Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover - Vogue Autobiography
Land Rover models
Country club feel to the luxuriously appointed cabin, clever split-screen console, easy-to-use off-road programming, sweet V8 performance
Room for improvement
Resonance from the front tyres on coarse-chip surfaces, hard to find Bluetooth audio streaming connection, outdated mapping software
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1 May 2013
By BARRY PARK
Price and equipment
The old-shape Range Rover Vogue Autobiography’s list price fell to $231,800 before it disappeared from the market in January, shortly ahead of this new model’s arrival.
Entry to the elite club is now going to cost you at least $240,100 before on-road charges. Only Mercedes-Benz’s G55 AMG comes close in price, and poke.
Look what you get for that, though. The Vogue has gone through a radical redesign that loses some of the chiselled, tweed-lined comfort of the previous generation, and replaces it with a finely cut Zegna suit. Our Firenze Red test car with its Pimento-Ebony interior – highlighted with an extended red leather palette that added $1140 to the cost – and its blacked-out roof and glasshouse looked nothing short of stunning.
It carries it well, too, apart from the shark gills on the front doors that confuse the three-slash form of the last generation with something that looks like four stripes.
The standard equipment list is equally rich, too. Start outside, and the Vogue Autobiography sits on big 22-inch hoops clad in low-profile Continental CrossContact rubber. Inside them sit big, ventilated discs, with strong six-pot calipers to stop them.
A sweeping LED light display on the automatic headlights curls like a piece of Arabic script, farming the self-levelling bi-xenon headlights that also peer around corners, and dip the high beams automatically as another car approaches. LED tail lights, which reinstate the three-lined theme lost on the doors, fall down the slab-sided rear.
Other gear includes keyless entry and start, electric adjust heated and cooled massage front seats, heated electric adjust rear seats, four-zone climate control, video screens built into the front-seat headrests, the split front screen that blocks the driver from watching video or TV while on the move, a19-speaker audio with digital radio and a Bluetooth phone connection (plus a hard-to-find audio streaming function).
Also standard are front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter function, electric parking brake, a first-aid kit, wireless headphones for the front passenger and outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel, powered split tailgate, paddle shifters on the multifunction steering wheel, huge sunroof that extends well into the second row, and more.
It also gets a towbar as standard kit but owners need to buy the gooseneck and towball
A ring of cameras around the off-roader feed into the screen on the centre console, giving a 360-degree view. If you’re parking close to a kerb, just pick the image of that side of the Vogue, zoom in, and slip the car in with ease.
You’re also buying lightweight. The new Range Rover is made from aluminium, not steel. With aluminium costing about twice as much as the old way of stamping out the Rangie, the price could have been a lot higher.
Inside, the much cleaner look of the exterior carries over. Our option pack puts swathes of red leather everywhere the eyes and hands fall. In a now Jaguar-inspired signature, the gear shift has become a dial that rises from the centre console when you push the top-dog Vogue’s start button.
It’s an impeccably presented cabin. The infinitely adjustable captain’s chair will warm you and, with its countdown timer, can automatically ease the knots in your back shortly after your trip begins.
The dash in front of the driver houses a fully digital instrument cluster that carries over from the previous model, with the same line-up of functions as before that go as far as to show a side-on profile of the Rangie, although it’s silver, not red. The footwell, too, is a little cramped for such a big vehicle.
The middle of the dash houses the now-familiar split screen that can block the view of video to the driver, but allow the front-seat passenger to see it. The digital interface largely carries over from the previous Vogue, and disappointingly still uses the same blocky, monochromatic sat-nav display as before.
Surely with the sharper exterior styling, the mapping software could have done the same? Take a look in any high-end Mercedes-Benz if you want to know how well it can be done.
Storage space for small items is average at best, but the split glovebox in front of the passenger seat makes for a handy stash point if you can reach it. The door pockets are too small to take a drink bottle, so the only place for it is in the fridge – that’s no typo – hidden under the centre console lid.
The buttons on the dash are all still nice and big, optimised for gloved fingers just like they have always been.
The centre console also houses a 12-volt socket and a USB slot. It’s handy, but for the fact that the vertically challenged power socket means some plug designs won’t fit in it with the lid closed.
Rear-seat space is good, but not generous considering a lot of development work went into opening up room here.
The seats are wonderfully comfortable, though, and the outboard pair are easily adjustable, and temperature controlled to within anyone’s tastes.
The boot is big and tall, but a long way off the ground even when you get the Vogue to hunker down on its air suspension via a button to provide a better load height.
It’s a split tailgate, and after manually dropping the lower portion you can just push a button to raise the top part. The split tailgate still makes for an ideal picnic bench or seat – and is definitely a Range rover highlight.
There are a couple of switches mounted on the sidewalls of the boot. These enable you to electronically fold and tumble the rear seats to open up enough load space for a small pony.
One highlight of the Range Rover is its puddle lamps. Instead of just casting a light on the around around the car, they form a perfect circle with the words "Range Rover" spelt out.
