2012 Land Rover LR4 Pursuit

Flying Business Class, SUV style
By Imthishan Giado

2012 Land Rover LR4

Apologies if you came to this page looking for a review of the Mad Max Pursuit Special. If it’s any consolation, I felt equally misled when Land Rover called me up and asked if I wanted to review their ‘Pursuit’ car. Imagine my disappointment when what showed up was what appeared to be a plain old LR4 with a ladder on the back!

2012 Land Rover LR4

The whole Pursuit thing is a bit ridiculous really. For the hefty price of AED276,000, you get a front brush guard, tough-looking covers for your headlights and taillights and a not-exactly-easy-to-access ladder on the back. Appearance mods I don’t mind, but what I do take objection to is the big 19” alloys and chunky sidesteps. Nineteen-inchers are good enough for wadis and the like, but too big to go offroad into the seriously sandy bits – and the sidesteps don’t help either by limiting your breakover angles. Prepare to spend a lot of time being yanked off the tops of dunes…

2012 Land Rover LR4

In all other respects however, the LR4 remains one of the very best luxo-4x4xs money can buy. Despite being revealed all the way back in 2004, the minimalist styling still feels contemporary to the eye and the bejewelled headlamps aren’t as distracting as they are on the big-boy Range Rover.

2012 Land Rover LR4

And that boxy shape is a bonus – it means there’s plenty of space inside for up to seven passengers to be seated comfortably (yes, even in the back). Particular highlights are the front seats, which with their raised pews provide a throne-like view of the road, your elbow perfectly positioned for the door sills. The main console is still a bit of an identical-button party but thankfully, there are still knobs for tuning the radio and the A/C.

2012 Land Rover LR4

Not that this car is short on technology. The LR4 is now running the latest JLR software for HVAC and audio, a system that first showed up on the Evoque. It’s a bit sparse with only three main screens and some navigation elements fall prey to the stylist’s trap of looking good but being kinda hard to locate in a hurry. Nevertheless, it all becomes second nature fairly quickly and the stereo kicks hard, if not quite as hard as the one in the Sport.

2012 Land Rover LR4

How does the LR4 drive? Very well, if without quite the finesse of a Range Rover. With 375bhp and 375lb ft of torque, the 5.0-litre V8 packs a mighty wallop and the big Landie never feels lacking in power, even though it weighs more two and half tonnes, getting off the line easily. It’s only at the higher speeds above 120kph that the massive kerb weight and lack of aerodynamics begin to work against you, but until then this is a great powerplant, smooth and unstressed and well matched to a slick shifting six-speed automatic.

Handling is perhaps my only disappointment – and that too, only because I’ve driven the Range Rover Sport, essentially the same car but with active roll bars that manage to make it corner with eerie flatness. The LR4 has no such enhancements and thus rolls like a ship in a storm. Mind you, not dangerously so, just enough to remind you that it’s a ‘real’ SUV with a high centre of gravity, not some tarted up crossover. All the hallmarks of the breed are here, from overly light steering to slightly soggy brakes so it’s best to employ a leisurely pace when cornering and accept that throwing the big girl about is not getting to get you anywhere. And, it has to be said, it still feels more nimble than a Land Cruiser, which is even more turn-resistant.

2012 Land Rover LR4

Off the beaten track…well, it’s a Land Rover, what else needs to be said? The Terrain Response System remains a miracle of intuitive design that takes away all of the confusion of offroading and makes everything idiot-proof. For instance, when I took it for a brief excusion into the sand, in any other car I would normally have to turn off traction control, lock the centre diffs and manually select a low gear. Not so in the LR4; simply twirl Terrain Response to ‘Sand’ and the car automatically does all of the above. Literally, all you have to do is deflate your tyres and start driving and the car’s electronic systems completely reconfigure to suit the conditions. You don’t even have to take it out of D!

2012 Land Rover LR4

Verdict

As a car for all seasons and all situations, the LR4 is very, very difficult to fault. It’s stylish, practical, well built and blessed with impeccable manners that make the Japanese competition seem like farm implements. Yes, the Land Cruiser is slightly cheaper now and has an even better V8 but drive them back to back and the difference in refinement is glaringly obvious (even if I think the big Toyota still has an edge in the really rough stuff).

2012 Land Rover LR4

Is the Pursuit Package worth the extra AED12,000? Not really – it doesn’t add any real offroad capability. But who cares? It blings up the car nicely and makes it look tough and for most, that’s all that matters. Even if you don’t opt for the Pursuit Package, you’re still getting one of the best SUVs out there. I can only hope the next LR4 is as good as this one.

2012 Land Rover LR4
Specs
Price: AED264k  (276k with Pursuit Package)
Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 375bhp @ 6500rpm, 376lb ft @ 3500pm
Performance: 0-100kph 7.5s, top speed NA
Transmission: Six-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight: 2653kg

 

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