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New Range Rover SDV8 2019 review

While not our pick of the range, the Range Rover SDV8 offers a fantastic combination of luxury, performance, economy and space

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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While it’s not our pick of the range, it’s hard to find fault with the Range Rover SDV8. It’s gutsy, refined and super-luxurious; the big diesel engine suits the car’s relaxed personality. If you regularly cover big miles but want the ultimate in 4x4 ability, little else comes close.

Here's the dilemma: You need to cover 500 miles this Christmas period – in one hit, without stopping. You also want to do it in unrivalled luxury, with all the toys and room for five adults. They’ll be bringing a boot-full of luggage and gifts for all the family, too. 

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There’s only one answer, really – and that’s a Range Rover. But while a Supercharged petrol SUV might sound like the ideal long distance companion, its mammoth thirst will see you pulling over for fuel all too often. You need a diesel – a 334bhp/740Nm V8 diesel, in fact.

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This engine is a great fit for the Range Rover, which was facelifted late last year with fresh styling and new interior tech. The whopping great 4.4-litre V8 is a strong performer, pulling the car’s 2,570kg kerbweight with ease. Put your foot down and the nose will raise to the sky, catapulting the SUV from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds.

It’s incredibly refined, too. On the motorway it glides effortlessly, and would happily sit at almost double the motorway speed limit if the laws allowed. It’s infinitely more tuneful than the similarly priced P400e plug-in hybrid, as well, with a proper bassy growl under full throttle. It can’t match that car’s ability to waft silently in all-electric mode, but under light loads the V8 remains hushed. 

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But at exactly five metres long and almost two metres tall, the Range Rover is a big car. In its standard damper settings the SDV8 wallows through the bends and rolls from side to side – but switch things round to Dynamic and it hunkers down and attacks corners with surprising aplomb.

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This is true of every Range Rover, however. The question of whether this engine will suit your needs comes down to the type of driving you do. For most, the V6 diesel will do the job; it doesn’t feel significantly slower than the V8, and will be almost as quiet on the move. The Supercharged petrol car will find favour with those looking for pure performance, while buyers who spend most of their time in town are better set with the P400e.

All things considered, then, the Range Rover SDV8 can be filed in the ‘nice to have’ rather than the ‘pick of the range’ box. It sits in a bit of a no man’s land between the entry models and the flagship versions, offering a curious blend of performance versus running costs. 

Not that it’s particularly frugal. Land Rover’s claimed 33.6mpg isn’t all that realistic; on a mixed test route of more than 400 miles we managed closer to 25mpg. The colossal 86-litre fuel tank offers an impressive range, but CO2 emissions of 219g/km put it in the very top Benefit in Kind company car tax band.

Of course, the V8 diesel is available in all the same trim and spec combinations as other models in the range. You can buy an SDV8 in Vogue, Vogue SE or Autobiography guise, with all cars getting at least 20-inch wheels, Matrix LED lights, keyless entry and a Meridian stereo. Upgrade to our range topper and you’ll benefit from a sliding panoramic roof, four-zone climate control and a surround camera system.

Inside, whichever version you go for, the Range Rover continues to feel like a truly premium product. There is acres of space and swathes of wood, metal and high-gloss plastics. The commanding driving position is unrivalled by near enough any car on the road, and while the infotainment system isn’t as slick as BMW’s or Audi’s current set-up, it is now available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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