Upping the British Ante

2006 Land Rover Range Rover2006 Land Rover Range Rover: Head of the Class
When it comes to iconic designs and innovations from Britain, an S.U.V. called ?Range? is it. For 2006, Land Rover went for the T.K.O. by endowing the ?Range? with 400 charging horses. Yes! The Range Rover is now available supercharged.

The added horsepower is not the only improvement to the Range. First of all is the styling. Though the boxy shape is pretty much the same, the vehicle does get new lights, a four-bar grille and 19-inch wheels. The SC adds a mesh grille, side vents, and 20s. Aluminum skin is used on the front quarter panels, the doors and the hood. Inside, the cabin is a fantasyland. Neither the Escalade, Navigator, QX56 nor LX 470 can touch the refinement and amenities offered in the Range. Especially the 2006! I started my test in the backseat so I could catch The Incredibles playing on the headrest-mounted L.C.D. DVD screens (a $2,500 option). The only setback with L.C.D.?s in the headrests is that you have to adjust your eyes according to how far the front passenger or driver is leaning. No doubt, the driver?s seat is the best position.

The premium leather seats sit high; the heated wheel is firm; the foundry finish (a brushed aluminum look) gives the S.U.V. a tough appearance; and the accelerator pedal releases supercharged adrenaline. Then you have the touch-screen navigation, which can also be voice-operated.

A rearview camera captures reverse moves on the nav screen for safety. Range also gives you Sirius Satellite Radio and Bluetooth for hands-free communication via your Blackberry or Palm Treo.

The HSE is knocking at $74,950 while the supercharged Model retails for $89,950. If you can?t swallow the thought of mortgaging a vehicle, then try out the upcoming Range Rover Sport, which we test-drive next month. It adds more performance to the Rover brand and gives Land Rover a total of five models.

2005 Aston Martin DB9 2+2 Grand Tourer2005 Aston Martin DB9 2+2 Grand Tourer: The MasterCard Syndrome
Well-made and sophisticated, bathed in a romantic aura, the Aston Martin heritage dates back 90 years. Possessing a silky silhouette that shadows an aluminum structure, cinematic beauty and prodigious power, Aston Martins are iconic collectibles. We?re referencing modern-day sports car wizardry. The British ambassador is handcrafted from the company?s V.H. (Vertical/ Horizontal) architecture, which allows Aston to expand its product line. Aluminum is lightweight?up to 2.5 times stronger than steel?and absorbs crash energy well. It?s also rust resistant. Made to order, the DB9 is available in 21 exterior colors, 20 interior shades and offers distinctive wood (mahogany, walnut or bamboo) embedded within a cabin that?s as silky as a jump shot from Seattle?s Ray Allen. Additionally, the DB9 cuts down on carbs with the use of magnesium through out. Though Ford owns the royal sports car company, the DB9 is all Aston Martin. Aston Martin’s improved V12 for the DB9 knocks out 450 incredible horses with 420 lb.-ft.of torque available at an astounding 1,500 r.p.m.

The DB9 is so opulent in layout, you?ll be hard-pressed to believe its talent for ultra-performance. The Aston’s top speed is 186 m.p.h. and it runs 0-62 m.p.h. in under 4.9 seconds.??????????????????????

Aston Martin is selling a $172,295 ($155K base) lifestyle. And, like a Tag Heuer timepiece that narrows its wearer?s philosophy to prestige, performance, avant-garde technology and absolute reliability, the DB9 is it.???

Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythms and host of The Urban Automotive Experience. Visit www.AutomotiveRhythms.com.