Engine and transmission
This is where things suddenly get interesting. Under the aluminium bonnet of the new Vogue is the same old supercharged 5.0-litre V8 as before, pumping out a familiar-sounding 375kW just below its redline and 625Nm of torque from just off idle.
However, the old six-speed auto that used to sit behind it is out, replaced with an all-new eight-speed unit. As before, it is hooked up to a low-speed transfer case to suck the most from all that torque when the going gets tough.
At 2.3 tonnes, the heavily named Range Rover Vogue V8 SC Autobiography is no lightweight, and even with those big numbers progress from the big, direct-injected block – drinking premium unleaded fuel at the official combined rate of 13.8 litres per 100 kilometres – is stately rather than shrieking.
We lowballed Land Rover’s official figure, slipping in at a commendable 12.8L/100km after our week behind the wheel.
It is also a surprisingly muted engine. Even with a heavy foot on the throttle, the noise the engine generates never really intrudes, or even sounds like a V8. It’s all induction and no exhaust. Can’t wait for the Sport version, then.
The car-maker will also add a supercharged V6 engine to its line-up later this year.
The eight-speed auto is deliciously slurry, with almost imperceptible gearchanges. If you’re feeling frisky there is a sport setting on the perfectly machined gear selector ring, but with so many gears to rack up and down through the paddle shifters lose a bit of their appeal.
The theatre of selecting off-road functions has increased. You now push another dial that rises from the centre console, look outside the window, and match the view to one of five selectable pictures. To Land Rover’s credit, its simplicity is now much imitated.
Ride and handling
The big Rangie rides on air suspension similar to the model before it. It disguises the Vogue’s heft quite well, given what it is dealing with.
Normally when you perch a couple of tonnes of weight high up in the air, the laws of physics try and tell you its a silly idea once the first corner arrives and the centre of gravity swings like a pendulum to one side.
Land Rover has counteracted this with formula one-style suspension that pushes back to keep the luxury off-roader upright, flat and stable.
It works well, giving sportscar-like handling to something that shouldn’t even pretend to have any athletic ability. It is also good in terms of noise suppression, and in ride quality., However, over the bigger bumps in the road the Vogue’s suspension will struggle to recover, conveying light shudders into the cabin that, admittedly, are barely felt.
You’ll also notice the bulk under hard acceleration, where the weight transfer to the rear makes the Vogue feel a bit rolly-polly until things settle down.
One big disappointment, though, was the amount of noise generated from the 22-inch front wheels. At highway speeds, the tyres resonated over coarse-chip surfaces to produce a high-pitched whine and a constant vibration through the steering wheel.
You can drop down to 20-inch rims as a no-cost option, so we’d be asking to try the Vogue on those before committing to the bigger hoops, particularly if you’re going to use it as a comfortable grand tourer.
We didn’t take the Range Rover off-road, though, apart from playing around with a few settings in a table drain. It’s just too expensive.
Safety and servicing
The Range Rover has earned a top five-star safety rating from Australia’s independent crash test authority based on a left-hand-drive model. It’s a good result given that the smaller Evoque only earned a four-star score.
Safety runs to driver and passenger airbags, side curtain and thorax airbags – including the largest curtain airbag in production – and active front seat belts
Land Rover’s warranty covers the Vogue for three years or 100,000 kilometres. The small print is unclear over what happens if the vehicle happens to be off-road at the time of the claim. You do have the option of extending the warranty by two years and up to 200,000 kilometres.
Service intervals for the petrol engine are every 20,000km, 6000km less than that for the diesel engine.
Much of what the Range Rover Vogue is about is how it makes you feel. And boy does it make you feel good.
The new Vogue looks good, drives well, and we’re guessing that when it comes to it, will tackle any terrain that tries to block it, even as it comes straight off the showroom floor.
Those big wheels, though, appear to have crossed the boundary between function and form – at least here in Australia where our rough road surfaces torture European suspension tunes.
That said, if I had the money, I’d own one.
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG (From $216,730 before on-roads).
, Boxy, hard-sprung, utilitarian and looking like it comes straight out of the big, bad 1980s, Benz’s off-road bad boy sports a 5.5-litre supercharged V8 with side-mounted exhausts spitting out 373kW and 700Nm.
MAKE/MODEL: Range Rover Vogue V8 SC Autobiography
, ENGINE: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
, LAYOUT: Front-engined, four-wheel drive
, POWER: 375kW @ 6000-6500rpm
, TORQUE: 625Nm @ 2500-5500rpm
, TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic
, 0-100km/h: 5.4secs
, TOP SPEED: N/A
, FUEL: 13.8L/100km
, EMISSIONS: 322g/km CO2
, WEIGHT: 2330kg
, SUSPENSION: Air (f)/air (r)
, STEERING: Power-assisted rack and pinion
, BRAKES: Ventilated disc (f)/ventilated disc (r)
, PRICE: From $240,100 before on-roads
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