Range Rover review
The Range Rover takes the fight to Bentley and Rolls, as well as Mercedes and Audi, with peerless off-road ability and superb refinement
Land Rover has set its sights high with the all-new Range Rover, citing Bentley and Rolls-Royce among its rivals. Thankfully, the new Rangie’s price tag hasn’t risen to those levels, but the interior quality, comfort and refinement have. This car is easily a match for the best BMW, Mercedes and Audi have to offer, even if the back seats still aren’t the easiest to get into. Although it’s 27mm longer than the car it replaces, it’s also a whopping 420kg lighter thanks to extensive use of aluminium. This means lower emissions and higher mpg, as well as better handling – in fact, the new Range Rover is more nimble than ever. Land Rover has confirmed it will be building a plug-in hybrid version of its big 4x4 but that I won’t arrive on UK roads until after 2015. The technology has already been trialled with the prototype Jaguar XJ_e PHV, which uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, a 94bhp electric motor and a 12.3kWh lithium-ion battery for an average fuel consumption figure of 73.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 75g/km.
Our choice: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE
This is the second car to adopt Land Rover’s new design language, as debuted on the hugely popular Range Rover Evoque, but it’s still unmistakably a Range Rover. The boxy profile and vertical side vents remain, along with the clamshell bonnet, floating roof and split rear tailgate, but the narrow, swept-back headlights, less upright grille and sportier windscreen angle are all recognisable from the Evoque. The new car is slightly longer and wider than the outgoing car, but three striking gills on the front doors help to disguise its bulk, while LED running lights and wraparound taillamps give it a slicker look. On the inside, the number of buttons and switches has been halved, which makes the cabin look cleaner and less cluttered. There’s tonnes of scope for personalisation, too, with a choice of 17 interior colour themes, three veneer choices, three headlining colours and a choice of seat colours too. The exterior can be specified with a contrasting roof, 37 different paints for the body, a choice of three colours for the side vents and eight alloy wheel designs. Entry-level Vogue cars come with 20-inch alloy wheels, a DAB radio, digital TV, sat-nav and an automatic tailgate, parking system and wipers, while Vogue SE trim adds adaptive cruise control, a dual-view screen and soft door close. Range-topping Autobiography cars also get a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel and even bigger alloys. Buyers also have the option of an Executive Class pack, which adds two luxurious massage seats in the rear, split by a wooden centre console.
Thanks to the extensive use aluminium for the body and saving more than 400kg in the process, the 3.0-litre TDV6 matches the old 4.4-litre V8 diesel for performance. For its size, the Range Rover is one quick car, especially if you opt for the V8 diesel or supercharged petrol. The V6 is our pick of the range, though, as it feels lighter on its feet with a truly sublime ride and top-notch refinement. It might not have the sheer grunt of the V8s, but it’s certainly quick enough. The eight-speed automatic kicks down smoothly and provides manual control via the steering wheel paddles, too. A new Dynamic Response system has helped to reduce body roll in corners, and there’s only the slightest hint of lean - not bad for a car that weighs two tonnes. Then there’s the Range Rover’s off-road ability. The latest Terrain Response system will work manually or automatically, while an increased wading depth means it can tackle the most severe of off-road terrains.
Thanks to a long list of hi-tech safety kit and its extra-strong aluminium shell, the new Range Rover has a full five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP. It received 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, as well as a score of 86 per cent in the safety assist category. Every Range Rover comes with a full suite of airbags, ESP, ABS and seatbelt reminders fitted as standard, as well as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and trailer stability control. However, Land Rover doesn’t have quite so strong a reputation when it comes to reliability. It came 20th out of 30 in the 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It was voted second worst for running costs and fourth worst for handling, but fared much better in other categories – it was rated the second best of the bunch for practicality and fourth best for ride quality. In fact, the Freelander 2 finished 26th in the Top 100, while the Range Rover Sport finished in 30th place with overall ratings of 86.5 and 86.37 per cent, which suggests things are improving. The new Range Rover should continue this trend, as it has more tech than ever, but less complex electricals. It’s also built in a very different way, which is one of the biggest factors in reliability.
Not many luxury cars can better the Range Rover when it comes to practicality. Its 909-litre boot increases to a massive 2,360-litre load area when you fold the rear seats, which you can do at the touch of a button. The split tailgate means access is great. If you leave the lower part in place, there’s less of a lean to get stuff in or out, while the bottom bit is a handy perch at social events, too. As you’d expect these days, the whole tailgate operation is now powered. And that’s before you take into account its off-road and towing skills. An intelligent, second-generation Terrain Response system is standard across the range, but comes with an auto function on Vogue SE cars and above. It’s brilliant and works by constantly monitoring surface conditions and the car to make sure it’s in the correct setting. The longer wheelbase means there’s enough space in the back to carry three adults in comfort, while the air-suspension can be lowered to make the Rangie easier to get into – although it’s never going to be as easy getting in the back of a Range Rover as it is getting into the back of a Mercedes S-Class or Audi A8.
One of the biggest problems with the old Range Rover was its economy, but Land Rover has worked hard to improve this. By shedding more than 400kg, the new car not only feels better, it’s much more efficient, too. The entry-level 3.0 TDV6 has an average fuel consumption figure of 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 196g/km, which is hugely impressive for a car that still weighs two tonnes. Economy for the 4.4 SDV8 has also improved dramatically, with official figures set at 32.5mpg and 229g/km. The range-topping 5.0 V8 S/C is less impressive, though, as it can still only manage 20.5mpg and emits a massive 322g/km of CO2. Although its starting price has risen considerably (it now costs more than £70,000), the new Range Rover is expected to retain more than 60 per cent of its value after three years. Plus, equipment levels are more generous than for rival luxury cars like the long-wheelbase Audi A8.