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Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover - Vogue SDV8

Our Opinion

We like
Sumptuous cabin, refinement, hardcore off-road credentials, improved handling and braking, supple ride, liquid-smooth V8 diesel with eight-speed auto, road presence
Room for improvement
No standard adaptive cruise control, legroom not quite limo-like, Bluetooth system needed re-syncing several times, finicky electric tailgate, more expensive than before

Gallery

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Land Rover logo19 Feb 2013

Price and equipment

HERE we test the SDV8 4.4 turbo V8 diesel Vogue SE, priced from $217,100 plus on-road costs.

Our version came with almost $6000 worth of extra-cost options including park assist ($1100), reverse traffic detection with blind-spot warning ($1000), a heated wood and leather steering wheel ($980), 21-inch alloy wheels ($810), digital radio ($730), console fridge ($540) and load-space rails ($540).

Pricing across the line-up ranges from $168,900 for the all-new TDV6 HSE to $240,100 for the supercharged petrol V8 Autobiography.

The SDV8 on test is the larger of the two diesel options, and the Vogue specification is second from the top below the Autobiography.

Naturally, the list of standard features is long, although the lack of standard adaptive cruise control is an oversight, especially considering the $76,000 Jeep Grand SRT8 offers it as standard.

Among the more eye-catching features are adjustable air suspension, 18-way adjustable heated and cooled seats, winged headrests with integrated digital television screens, panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, a virtual instrument cluster, an 825-watt Meridian surround sound system and a dual-view eight-inch touchscreen.

Also included are and acoustic laminated heated windscreen, laminated ‘hydrophobic’ privacy glass, a surround-view camera, electric tailgate and rear seat adjustment, soft-close doors, an active speed limiter (though without adaptive cruise, which is shamefully $3240 extra), voice control and xenon lights with high-beam assist.

Our version came with aluminium tread-plates, cream leather dash inserts with black semi-Aniline leather seats (soft as butter, we found) and no-cost-option Grand Black Lacquer Veneer inserts, giving the fascia and transmission tunnel a more modern touch.

Various headlining colours, walnut inserts and different-coloured leather are available for a bespoke touch.

Among the more sexy options are a 1700W 29-speaker sound system ($7790), four-zone climate control ($2110) and massaging front seats ($880).

Premium metallic paint costs $1780, although a regular metallic such as our version’s Santorini Black is free of charge.

Interior

At 4999mm long, the new model is only 27mm longer than the previous version, and the roofline is 20mm lower. But, despite the lack of expansion, better packaging and a longer 2922mm wheelbase yield improved rear legroom (although it still feels shy of a typical large sedan).

And it’s from this rear seat where the ‘limo’ part of the Range Rover’s credentials are put to the test – provided you remember to lower the air suspension before attempting to climb in.

The pair of digital televisions in the rear headrests and the supple electrically adjustable rear seats make this one hell of a place to pass the miles, although if you’re more than 190cm like your correspondent it’s still too cramped for such a behemoth of a car. And, really, this car is easily big enough to accommodate a third row of seats – even as an option.

The company claims to have raised material quality to “a new level”, and on close inspection it’s hard to disagree.

Naturally, soft leather padding abounds. Only the cheap placard on the transmission tunnel mars the feeling of upmarket quality.

A host of small touches give the car an almost theatrical quality, from the party trick dial that modifies the ride height to the backlit Range Rover logo under the side mirrors that projects the famous badge onto the inky tarmac at night.

Ridiculous, yes, but it’s all of a theme.

The sound system is as symphonic as you’d hope, and the seat heating and cooling system is the best we’ve sampled. That’s to say nothing about the cushy seats, with adjustable headrests so soft they should be illegal.

Behind the rear seats is a decent 909 litres of storage space and – reflecting the Rangie’s hardcore abilities off the beaten path – a full-size spare wheel.

A temperamental two-piece electric tailgate makes access tougher than it needs to be, though. On several occasions ours baulked at an imaginary obstacle. Thankfully, there’s a manual override.

Also, the navigation system looks basic and can be hard to operate, and the Bluetooth streaming system de-paired our phone on several occasions.

Engine and transmission

The reworked 4.4-litre V8 turbo-diesel under the hood produces a suitably impressive 250kW of power and 700Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000pm.

The eight-speed automatic transmission makes an excellent partner and is configured to keep the big oiler right in the sweet spot of the rev range as often as possible. The surplus of ratios, torque and sound deadening make this an effortless cruiser.

The transmission also has a sporting S mode that holds onto a lower gear, but overt revving really doesn’t suit this car’s style. Forget the paddle shifters, too just leave it in D and relax.

