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Range Rover Vogue on long-term test: is it still the pinnacle of luxury SUVs?

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 07/11/2018 Jeremy Taylor
a car parked in a field: Just the thing as autumn arrives in the Cotswolds © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited Just the thing as autumn arrives in the Cotswolds

Love them or hate them, there is no denying that large SUVs are here to stay. We decided to revisit the original luxury 4x4 to find out whether it merits its exalted status.

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Our Car: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue

List price when new: £79,595 OTR

Price as tested: £81,985

Official fuel economy: 40.9mpg

November 7, 2018

Fuel economy this week: 32.7mpg

a car parked in a field: Country pursuits: apart from a grassy field, the Range Rover hasn't been put to the test off-road - yet © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited Country pursuits: apart from a grassy field, the Range Rover hasn't been put to the test off-road - yet

It won’t be long before the Range Rover celebrates its 50th birthday in 2020, with the latest model more svelte than ever.

Yes, it is a whopper but with the all-aluminium monocoque body introduced in 2012, more than half a ton has been shaved off the weight. Forget whippet-like – the fourth generation model dwarfs the original – yet the Rangey feels much lighter than the sum of its parts.

Our 3.0-litre V6 diesel is the least powerful engine in the line-up, which includes a V8 diesel and three petrol engines. The new 2.0-litre PHEV 400e also cuts emissions, boosts fuel economy and reduces company car tax.

So you might think the V6 model is the least enjoyable to drive. It isn’t. There’s masses or torque, minimal engine noise and a genuine surge when required; 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds is remarkable for the size of car.

I imagined I would need the rotary transmission dial turned to ‘Sport’ most of the time, just to coax the Range Rover along. Not the case – the eight-speed automatic gearbox picks up smoothly from low revs and just keeps on going and going.

Air suspension is standard, so apart from the magic carpet ride the Range Rover stays flat and stable around a corner. My nerve would slip long before those 20-inch alloys started scrambling for grip.

And while you could rightly argue that executive rivals from Mercedes, Audi and BMW offer a more driver-focussed experience, the high seating position and go-anywhere ability of the Range Rover would make it a no-brainer - if I was lucky enough to have £80k to spend on such luxuries, of course.

I’m prepared to sacrifice a little driver involvement with the V6 because it is so exceptionally comfortable and capable in every other aspect. I find it hard to believe a car this size can perform the way it does – and I haven’t even taken it properly off-road yet.

October 31, 2018

Fuel economy this week: 33.2mpg

a close up of a device: The InControl app allows you to pre-heat the car, among other things © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited The InControl app allows you to pre-heat the car, among other things

My father was an early adopter of the school run in the 1960s.  During cold winters in the Forest of Dean, the day would start with the sound of cursing as he manually cranked the engine of an ancient Hillman Husky.

That car came with no heater or radio and absolutely nothing as exciting as a heated rear screen. The idea of a heated seat or steering wheel was pure science fiction – as likely as a man landing on the Moon.

So I wonder what he would have thought of the Land Rover InControl app, available with our Range Rover. He hardly mastered his brick-sized mobile phone, so a computerised programmer operated from a smartphone would have been an anathema.

The weather has turned cold this week so I’ve signed up to the app. Why? Because, once installed, I can pre-heat the Range Rover on my driveway to any temperature I like.

The app automatically starts the engine (doors still locked), will beep the horn and flash the lights if I’ve lost the car in a multi-storey – or even lock the car and shut the windows when I have a senior moment.

If you need to keep an eye on your mileage for expenses, every journey is logged in the system and, perhaps slightly more sinister, InControl also lets me keep a track on exactly where the car is travelling in real time.

a car parked in a parking lot: Now that colder mornings are here, ice-scraping is a thing of the past © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited Now that colder mornings are here, ice-scraping is a thing of the past

Of course, Land Rover isn’t the first to have an app but I don’t see the point in any tech feature unless it makes your life easier. Now I don’t have to stand on the driveway to scrape off the ice, or shiver on the journey to the station.

The Range Rover is loaded with neat kit like this that I’m still discovering. The dual-screen infotainment system is new for 2018 and will require further exploration but it does away with a rash of buttons and dials that once littered the dashboard.

It means the Range Rover almost matches Volvo or Tesla for a ‘clean’ dashboard that more resembles an iPad than a motor car. Like it or not, this is the way vehicle controls are heading so we’d better get used to it.

