First Test: 2006 Range Rover S/C
With just three major revisions in its history, change comes slowly at Range Rover, and to most eyes the 2006 model will appear only slightly altered. The new engines shared with the current LR3 and coming Sport (see the full story in this issue) aren't visible, and one has to look closely to see that the ellipse has gone from gold and green to silver and black, a primary indicator that a supercharger lurks in the valley between the heads.
Puffing through air-to-water intercoolers, the blower drives horsepower up to 400 and torque north of that--increases in the neighborhood of 120 and 95, respectively. Regardless, with such weight (about 5800 pounds) and rotating mass to move along, the supercharger doesn't make a Range Rover fast, but it does gather momentum far quicker than ever before. Normally aspirated Range Rovers use the 4.4-liter V-8 from the LR3, derived from the Jaguar XJ, with only a few modifications. Supercharged models are 4.2 liters because of some added sleeving in the cylinders to help protect the aluminum engine block from the heat created by the Eaton blower. In addition, the supercharged model gets shiny straight exhaust outlets, while the HSE keeps the turndown pipes shared with the Euro-spec inline-six turbodiesels.
Other changes are evolutionary. All the mounts and every major suspension component have been revised with an eye to more control, yet no loss of flexibility or comfort. The upgraded brakes are shared with Range Rover Sport, which required the change to standard 19-inch wheels and Pirelli Scorpion Zeros; the supercharged model's 20-inchers use a lipless outer flange, and they nick easily in the rough stuff, even with the curb guard in the tire. The larger Brembo brakes help the Range Rover S/C stop from 60 mph in 114 feet--impressive by any measure.
Visual cues include a deeper front bumper and three-row grille, new lights fore and aft, larger gills to aid engine-compartment breathing, and a revised A-pillar and laminated front door glass to reduce noise. Supercharged models can be identified by 20-inch wheels, clear taillight lenses, a mesh grille, and silver-on-black logos.
A 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, rear-view camera, and nav are just a few of the myriad standards on the $75,000 HSE; options like adaptive front lights and cold climate package are standard on the Supercharged model, which starts at $90,000.