Lightweight Range Rover heavy in achievement

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Anywhere you want to go . . . The new Range Rover has the power and performance to go pretty much anywhere.

Even great solutions sometimes deliver unexpected fresh challenges.

The work Land Rover put into reducing the kilo count of their imperious Range Rover provides a classic example, with some 420kg - five adults, basically - coming out, largely due to its all-aluminium monocoque.

Although hardly the slimmer of the year, the V8s clocking 2160kg-2330kg, the reduction has nonetheless delivered handling and fuel-burn improvement.

However, it also ultimately affects how far it can be taken in water. Regardless that the maximum wading depth has increased to 900mm, it might have been able to take on even deeper water had it been heavier.

''The reason we say 900mm is because the engineers fear it might start floating beyond that point,'' jokes Tom Dicken, Land Rover's Asia Pacific marketing director.

That would be quite a sight to see.

On dry land, the fourth Rangie in 42 years cuts an imposing figure. Solid, tall - a stretch to access in the elevated off-road setting - and relatively bluff, with the traditional tall glasshouse, yet modern with those Evoque eyes.

Land Rover's intent to match, or better, not just the likes of the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes ML but also the upper end of luxury sedans, is equally well evidenced inside: the quality of its trim, features and refinement is top-notch. There's plenty of space inside, and the comfort levels are unsurpassed, although it can be tailored to utter excess: Some orders break $300,000.

About the only obvious slip-up within the cabin is that there's nowhere to store a key that no longer requires an ignition slot.

The New Zealand line-up of a $195,000 TDV6 with a 190kW/600Nm twin turbo 3.0-litre V6 and two Vogues - the $210,000 250kW/700Nm SDV8 with a twin turbo 4.4-litre V8 and the $225,000 flagship 375kW/625Nm supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol - appears too good for that mud stuff, and since many owners already steer clear of even ''easy'' terrain, it might seem pointless improving this car's remarkable off-road prowess.

No arguing, though, that mucking in is huge fun, for minimal effort. Basically, it's just a twist of the Terrain Response control to either individual terrain settings or simply a new ''auto'' feature that allows the car to figure its own way. Even a novice would have faith.

While the previous model took on seal with wondrous agility, the new is better again; still gloriously imperious, but more athletic, although the plush ride in standard setting almost amazes. Twisting the pop-up rotary gear selector into Sport mode is a key action. This wrist-flick sharpens the steering, firms the variable dampers and alters transmission parameters to hold gears.

Obviously, the Supercharged offers the most prompt progress but, overall, the V8 oiler remains the best choice, although we're told the V6 coming in June is good.

The V8's power putdown is ultra-smooth; the oiler displays no turbo lag under forceful acceleration and the eight-speed's gearshifts are virtually seamless. There's little in the way of road noise, of course, so you can converse in normal tone about how great this car is.