October 24, 2018

Fuel economy this week: 33.2mpg

a car parked in a grassy field: The Range Rover on the disused airfield at Davidstow, where it briefly became the country's most luxurious learner car © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited The Range Rover on the disused airfield at Davidstow, where it briefly became the country's most luxurious learner car

The original Range Rover was unveiled in 1970, when buyers were often invited along to the Solihull factory for a ceremonial handover. My former neighbour Tom, now deceased, would drive down from Scotland for a slap-up lunch with one of the British Leyland directors before accepting the keys.

On his second visit, Tom was asked what improvements he would make. It was pretty obvious. He suggested a four-door configuration instead of two, an automatic gearbox rather than the existing four-speed manual – and what about some carpets instead of those utilitarian rubber mats?

All these features eventually came to pass and Tom remained a Range Rover man right up until his death 12 years ago. There’s no doubt he would have been mightily impressed with our fourth-generation model, too.

Often regarded as the definitive SUV, the Range Rover still has that aura of ‘go-anywhere’ invincibility which comes from decades of service. It might be outclassed in some areas by a Bentley Bentayga, or outperformed (on the road at least) by the new Lamborghini Urus, but I’d still choose the Land Rover product to get me home.

Misplaced trust? Well, this week I’ve glided down to Cornwall in the Range Rover – just about the perfect car for high-speed motorway use. I’ve scrabbled up a farm track without any thought for adjusting my speed, and I’ve given a 17-year-old a lesson in the basics of car control on the disused airfield at Davidstow.

Almost half a ton lighter than the third-generation model – now looking very dated despite being only six years into retirement – this current version is more efficient, considerably better to drive and blessed with some exceptional engine choices.

I thought our entry-level, 258bhp TDV6 might be the tame option compared with the larger V8 diesel. However, I can honestly say I’m more than happy with the trade-off of a 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds and steadily improving fuel economy (33mpg from a vehicle this size is impressive). Refined and torquey are the key elements of this 3.0-litre diesel unit.

My heavy right foot has also been coaxed into a more relaxed mode, thanks to a luxurious cabin and air suspension. It feels like I’m travelling business rather than economy – although at £80,000 it’s an expensive upgrade.

October 16, 2018

Fuel economy this week: 31.3mpg

a car driving down a dirt road: Nothing shouts 'countryside' more than a Range Rover in the top specification © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited Nothing shouts 'countryside' more than a Range Rover in the top specification

Once upon a time, if you were part of the landed gentry, you drove a Range Rover. The rest of us owned a Freelander or possibly a chugging Discovery.

Things have moved on. Range Rover ownership starts at about £30,000 for the Evoque and morphs through myriad models to this, the “proper” Range Rover that has just joined our long-term fleet.

The full-fat version is now in its fourth incarnation and still regarded as the pinnacle of luxury SUVs. Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce have fashioned expensive rivals but the Range Rover has lost none of its cachet.

Even populating the brand with new models such as the Velar, Sport and Evoque hasn’t dented the desirability of the biggest Range Rover of them all. It’s one of the best luxury cars money can buy.

Our entry level TDV6 version is powered by a 258hp diesel engine which, I’ve already discovered, is more than just adequate. 0-60mph is dispatched in 7.5 seconds and the official fuel economy now tops 40mpg (although I doubt we will achieve anywhere near that).

If you demand more diesel grunt, the cheapest 4.4-litre V8 is another £17,000 – roughly the same as the all-new, super-economical P400e petrol-electric PHEV version. The crazy 5.0-litre V8 petrol starts at £117,000 and is something of a dinosaur in the new, environmentally-friendly Land Rover fleet.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is now standard on the Rangey, with a raft of adaptive driving aids for every type of  condition on and off the road. These include the now ubiquitous Hill Descent Control and modes for snow, rock or whatever gruelling terrain you can find in the Cotswolds.

My farmer neighbour says a Range Rover should only be available in green but the Corris Grey of this example is a still a head-turner. Land Rover has fitted 21-inch gloss black wheels (£535) and a Black Pack (£950) to the exterior trim to add a little bling. 

Those will dent my credibility at the countryside store but I’m prepared to take the flak. I’m keeping very quiet about the heated steering wheel though - it is still the best invention since cupholders.

Related: Top hybrid SUVs to buy [AutoCar]


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