Range Rover review
The Range Rover takes the fight to the S-Class and Audi A8 after being crowned the Best Luxury Car of 2013 at the Auto Express awards
The Range Rover is our Best Luxury Car of 2013 thanks to its great mixture of supreme comfort, top-notch interior quality throughout and a highly desirable upmarket image. Yet it’s the SUV’s multi-tasking ability that really sets it apart from the crowd. It’s just as comfortable cruising down the motorway as it is crawling along muddy off-road tracks. Surprisingly agile handling, impressive refinement and strong performance complete this all-rounder’s list of talents – and make it a strong rival for the newly launched Mercedes S-Class.
The latest model has borrowed some styling cues from the smart Range Rover Evoque to keep its look up-to-date, and its cabin is as sumptuous as top-of-the-range offerings from Audi or BMW. Comfort, quality and refinement have all risen to limousine-like levels, although some can find it tricky to get into the rear seats. The newcomer is 27mm longer than the previous Range Rover, but also 420kg lighter due to extensive use of aluminium in its construction. Benefits of this included better fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions, as well as more nimble handling. For now, there's a choice of powerful petrol and diesel engines, however Land Rover says a Range Rover hybrid will arrive in 2015, combining a small turbocharged petrol engine with a 94bhp electric motor to deliver barely believable fuel economy and emissions figures.
Our choice: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE
If you want to make a strong statement with your choice of luxury car, nothing shouts indulgence quite like the imposing Range Rover. Yet while its sheer size attracts attention, there’s more to this modern style icon than its towering dimensions. Sleek gills on the front doors and those dynamic wraparound tail-lights help disguise its bulk, while Land Rover’s designers have cleverly managed to create a contemporary looking SUV without abandoning the classic Range Rover cues. The clamshell bonnet, ‘floating’ roof and split tailgate are all present, plus the swept-back headlights and sharply angled front grille and windscreen take their cues from the brand’s fashionable Evoque. Plenty of people will prefer the less ostentatious Mercedes S-Class or Audi A8, but there’s no denying the Range Rover’s car park kudos. The clean, uncluttered interior makes a strong impression, too.
The Range Rover Vogue is the 'entry-level' model, but it's very well equipped, with 20-inch alloys, digital TV and radio, sat-nav plus an automatically opening tailgate and self-parking system fitted as standard. Vogue SE is the next version up, adding cruise control, a dual-view screen and soft door closing to the equipment list. The Range Rover Autobiography tops the range and features a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel and larger alloys. Buyers can also specify the Executive Class pack, which includes rear massage seats divided by a wooden centre console.
Mighty off-road ability and considerable towing power allow the Range Rover to do things other luxury cars can’t. But it’s the big 4x4’s refinement, performance and driver engagement on tarmac that count here. Fortunately, Land Rover set out to ensure that its range-topping SUV ranked among the best luxury vehicles in the world from the start, and it worked long and hard to make the new Range Rover lighter than its predecessor. The resulting 420kg weight loss means the new 258bhp 3.0-litre TDV6 model easily matches the old 4.4-litre V8 diesel version’s performance – and uses less fuel doing so. Even so, it was slower than its two German saloon rivals at the track, while on the road, no amount of weight-saving can disguise the fact that the Range Rover is more than two metres wide and nearly three metres tall. However, it’s a testament to the work of Land Rover’s engineers that it’s still great to drive. For starters, it’s impressively quiet and refined inside, while the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox contributes to a relaxed driving experience. The standard adaptive damping and air-suspension deliver an impressively composed ride, which is only upset when the large wheels thump into a badly uneven road surface. On top of that,the steering is accurate and well weighted, plus you can add optional Active Lean Control anti-roll bars to further tighten body control.
In the past, Range Rovers have been known to suffer from poor reliability. And while Land Rover has been working hard on its products’ durability, it still finished in a disappointing 25th place in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey and was placed last for reliability. At least its franchised dealer network fared better, ranking 15th out of 31 brands. Plus, the TDV6 Autobiography model that’s currently on the Auto Express fleet has run faultlessly so far. The Range Rover comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty for peace of mind, too.
With a light yet strong aluminium shell and an extensive list of hi-tech active safety kit, the new Range Rover easily scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Adult occupant protection was rated at 91 per cent, while it received a score of 86 per cent for safety assist. Protection equipment includes a full set of airbags, ABS, ESP, seatbelt reminders, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and trailer stability control.
Ever since the very first Range Rover was launched in 1973, the car’s rugged usability and practicality has been a big selling point over more traditional luxury models. With all seats in place, the current version can hold 909 litres of luggage – 399 litres more than either the A8 or S-Class – while folding them at the touch of a button frees up a vast 2,360 litres. The classic Range Rover twin tailgate allows you to open one or both parts as needed: leaving the bottom half in place makes it easy to pop smaller items straight into the boot, while lowering it gives you a useful temporary seating area. The Range Rover is also a highly capable tow car and a mighty off-roader, but while its wheelbase is longer than ever before and rear passenger comfort is good, it still doesn’t offer the limousine-like space you get in the back of its long-wheelbase saloon rivals in this test. At least the air-suspension can be used to lower the body and make it easier to get in – although it's still not quite as effortless a BMW 7-Series or Audi A8. A space-saver spare wheel comes as standard, while a full-size replacement is a £200 option. Choosing the electronically deployable towbar will cost you £200, too.
Poor fuel economy was always a major drawback of the previous Range Rover, so Land Rover has put considerable effort into making the latest model considerably cleaner and more efficient than before. The weight reduction is a key element of this, combined with the frugal 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. Claimed fuel economy is 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions come in under the 200g/km mark – both of which are very impressive figures for a two-tonne luxury SUV. The range-topping Autobiography model costs nearly £90,000, but the mid-level Vogue car is much more reasonable, being about £20,000 less. Its 61.8 per cent residual values easily outweigh any price premium: owners will lose over £10,000 less in depreciation than an Audi A8 buyer over three years. But with CO2 emissions of 196g/km, the Range Rover still sits 10 tax brackets higher than the Mercedes S350, so it will cost top-band earners an extra £3,342 a year in tax. It’s also more expensive to service than its German saloon rivals, and you’ll have to shell out £260 for a tax disc every 12 months.