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Mon 25 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Minimalist success

CEO Middle East takes the new Land Rover LR2 out for a spin and finds that exteriors can be deceiving.

CEO Middle East takes the new Land Rover LR2 out for a spin and finds that exteriors can be deceiving.

The 2008 LR2 is Land Rover's "city-fied" version of the LR3 and Range Rover.

A slightly more compact, easier to manoeuvre in and out of traffic and lower lying SUV.

From the outside there is nothing particularly breath-taking or innovative; the grills and chrome shine and the lines are sleek but the whole ensemble fails to draw attention to itself - if anything the lower body makes it slightly indistinguishable from its contemporaries.

Inside the car is more spacious than it appears from the exterior, with stadium-seating to give the rear passengers a better viewpoint and plenty of room up front.

The boot is not particularly large compared to competitor models however, and you would be hard pressed to fit both passengers and a large load of bulky shopping in at the same time.

The dash is not overcrowded with buttons and settings and there aren't gimmicks that leap out at you.

In sum, there is nothing about the car that would make it stand out from anything other than your run-of-the-mill SUV - and yet it does.

This is one of the most enjoyable, safest and comfortable drives that I have had in a long time.

The car feels tough; Land Rover's heritage of outdoor ruggedness makes you feel safe, despite not towering over other drivers.

The materials used in the outside design are also satisfyingly chunky; the unibody one-piece build means bits won't come off, the parts that are prone to being scratched are made of reinforced polymers and the roll cage and all encompassing airbags mean that you would be amply protected in any collision short of being hit by a freight train.

THE ONE HOUR DRIVEFirst impressions: a little smaller than I was expecting, but looks pretty luxurious. Nothing special.

Driving experience: it almost drives itself! The seats were very comfortable and the dash and various settings were easy to get to grips with.

The engine actually has more power than you would suspect and you can get the power to overtake easily.

You also don't feel bad about throwing the car around off-road as it feels easily sturdy enough to handle pretty much anything - although it was a little slippery at high speed on sand.

Very easy to park and move around, and can hold its own in city driving situations.

Conclusion & score: 8.5 - A real goer, I'm thinking about getting one myself after this.

Daniel Canty is the editor of Oil & Gas Middle East magazine.

The bi-xenon headlamps with automatic sensors, front and rear park proximity sensors further enhance that feeling.

The drive is comfortable and the car is much easier to manoeuvre than its Freelander predecessor.

The interior has top end leather seats and paddings, wood panelling and Alpine speaker units.

The LR2 also has a breakthrough Terrain Response system which works as a ‘wheel' set just up from the gear stick.

The system has four settings; General Driving, which also works on easy off-road situations; Grass/Gravel/Snow for slippery conditions; Mud and Ruts for more hilly terrains; and Desert, for sandy drives.

Each setting, activated by a turn of the wheel, changes the various engine, transmission, chassis, traction control and torque to adapt the car instantly to suit the conditions.

The 6-speed automatic transmission also slides easily into Sport mode to allow for longer in lower gears for more power and control and then into manual mode if needed.

The gearbox also features Dynamic Stability Control and Hill Descent Control buttons; offering one of the easiest, and most effective, off-road experiences for city drivers.

In terms of extras; the dashboard is minimalist perfection.

Most of the space is taken up by the stereo unit and independent airconditioning settings, the GPS screen sits nicely in the centre console, the keyless ignition is a charm and the seats have the usual electric positioning settings as standard.

An added extra touch is the automatic sideview mirror adjustment when reversing.


The LR2 comes together perfectly to provide the perfect drive for city use and weekend off-roading.

The engine is powerful enough to give that extra boost for overtaking and you'll enjoy every minute of the cruise.


0-100 kph: 200km/h

HP: 230

ME price: from US$36,000

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