When India-based Tata took over, many wondered what would be the fate of Jaguar and Land Rover.
The answer, as we were shown at the recent global launch of the 2013 Jaguar XF/XJ all-wheel-drive sedans and Land Rover LR2 compact SUV in Mont Tremblant, is both brands are doing very well.
The AWD Jags have been featured elsewhere on these pages so let’s look at the littlest Land Rover and what’s new for 2013.
The engine in the LR2 is now a 2.0-litre inline turbo four-cylinder sourced from Ford replacing a 3.2-litre Volvo supplied six-cylinder. The new unit produces 240 hp and 250 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Transport Canada fuel consumption rating on the LR2 is 12.0/8.4/10.4L/100 km city/highway/combined.
Top speed is 200 km/h with a 0-100 km/h time of 8.8 seconds. It has a tow rating of up to 1,585 kg (3,500 lb).
It wouldn’t be a Land Rover if it couldn’t go just about anywhere on the planet.
Thus the heart of the LR2 is a full time all-wheel-drive system based on the same Haldex unit as found in the Evoque.
This is not a simple ‘slip and grip’ AWD system, but uses Haldex centre-coupling technology that continuously alters the front-rear torque split, through a hydraulically operated multi-plate wet clutch. The system can pre-engage at rest to reduce wheel-spin from standing starts, engages quickly when traction loss is detected and disengages quickly to optimize the response of the stability control systems.
Only a small amount of torque is fed to the rear wheels under normal conditions, such as on a straight paved road, but in low traction or off-road situations, almost all the engine torque can instantaneously be delivered to the rear wheels, if required.
Land Rover calls this its Terrain Response system and drive modes can be selected by the driver by a simple rocker switch on the transmission tunnel.
Modes are: General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand.
To prove the abilities of the LR2, Land Rover mapped out a very, and I mean very, demanding route that looked like it was hacked out of the Quebec bush, as that is where the driving event was held.
When I stopped off for some coffee at a resort I noticed there were wheel tracks entering and exiting a small pond.
Great, I thought, we’ll go through the water and a little mud and be on our way through the lovely Laurentians as the snow started falling creating a picture postcard view.
We entered a forest down a path with mud, ruts and boulders and it went on from there for more than two hours as we lurched up, down and even canted over to the left or right to the point I thought we were going to roll over in a couple of places.
The trick, LR support people said, was to go slow and steady and DON’T STOP.
Easier said than done.
I got out at one point to try and take pictures and found the ground beneath my feet was gelatinous mud, much like the trenches of WW1 must have been. I barely was able to open the door and get back in, yet on we went.
At one point we came to the edge of what I would call a cliff.
All I could see ahead was sky. Urged to inch forward by the staff, we finally tipped over the verge and there directly below was the ground looking like a wall.
This is where the LR2’s Hill Descent Control (HDC) came in to play. Using the anti-lock brake system, it can be programed to let you go down at speeds that can be changed according to which surface is selected.
I’ve done this before, but it still takes literally a great of leap of faith to never touch the brake and gas and let the system ease you down.
Styling is pretty much the same as before but the interior has a host of detail changes, starting with the new centre console with a seven-inch (178 mm) color touch screen that controls the Meridian Sound System to the optional navigation system.
A way-cool feature is the optional ‘Say What You See’ voice activation system which will prompt the driver visually with the commands he or she needs to speak in order to control functions in the audio, optional satellite navigation, and phone systems.
The prompts are displayed in an easy-to-follow ‘step by step’ format on the screen.
But perhaps the best feature of the interior is the commanding view of the road one gets from the driver’s seat.
Another is the backup camera that lets the driver touch select one of three reversing modes on the screen. It actually lets the driver see where the ball of a trailer is and guides him/her directly to it.
There are four trim levels with pricing starting at: LR2, $39,990; LR2 SE, $44,590; LR2 HSE, $46,990 and LR2 HSE LUX, $48,190.
In the compact luxury SUV segment there are many choices, all competitively priced and all sumptuously equipped.
But what stands out is the essential ‘Britishness’ of the LR2 with the look and feel of great solidity made even more so by that ‘thunk’ sound of the door as it closes.
And, of course, there is that cachet of driving a Land Rover you just don’t associate with its nearest competitors.
Land Rover LR2
Body Style: Compact luxury SUV/CUV
Drive Method: front-engine, permanent all-wheel-drive.
Engine: 2.0-litre inline turbocharged four-cylinder (240 hp, 250 lb/ft)
Fuel Economy: (Premium) 12.0/8.4/10.4L/100 km city/highway/combined
Cargo: 756 litres behind back seat, 1,668 litres seats folded
Tow Rating: Up to 1,585 kg (3,500 lb)
Prices: LR2, $39,990; LR2 SE, $44,590; LR2 HSE, $46,990 and LR2 HSE LUX, $48,190