2013 RANGE ROVER REVIEW | Photos: Jan Glovac
Vehicle Style: Five-door luxury SUV
Price: $217,100 (plus on-roads), $225,290 (as tested, plus onroads)
Engine/trans: 250kW/700Nm 4.4 litre turbodiesel V8 | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.7 l/100km | tested: 13.8 l/100km
If you view it as a luxury car only (and nothing else), the Range Rover Vogue can hold its own against uber-premium limousines costing two or even three times as much.
But its reason for being is not just 'luxury transport'. It also has a formidable reputation as an off-road machine.
This, of course, means that the new Range Rover has a lot to live up to.
So, rather than just heading to a dusty track somewhere, we decided that it needed to show us all of what it’s made of.
After all, this isn’t just an SUV which shudders at kerb-hopping. It has a V8 under the bonnet; it has low range, and it has height adjustable suspension.
Sand, mud, water, rocks – why not try all of it? Yep, that’s exactly what we did.
Quality: Simply put, there’s no off-road machine which can hold a candle to the Rangie’s build or quality of materials. Everything about it is perfection.
From the beautifully grained leather, through to the metal finishes and even the plastics, the material selection and build quality is superb.
Comfort: Is it possible for a Vogue to be uncomfortable? We think not.
Its combination of masses of room for passengers and supersoft seats means that, like the SDV6, it’s a glorious way to travel. With all its semi-aniline leather seats electrically adjusted, heated and cooled, you’ll want for little.
Equipment: The Vogue SE climbs one rung above the Vogue and comes with a stack of included features.
On top of the Vogue (which itself is not lacking), the SE offers hydrophobic (eeek!) front windows, privacy glass for the rear windows, adaptive Xenon headlights which dip automatically, and 21-inch wheels.
To this add winged headrests all round, colour-changeable mood lighting, illuminated tread-plates, surround camera system, a cracking 825W Meridian sound system, dual-view touchscreen with wireless headphones and a sliding panoramic sunroof.
Storage: Front seat passengers get two gloveboxes. Under the leather-padded armrest is a deep cubby-hole (which for $580 can become a cooler box), cupholders on the centre console, flip-out panels on the doors (almost holster-shaped) and deep and long door bins.
Rear passengers get cupholders, big door spaces and massive seat pockets.
The boot is 909 litres and with the back seats down it grows to 2030 litres. That should be enough for most.
ON THE ROAD
On and Off The Road
The plan was to head into the hills to our test track, giving us the opportunity to explore its high speed behaviour on the highway before we got into the rough stuff.
Of course, having a twin-turbo diesel V8 at your disposal means there’s plenty of mumbo for overtaking. On the long climb up Greenmount Hill on the face of the Darling Scarp (in the Darling Range North East of Perth), the Vogue SE's turbo diesel simply swallowed it without effort.
You can thank its 700Nm for that.
With an eight-speed auto backing it up, the wave of torque never seems to falter, no matter what speed you’re travelling.
As with any Range Rover, the steering is light and buttery-smooth and the suspension’s Dynamic Response system sees it handle even better than the V6-powered Vogue.
Sure, it’s no tarmac terrier, but its agility for a 2.5-tonne barge will astound you. Yet, despite that agility, it rides like it’s on a permanent opulent cushion.
At the national limit, the Vogue can eat up highway miles; but that wasn’t our focus for the day. We’re concerned with its raison d'être.
A small gravel road led to our destination. First port of call was to deflate the tyres to 20psi; enough give to avoid punctures when traversing the sharp rocky outcrops, yet enough pressure to prevent the tyres rolling off the 21-inch rims.
Sure, these wheels are not meant for this kind of driving, but Range Rover can make it work, can’t it?
We left the Terrain Response in auto mode to test whether it could sense the grip levels and switch automatically to the right setting when over sand, or slippery mud or even the flint-like surface ahead.
As it detected the slope and the articulation starting to increase, the auto setting was smart enough to request a change to low range. It also directed a change in suspension height.
