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Range Rover gets star-studded debut

Victoria Pendleton and Zara Phillips. The new Range Rover is bigger inside and out and has much more technology.

Mark Knoffler rocked, Zara Phillips and Holly Valance smiled for the cameras, and a wide range of British celebrities including witty comedian Jimmy Carr - complete with toy dog - all made the running.

But it was the $1.6 billion Range Rover that was the star in London tonight. As the off-road limousine waded through a giant fountain at the Royal Ballet School it signalled the renewal of the ultimate Toorak tractor into its fourth generation.

Except that Land Rover says the new Rangie is going green with everything from a lightweight alloy structure to an imminent hybrid - the world's first diesel-hybrid SUV - and enviro leather. ‘We want to make it better in every respect,” the head of Land Rover, Phil Popham, tells Carsguide. That means building a Range Rover that rivals a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class as a luxury limousine, but can still trump a Toyota LandCruiser or Jeep in off-road conditions.

The new Range Rover is bigger inside and out, has much more technology and luxury, and will be priced from $178,900 when it arrives in Australia in January. Jaguar Land Rover will have it in spotlights at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney next month, alongside the latest Jaguar F-Type sports car, but the first 25 cars are already taken.

There are three engines for Australia - 3-litre V6 diesel, 4.4-litre V8 diesel and 5-litre supercharged V8 petrol - and standard equipment includes everything from re-engineered air suspension to a second-generation Terrain Response system, a choice of five or luxury four-seater cabin layouts, and even huge new brakes and alloy wheels up to 22 inches. 

“There are more than 2500 new parts,” says Popham. But the Range Rover still carries the DNA which has made it a global success over the past 40-plus years, in everything from the body design to split tailgate - now fully electric - and the 900-millimetre wading ability that was put to the test tonight.