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Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover - Vogue/Sport wagons

Our Opinion

We like
Muscular midrange torque delivery, instant off-idle response, well-matched six-speed auto, Commodore-like fuel consumption, improved noise and refinement levels, reduced bodyroll, fitment of Terrain Response (Vogue), V8 engine note
Room for improvement
Price rises over TD6 (Vogue) and outgoing petrol V8 (Sport), huge TDV8 weight penalty, expensive options list, no TDV8 badging

15 May 2007

FOR a relatively modest V8 displacement of 3.6 litres, Land Rover’s first eight-cylinder turbo-diesel certainly packs a punch.

Even in the confusingly named, 2.7-tonne Range Rover Vogue (let’s just call it the Range Rover, which was its title for more than 40 years, before the Discovery-based Range Rover Sport came along) there’s enough urge to see the hulking British-built SUV leap away from a standing start with instant, satisfying vigour.

Which is a surprise, not just because it makes both the old TD6 and the 4.4-litre Jaguar V8-engined Rangie seems somewhat pedestrian in comparison, but because the brisk traffic-light getaway follows an almost imperceptible engine note at idle, and on the over-run during engine braking.

In the midrange, where just a hint of that characteristic diesel clatter is replaced by an unmistakable V8 growl, there’s a wave of hairy-chested torque that makes overtaking as simple as a prod of the right foot, and provides the kind of uphill corner exits that petrol V8 sedan drivers are accustomed to.

Unlike a petrol V8, however, the show’s all over at 4100rpm (alas, there’s no redline on the tacho), when the ever-ready and velvety-smooth six-speed ZF auto changes up with surprising speed to start the intoxicatingly rewarding process over again.

No, there’s no hiding the upgraded Rangie’s sheer size and bulk, but a firmer suspension tune (from the more frenetic Supercharged flagship) reduces bodyroll substantially during changes of direction, and requires less anticipation to drive smoothly both in traffic and on twisting bitumen.

It also moves the monocoque-bodied Range Rover one step closer to the on-road dynamics offered by BMW’s class-leading X5, which is lighter, more nimble and less prone to shaking the heads of its lower-seated occupants.

However, a reasonably testing off-road loop, which demonstrated the worth of Land Rover's clever Terrain Response system now also fitted to the Vogue, reminded us that nothing this side of a Toyota LandCruiser is as capable off the beaten track. It also confirs that Range Rover does indeed offer a wider breadth of ability than any other luxury SUV.

A new fuel filler neck that prevents the TDV8’s tank being filled with petrol is another feather in the 2007 Rangie’s cap, but unfortunately it’s not fitted to the Sport.

Combine the more user-friendly handling and the unmitigated V8 diesel grunt with a combined average fuel consumption of just 11.3L/100km (we saw a maximum of 13.5L/100km during heavy off-road work and 9.5L/100km after a highway run back into Sydney) and it’s clear a small price rise to $140,900 is well worth the advantage of the Rangie TDV8’s considerable talents.

Similarly, with the same engine powering the sharper handling, 40kg lighter Range Rover Sport TDV8 (which is still a whole 220kg heavier than the TDV6, 195kg heavier than the petrol V8 and 103kg heavier than the Supercharged), there seems little reason to buy the identically priced but much thirstier petrol and only slightly quicker petrol V8.

Interior 2007 Range Rover revisions are hard to pick, though the upper glovebox is a welcome addition – as are new options like adaptive cruise control, side steps that deploy when the doors are opened and the rear seat DVD system (standard on Vogue TDV8 Luxury and Supercharged).

Apart from the Vogue’s BMW-developed underpinnings, the banishment of the BMW diesel from its engine bay puts Range Rover one step closer to again being British through and through. More upmarket than its confusingly named Sport sibling, the Vogue remains a demonstration off just how good one vehicle can be, both on road and off.

Given it offers the same number of seats, handles more crisply on the road and will go everywhere the Vogue does off it (and is probably less inclined to suffer irreparable damage when it does so because of its body-on-chassis design), it’s easy to see why the far cheaper Range Rover Sport has been such a big hit for Land Rover.

Throw a cracking new twin-turbo diesel V8 into the mix for $107,900 (more than $10,000 less than the new X5 4.8i V8), and the Range Rover Sport’s popularity will only increase.

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