(Continued: Page 2 of 2)
Once up to speed and above 2,000rpm, however, the glory of the supercharger quickly becomes apparent. Push the gas pedal down hard enough to engage kick down, and the turbo comes to life with a turbinelike whine, catapulting the tachometer from mid 2,000s up to around the 5,000rpm mark and the bulky Rover into the territory of the sport sedan. Highway driving in the '07 Range Rover is comfy pleasure: when not thrashed like a racing car, the ZF six-speed gearbox delivers smooth up- and downshifts, and, with the electronic air suspension set to Highway mode, the Rover damps out bumps and expansion joints with ease. Those wishing to push the Range Rover beyond 100mph will be heartened to know that the electronic air suspension lowers the car by an additional 20mm to improve ride stability. The suspension also features manual settings for access (40mm lower than Highway mode), and for off-road driving (50mm higher).
According to Range Rover, the major performance upgrade for the 2007 model is the inclusion of Terrain Response, a system that configures engine, transmission, suspension, and traction settings to ensure the maximum performance in a range of conditions. But we figured: what is the use of a sophisticated system such as Terrain Response if all you ever use it for is negotiating the speed humps on the golf club's driveway?
To test whether the system was worth its stripes, we took the Range Rover to a public off-road vehicle recreation track specially designed to put 4x4s through their paces. We felt a tiny twinge of consternation pulling $100K worth of luxury automobile off the asphalt and onto the rocks, gravel, and muck that constituted the 4x4 Play Area: kind of like we were about to go mud wrestling in a tuxedo. But our reservations subsided pretty quickly, and we dived headlong into the various terrains.
Over rough, rocky area, we set the Terrain Response dial to the Grass/Gravel/Snow setting, which made for a surprisingly comfortable ride over the rubble. The Range Rover's dynamic stability control ensured that the wheels retained traction even when we tried to accelerate quickly and that the car stopped smoothly even under sharp braking. We were also struck by the comfort and support provided by the seats, which struck the balance between being sufficiently padded for everyday comfort and providing the requisite firmness when jouncing over steep ridges. The car was equally comfortable traversing the sand pit: with the Terrain Response set to Sand mode, the Range Rover floated over the sand without once losing traction.
Last and most challenging was the mud pit, which is where the Range Rover met its match. Full of confidence from our consummate negotiation of the previous terrains, we set the dial to Mud and Ruts and plowed headlong into the oomskah of the pit without a second thought for our personal safety or one moment's doubt of the ability of our aristomobile to pull through. Unfortunately, it turns out that our confidence--like the mud--was a little too high, and before we knew it, we were stuck fast and sinking deeper with every tweak of the wheel-spinning gas pedal.
If ever there was a time for the electronic gadgetry to work in concert to get us out, this was it. (We figured that if we had to call out a AAA tow truck, we would at least have the rear-seat DVD system to entertain us while we waited for them to arrive.) Without any forward or reverse traction at all, we set the electronic suspension to High mode, which had the effect of raising the body, and turned control the dial to Rock Crawl, which had the effect of further raising the chassis. With all the systems configured to give us maximum traction and clearance and the noticeable assistance of the four-wheel electronic traction control, we freed ourselves from the mud, which we found out when we got out had been considerably deeper than the height of the wheels. Kudos to Terrain Response for saving our Gucci loafers from the mud.
The EPA's gas-mileage rating for the 2007 Range Rover is 13mpg in the city and 18 on the highway (there is no rating for the mud pit). Throughout our 200 miles of on- and off-road driving, we averaged exactly 14mpg.
One of our favorite active safety features on the 2007 Range Rover Supercharged was its front and rear park-distance control (PDC), which works through a series of beeps. Although Land Rover doesn't provide the same pictogram as in high-end BMWs, it does have an intuitive feature that ensures that the PDC beeps come from the speakers nearest the obstacle in question: rear speakers for obstacles behind the car, front speaker for those ahead. A handy button in the dash also enables the PDC to be turned on or off on demand. Other advanced safety features on the 2007 Range Rover include an as-standard backup camera; a tire-pressure monitoring system; and bi-xenon headlights with power washers.
Power-assisted four-way disc brakes with huge ventilated Brembo calipers on the front wheels are backed up with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist, and dynamic stability control to rein in the Range Rover's 400 horses when needed. In addition to its electronic center differential, the 2007 Supercharged sports an additional rear electronic differential to improve on- and off-road handling. If all else fails, the car comes with eight SRS airbags, including front-, side-, and head bags for driver and front passenger, and head and outboard airbags for rear passengers.
Like all new Land Rovers, the 2007 Range Rover Supercharged comes with a transferable four-year/50,000-mile warranty. It is also covered by a six-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion perforation warranty.