Talk of tighter corporate average fuel economy standards in the United States has not deterred Land Rover from cranking up the advance publicity machine for its all-new Range Rover. It has released ‘official’ photos ahead of the new model’s January Detroit motor show debut and February on-sale date.

BMW finished off the £1.0 billion job of engineering the new model after Ford last year relieved it of Land Rover (for just £1.8 billion) so the new vehicle will, at least initially, have German-designed 4.4-litre petrol V8 and 3.0-litre turbodiesel six-cylinder engines. Future engines will probably come from the Ford Premier Automotive Group stable at facelift time.

The new Range Rover for 2002

Despite the stirrings of an anti-large-SUV movement worldwide, Land Rover has increased all key dimensions of its new flagship, using a monocoque body shell in place of the previous body/ladder frame chassis construction.

Outside, although every panel is new, there’s a return to the original 1970 model’s key design features – round headlights, ‘clamshell’ bonnet, prominent swage lines each side of the bonnet, black screen pillars and even vents aft of each front wing that look like that first model’s door handles. The familiar split tailgate (prized by upper crust picnic connoisseurs) and slat grille made it to RR Mark Two and carry over to the new model, too.

Familiar first-glance looks were deliberate. “We believe it is essential that people instantly recognise the new vehicle as a Range Rover,” Land Rover chairman and chief executive Bob Dover said.

According to the first photos, the new ‘Rangie’ cabin looks a bit like its stylists trained with IKEA furniture designers or the guys who came up with the current crop of Japanese mini stereo systems – all light woods, leather and bright aluminium inserts. However, there will apparently be a vast choice of colours, trims and finishes as custom-built models replace the outgoing model’s structured trim/equipment range.

The new Range Rover cabin, if not all of the exterior, has originality on its side, sharing only a few dashboard buttons and sat-nav audio system with BMW cockpits.

Full-time four-wheel drive (again) and independent suspension all-round feature along with range-wide air suspension which sets ride height according to conditions and, reportedly, can make the big SUV ‘kneel’ for easier passenger access when a door is opened.

Anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control and Land Rover’s off-road nanny, Hill Descent Control, are also standard.

The latest Range Rover is only the third all-new model in 31 years and is being built on a new production line at Land Rover’s manufacturing plant in Solihull, on the outskirts of Birmingham in the English Midlands. It will eventually be sold in 124 countries.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Land Rover Corporate Profile

The world’s car manufacturers: A financial and operating review (download)