Range Rover V8 Vogue 2004 review

Image is everything at the top end of the SUV market, and few cars have better credentials than the Range Rover.

Detail changes enhance the already well specified Range Rover, and the touch screen makes controlling the extensive options easy. The 4x4 interface and Venture Cam allow owners to exploit the off-road ability, although few will do so. It may be costly to buy and run, but not many rivals can match this SUV's ability and image.

Image is everything at the top end of the SUV market, and few cars have better credentials than the Range Rover. A combination of off-road ability, a luxury cabin and elegant looks have made it the premium 4x4 of choice - for footballers and their wives!

And the latest 2005 model carries a number of upgrades to maintain its reputation. Inside, all variants now get a touch screen in the centre of the dashboard, which controls the audio, TV and satellite-navigation systems.

There's also mobile phone integration, whereby compatible units can be operated via buttons on the steering wheel. Bluetooth mobiles connect automatically to the Rangie's systems via satellite. In addition, all models are fitted with a Harman/Kardon stereo, while the flagship Vogue is equipped with a Logic surround sound system.

The Range Rover's off-road performance is already class-leading, but the 2005 version offers even more. One of the menus on the touch screen gives access to a 4x4 driver interface - this provides a graphic display of the car, and allows the driver to monitor gearbox settings and the angles at which each individual wheel is tilting in tough conditions. It also warns when the vehicle reaches its limits off the tarmac.

Electronics Another optional extra is Venture Cam - a brand new idea that takes advantage of the complex electronics. A rechargeable camera is linked wirelessly to the touch screen, transmitting images instantly from up to 20 metres away, and allowing the driver to keep an eye on the car's progress from the outside over rough terrain.

Externally, the Range Rover is unchanged, but ths is one of the SUV's major strengths - the current model borrowed many styling elements from the original Range Rover of 1970, but with a modern twist. It still looks fresh today, and when driving through town this giant continues to turn heads.

But this machine's sheer size is its major downfall. At nearly five metres in length, and tipping the scales at almost 2.5 tonnes, it can make getting around trying. In dense traffic, the driver has a superb view of the road ahead, but you need to plan well in advance to avoid getting stuck in gaps too small to accommodate the SUV. Parking can also be a problem - although the standard air-suspension set-up does at least enable you to lower the ride height to get into multi-storey car parks.

Otherwise, the Range Rover driving experience is fantastic. The steering is finger-light at low speeds, yet the power assistance is reduced the faster you go to improve feel and stability. Even on the motorway, it is secure and relaxing to drive. The 4.4 V8 is powerful, and works well with the five-speed automatic box. A prod of the throttle is all that's required to surge forward.

The downside to this effortless performance is thirst - the V8 returns only 17mpg if driven with care. However, if you can afford to buy this car new, then fuel bills might not be an issue.

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