2013 RANGE ROVER REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Luxury SUV
Price: $178,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 190kW/600Nm 3.0 litre diesel V6 | 8-speed auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.5 l/100km | tested: 10.2 l/100km
Superlatives abound. Pleasantries and compliments flow. Such is the effect that a car like the all-new Range Rover has on people.
It’s a car that’s literally fit for the Queen, but can traverse the Canning Stock Route without breaking a sweat.
The shape is new, but it’s unmistakable. Thanks to all-aluminium construction it has shed the equivalent of four TMR writers, uses less fuel, is more capable off-road and has more space.
So far it’s ticking all the right boxes. But no car is perfect, right? Well, that’s what we set out to investigate. The result may surprise you.
Quality: Somehow Land Rover has managed to improve the Vogue’s quality. Again.
The last generation wasn’t exactly spartan, but the L405 Range Rover is now right up there with Bentley and Rolls-Royce. No kidding.
The Oxford leather is smooth and soft (and is just about everywhere), there’s real metal accents, proper wood veneers and minimal - but high grade - plastic.
The interior is simpler and clearer - there are less buttons than ever before.
The rotary gear selector rises from a solid metal panel to nestle in your palm, the Terrain Response selector disappears with a press and the wood-laden cupholder cover slides with oily precision into a recess in the dash.
Every surface you touch, every button you press, the solid feel of the doors shutting – it’s just “right”.
Comfort: With Range Rover’s 'command' driving position and 18-way electrically adjustable seats (including variable bolsters), there’ll be no complaints.
Obviously there’s tonnes of room up front, but having liberated an extra 118mm in legroom for rear passengers (thanks to the new platform), the Vogue is now more limo-like than ever.
A button on the dash selects seat controls from which you can choose seat heating or cooling, as well as three-mode ‘massagers’. (After a hard day in the trench, trundling home with your own personal masseuse is certainly a perk.)
The back seats are electrically adjustable (four-way) to either avail more space for passengers, or more space for luggage. You can also opt for the Executive Class seating package which gives you two rear buckets to further cosset your cargo.
Comfortable? It’s like a seven-star hotel on wheels – and then some.
Equipment: While there’s a stack of options on offer, the Vogue (which is one step up from the HSE) comes comprehensively stocked.
Three-zone climate control, touch-screen infotainment, keyless entry and start, soft-close power latched doors, powered upper and lower tailgates, Meridian 380W sound system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, electric seats all-round – it’s all there.
Perhaps the best feature is the gorgeous full-colour TFT instrument screen. It displays on- and off-road settings, speedo, tacho, and can shift the “dials” around to include extra displays.
But if you have the money to spend there’s even more: such as an electrically-deployable towbar, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, illuminated tread-plates, configurable mood lighting, surround cameras, radar-based cruise control, digital radio, rear seat entertainment package and more. Much more, actually.
Storage: For front seat passengers, there are two gloveboxes, each controlled by an up-down release button.
Under the leather-padded armrest is a deep cubby-hole (which can be a cooler box for a nominal fee), 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.
Then there’s the boot. As standard it’s a huge 909 litres. Drop the back seats down and it grows to a whopping 2030 litres. Yeah, you’re not going to have a problem with storage.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Press the ‘start’ button on the dash and the diesel V6 instantly settles into a muted growl.
From inside, there’s no way of knowing it’s a diesel. Under load there’s a soft-edged thrum that points to compression-ignition; and then there’s the torque – buckets of it, the signature of diesel power – that makes its presence felt while accelerating.
With a whopping 600Nm of grunt on offer from 2000rpm, and a silky-smooth eight-speed ZF ‘box choosing ratios flawlessly, that meaty belt of torque is available at any speed.
It’ll go from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds, which is not to be sneezed at. But with stop-start (and those eight forward ratios) it uses less fuel than a Commodore.
There are shift paddles on the wheel, but they’re best left for when off road. The steering is light and accurate, yet offers unexpected feedback.
And if you’re going to be towing, there’s a 3500kg braked-limit on offer.
Put simply, it drives beautifully.
Refinement: The Range Rover’s cabin is immersed in sound deadening, which combined with the double-layered glass makes it virtually silent.
It is effortless on a long drive, and is surely the benchmark for how refined a diesel passenger car can be.
Suspension: With air suspension on all four corners, the Range Rover can lift from a 220mm ride-height to almost 300mm when off-road. Then, if it detects itself being grounded, extends a further 35mm. And if the driver calls for it, an extra 35mm again.
From its lowest mode (‘Access Height’) to its highest, it can lift by 195mm to give a ride height of 365mm.
Staggeringly, despite that versatility, it offers a ride which is close to equalling an $855,000 Phantom.
Braking: The front ventilated discs are 380mm while the rears employ 365mm ventilated rotors. It’ll haul up quicker than you dare without fading after repeated punishment. Comforting to know when you’re hauling up 2160kg of metallic beast.
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
Lexus LX 570 ($140,400): While it’s a lot cheaper, the Lexus is hampered by its LandCruiser origins. Sure it has some fruit, but its ride is too firm and lumpy and the engine chews through fuel. It really is outclassed by the Rangie. (See Lexus reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The new Range Rover is quite simply in a league of its own. As a passenger car, it is brilliant: comfortable, quiet, spacious and swift, few cars offer such ‘substance’ and satisfaction at the wheel.
But that’s just part of its capability. Point it off-road, and it will carry you places far, far off the beaten track.
With one of the best drive experiences this side of half-a-million you’d buy in for its on-road prowess alone. But throw in the style, luxury, quality and off-road ability and you’re talking one of the best packages on sale today.
The perfect car? Five stars? At this point in time, it’s a close as you’re going to get.