From there we started on some of the chunky stuff.
Of course, with so much suspension movement available, unless the boulders are the size of a fitball (ask your PA what it is), the Range Rover lopes across the surface, wheels in the air, ESC clicking underneath with each re-adjustment to the grip.
Getting into mud, we found that auto mode doesn’t respond quite as it should to change traction settings to suit. No problem, just dial up Mud Ruts mode manually, and the Vogue’s transformation is remarkable.
Then, the traction control allows for more slip (especially when you’re heading uphill). In auto mode it lurches as it battles against the ESC.
In Mud Ruts mode, it brakes against slip but lets go a lot quicker, inching forward without losing ground.
While the auto setting is good for 80 percent of off-roading, it’s when you’re up against it that the ultimate control of the Terrain Response dial becomes apparent.
So let’s put it into perspective.
To be able to head off into whatever trail takes your fancy is one thing, but doing it in absolute luxury is quite something else.
Crossing the Simpson Desert in your dinner jacket is not just a wish, but a distinct possibility in this car.
What really blew us away is how on road tyres it could get completely caked in mud yet still put its finger on enough grip to trundle through.
And then, with effectively bald tyres (mud dries pretty hard on a hot day) still crawl up rocky trails immediately afterward.
If you get yourself grounded, it will allow an “Extended Height Mode” which provides an extra 35mm of clearance over its off-road height. Its suspension movement means there’s little that can stop this car.
From the the rock crawl, a churn through sand and gravel completed the course. Oh yes, and a good water-hole bath afterward.
Impressed? More like gob-smacked.
Was there a negative? Well, your correspondent here managed to get a flat tyre right at the end of the day during that water crossing – it’s best to check the bottom for submerged obstacles before going through.
Not the car’s fault, and thankfully the Rangie has a full-sized spare.
It’s even informs you that the tyre has lost pressure while sitting in the boot hollow. Clever.
Refinement: Like the SDV6, the Vogue SE’s cabin is surrounded by sound deadening but that V8 rumble still finds its way through, which is no bad thing.
It’s perhaps a bit more growly than the V6 model, however its refined diesel doesn’t clatter or vibrate the cabin.
Suspension: The V8 model’s air-suspension features Dynamic Response which cuts body roll in hard cornering. Combined with the 21-inch wheels its ride is a touch firmer than the smaller wheeled models, but is still far superior to any other SUV available here.
Braking: The front ventilated discs are 380mm while the rears employ 365mm ventilated rotors. Pedal response and feel is excellent.
ANCAP rating: 5-Star.
Safety features: Eight airbags envelop the passenger space. Terrain Response will automatically choose the safest setting for the most grip. Of course, there’s the usual ABS, traction control, ESP and braking assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km with roadside assistance. Customers can opt for Land Rover Assured Extended Warranty Insurance for 12 or 24 months, with up to 200,000 Kms covered, as well as mechanical failure off road..
Service costs: Service intervals are set at 26,000km for diesel variants. Costs vary according to driving conditions, so consult your local Land Rover dealer.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Range Rover Vogue SDV6 ($178,900) – The only real competitor here is its V6 sibling. With identical off-road ability and tow rating, the only area in which the TDV8 is better is extra torque, less body roll in corners and a few more interior niceties.
Does that warrant the extra cost? (see Range Rover reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The fact that we were able to return from the trip with almost no mud in the car is testament to how capable the Range Rover is.
Apart from taking photos, the only time we had to hop out was at the start when letting the tyres down, and at the end when we pumped them back up again. Oh yes, and that wheel change.
So, no question, it’s still the king off road. It’s still impeccably built and it’s still a wonderful piece of engineering.
But with the SDV6 diesel offering so much ability for nearly $40K less, you have to question whether the SDV8 version is worth the extra dough.
The Vogue TDV6 scored our highest mark – five stars – but on value-for-money, the SDV8 just misses out.
Us? We’d have the V6 in a heartbeat and pocket the change. Either way, you know you’ll never get stuck.