The LR4 chronicle for CarbonOctane started off with an embarrassing oversight: we forgot to ask Land Rover if we could take their fabled off-roader off road! In hind sight, and as often happens, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The prospect of time in the desert to assess sand traction was not very appealing, what with the temperature gauge inching towards a searing 49-Deg celsius. While we managed to sneak in an off road test of sorts (more on that later), the absence of a pre-approval to venture off-road allowed us more time on the roads. Which, to be honest, is where a majority of today’s 4x4s spend most of their time.
Driving the LR4 on paved roads revealed unexpected strengths – and a weakness too. The LR4 weighs in at a healthy 3,240 kgs (Gross vehicle Weight). For once though, you accept the case that being light may not always be right. The LR4 uses all its mass to good effect in battering down road imperfections. The result is a wonderfully isolated ride that cares not when the road was last paved. The ride quality is supreme and speed bumps are dispatched with consummate ease. Deep ruts caused by heavy-vehicle traffic are soaked up by a generous amount of wheel travel. The engine is barely ticking over at 1,500 rpm while doing 100 kmph – which is where we felt the LR4 and its driver at the happiest. For many reasons, sedate travel yields best results in this vehicle.
You do not speed in the LR4 – because speeding would be a rude activity to engage in, completely at odds with the language the LR4 uses to converse. The LR4’s dialect is heavily biased towards comfort and luxury. The interior is laid out in a pleasing blend of leather offset by aluminum. Wind noise is almost non-existent, despite the boxy exterior. Space abounds everywhere, whether it be leg space, head room, shoulder room or cargo area. This extends also to the third row seating which is possibly class-leading in the way it offers as much space as the second row seats. And all this while still retaining ease of access that does not demand you brush up on Houdini’s contortionist techniques. Thanks to the wide glass are, the driver’s view out is great all around – except when the 3rd row seat headrests are popped out.
You do not speed in the LR4 – unless you are going in a straight line. Feedback is good with no vagueness from the steering wheel. However there is no way you can go around corners with anything more than decent pace. You can almost feel the vehicle shuffling uncomfortably if driven hard in the manner of a sport sedan (why would you do that, anyway?!). While body roll is limited, you just know that the weight and the suspension are being put to tasks not listed at the top of the LR4 job description.
And finally, you do not speed in the LR4 – for the sake of the environment and for the continued health of your wallet. Weight may lend a substantial and safe feel at the steering, but proves the nemesis when it comes to fuel efficiency. True to form and as hinted by its kerb weight, our test LR4 did favor more than a tipple of unleaded when the call went out for extra duty. While cruising along at a 100-120 kmph speeds, the fuel consumption is quite good for a 5.0 V8, sipping 10-12 litres every 100 kmph. Gun the throttle away from low revs however, and the dashboard display for current fuel consumption throws up eye-wateringly robust numbers. This, the aforementioned weakness, is an aberration we have been told, as the new LR4 engine is designed to offer enhanced efficiency with a claimed consumption of 14.1L/100 km.
Not asking you to speed does not mean the LR4 is shying away. The beefy engines encourages immodest throttle when overtaking – not surprising considering the claimed 375 PS @ 6,500 rpm and 510 Nm of torque @ 3,500 rpm. As you can imagine, there’s buckets of torque available on tap from the 5.0 litre V8. Variable inlet manifolds switch inlet tract lengths between 350mm and 680mm to provide high torque at low revs while allowing maximum power at high revs. The inlet tract position is optimized through the rev range at all times and this allows instant access to power. The engine features a unique reverse flow cooling system where the coolant passes through the cylinder heads before the block, allowing the heads to remain cooler. This should definitely further engine life even in a hot climate such as ours. A ZF 6 speed automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes. Harmon Kardon’s sound system pumps out 825W of premium sound through 17 speakers into the quiet cabin.
Features such as Hill Start Assist, Gradient Acceleration Control, Hill Descent Control etc. make it easy for the driver to get about the business of driving regardless of road condition. The height adjustable shocks prove more than a match for any terrain that the LR4 encounters – and also provides juvenile entertainment when stopped at the traffic lights, for those so inclined! Very sad, I know – but there was devious joy in watching drivers in the adjoining lane trying to fathom the LR4’s restlessness! But the real fun and games start with the Terrain Response system which allows the LR4 to keep rolling regardless, of sand, snow or rock terrain.
We pointed the LR4 on to some soft sand (never too difficult when you are living in a built up desert!) to see whether it walked the talk. To say the LR4 was unfazed would be an understatement. It was hard to comprehend how effectively the LR4 was handling the terrain until the photographic evidence showed how deep the tires were dug in while testing. Even where the LR4 was clawing its way through inches think sand, the engine note was barely loud, the body roll almost non-existent as the vehicle continued paying top priority to passenger comfort.
In the end, our only gripe about the LR4 was that the Stop/Start button was placed confusingly close to the power switch for radio/music system. And that surely says a lot for how impressed we are with the LR4 !
Photos By Subodh Shetty