”

range-rover-graphic

Despite the famously troublesome build quality of British Leyland, that model enjoyed a 26-year run. Its unloved replacement was born on the half-interested watch of British Aerospace, and the third edition was developed under BMW (then tinkered with under Ford). That makes this new Rangey only the fourth in 43 years—and more important, the first to emerge from the new era of South Asian ownership of the Tata Group.

Many feared the luxury brand would be an awkward corporate fit, since Tata also makes the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, which retails for just $2,500 (about the price of a decent set of snow tires for this new Range Rover). I wish my test car had come with some. But the same all-season tires that made it a handful on snowy city roads did add to its smoothness on the highway. As did the improved aerodynamics—namely the lower roofline, and rearward sloping, flush-bumpered front end. The new car is less upright than its predecessors, but the family resemblance nonetheless remains assertively intact.

Less so beneath the skin, where the car has gone on a high-tech aluminium diet that has seen it shed an astonishing 400-odd kilos while gaining 30% more stiffness in the chassis. In the process, the new car has gained much agility and efficiency. And speed, too, if you opt for the model I drove with its preposterously powerful supercharged V8. The shifts of its eight-speed automatic are virtually imperceptible, the steering impressively precise, and the ride smooth long after you have left the speed limit behind.

Which is to say this truck is as much at home on a Canadian highway as it is over rocks, streams and swimming pools. If thrift dictates that you manage with just one luxury car instead of two or three, consider this $130,000 520 bhp SUV the only real ticket.

Jacob Richler is a Toronto-based writer and author of My Canada Includes Foie Gras

Eliminate your blind spots

Graham Roumieu

With your face against the window, turn mirror till you barely see the edge of your car

Now, lean as far as you can into the passenger side and do the same with that mirror

Done correctly, a car that exits your rear-view should immediately appear in your side-view

Don’t be alarmed when you suddenly realize you’ve got more company than you thought