More impressive is the sharp response – not much lag here – and the understated but still rumbling exhaust note. It’s enough to make the whopping 3500kg towing capacity seem a modest claim.

Land Rover claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.9 seconds – a full second faster than before – while offering combined fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100km (down from 9.4L/100km).

That acceleration tallies with our figures, although our average fuel consumption over a week of mixed city and rural driving yielded 13.0L/100km – still not bad for a V8 SUV that tips the scales at 2360 kilograms.

Massive 380mm front and 365mm rear brake discs make the lighter Range Rover stop just as fast as it goes.

Ride and handling

Slashing almost half a tonne from the kerb weight of any car is hardly going to hurt a car’s dynamics, but the progression of the new Rangie Rover from the old is particularly marked.

Gone is the head-shake of the previous model – rather than wallowing as before, the new Range Rover feels planted and composed, with less bodyroll and understeer only appearing when pushed. It’s still not as agile as a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6, but why would it be?

Furthermore, the electric steering offers an unusual amount of weight, feel and feedback, with a welcome lack of artificiality and disconnectedness.

The ride is plush and road noise is kept to a minimum, although the familiar breeze-block styling – though sleeker than before – still leads to some unwelcome wind noise around the A-pillars.

But ‘sharp and refined’ is the norm for a luxury SUV in this day and age – it’s off the beaten path where the Range Rover really rises up and contemptuously dusts the rivals from its flanks.

By all accounts, the new-generation model retains the off-road ability as its accomplished predecessor, thanks to redesigned air suspension and a revised dial-operated Terrain Response system with five settings to tackle mud, sand or rock-hopping.

The clean-sheet independent suspension redesign features heavy use of aluminium and offers class-leading wheel travel (260mm front and 310mm rear) and an extra 17mm of ground clearance (up to 303mm), giving the car a wading depth of up to 900mm (200mm more than before).

The permanent four-wheel-drive system, which splits engine torque 50:50 between the front and rear and offers a low-range setting, carries over from the old model.

It frankly seemed almost a shame to get our midnight-black example down and dirty, but a sojourn through the mud, dust and hills of regional Victoria proved next to no challenge for the Rangie.

Granted, we steered clear of hardcore rock-hopping and water crossings, but as footage from the car’s reveal in Morocco last year showed, very few surfaces seem beyond this car. Indeed, it is this juxtaposition between luxury and brutality that sums up the Range Rover’s appeal.

Safety and servicing

Naturally, the Range Rover scored the maximum five Euro NCAP stars.

Apart from the obvious ABS and ESP, it comes with roll stability control, trailer stability assist, blind-spot monitoring and hill-descent control. Adaptive cruise is an obvious omission from the list of standard features.

Driver and passenger front, side, seat-front, thorax and pelvis airbags are standard fitment.

Service intervals are quite long at 12 months or 26,000km – whichever comes first – and the car is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty.

Verdict

Two thumbs up, Range Rover.

Under the same-again styling is a much sharper, faster and more luxurious beast, a car that makes its occupants feel like the royal family and can take them safely to (and through) the deepest, darkest wilderness.

Aside from the dated navigation, overly sensitive electric tailgate and that pricetag, there’s not much to dislike.

It’s also worth noting that Land Rover’s new Indian owner, Tata, has pledged to keep the research and development dollars flowing, so we expect to see such strides forward become common for the iconic British-based brand.

Rivals

Porsche Cayenne: Priced between $109,400 and $247,600 plus ORCs. Smaller and far more road-focused than the Range Rover, the Cayenne is nevertheless a price-point rival (at least in the upper echelons). Brilliant handling that belies its size and shape.

Mercedes GL-Class: Priced between $132,500 and $174,600 plus ORCs. Potent engines, spacious cabin and plenty of features make this huge Benz a formidable contender. However, it’s heavy, cumbersome and lacks the Range Rover’s off-road credentials.

Lexus LX570: Priced from $140,400 plus ORCs.

Based on the Toyota LandCruiser, the LX is therefore at least as tough and nearly as capable as the Range Rover in the rough stuff. Refined and luxurious, but also thirsty for fuel and poorly packaged.

Specs

Make and model: Range Rover Vogue SDV8
, Engine type: 4.4-litre turbo-diesel V8
, Layout: Longitudinal engine, front-mounted, four-wheel drive
, Power: 250kW at 3500rpm
, Torque: 700Nm between 1700 and 3000rpm
, Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
, 0-100km: 6.9s
, Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km combined cycle
, Dimensions: 4999mm long, 2220mm wide, 1835mm high and 2922mm wheelbase
, Weight: 2360kg
, Suspension: Adaptive air suspension.

Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
, Steering: Electric
, Price: $217,100 plus on-road costs

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