Mike Humble :
Does it really seem that 45 years has passed since the most famous off all the luxury 4×4 vehicles first blinked its eyes in the Warwickshire sunlight of Solihull? It was born just a couple of years after the formation of the now historic British Leyland and certainly goes to show that not everything related to BL was below par. Originally just one model fitted with another world class product – the 3.5 litre V8, Range Rover has gone forwards in ever progressive leaps to become nothing more than the best regarded luxury vehicle on the Planet spawning a whole range of Rangies – quite literally.
Currently, Land Rover build three products under the Range Rover label but only one in the eyes of the brand purists is qualified be a true Range Rover perhaps. We were kindly loaned a Vogue SE with the 258bhp TDV6 diesel engine to see if the Lord of the lanes still retains the title: King of the hill when it comes to those all important areas of image, comfort and driver appeal. One thing that certainly becomes obvious upon first contact is the sheer bulk of the vehicle – especially when you stand looking at the grille. Its simply huge in every way and yet despite going through numerous reincarnations over the years still shares that bulk in the same way as an ocean liner – opulent and oozing style.
With a ticket asking £81,500 before you personalise it, the Vogue SE is neither cheap nor for the faint hearted. If you have never piloted a larger vehicle, the Range Rover can be quite intimidating for the inexperienced driver. Even gaining entry requires a little effort as you hoist yourself into the car, but once there, you’ll find it was all rather worth while. This is no ordinary car, this is an icon and true legend make no mistake and your senses are treated to the sight and smell of rich hand stitched leather, deep carpeting and piano black wood. I don’t think anyone will feel short changed at the look, feel, touch and smell of the current Range Rover interior – it really is a very special place to be.
The test vehicle came specified with over £11,000 YES £11,000 worth of optional extras that included self parking, a 17 speaker audio upgrade, rear seat entertainment, a massive panoramic roof and a wonderful list of other kit too extensive to mention, but even in off the peg mode still features more equipment than most of us would ever require in everyday motoring. You’ll find digital T.V, an automatic soft close feature on all doors and all audio and infotainment features operated via voice control. The level of technology on board is quite impressive but skilfully fitted and presented – all done… as the phrase goes… in the best possible taste. Its worth mentioning that the Satnav and infotainment works well but looks a bit dated nowadays.
The textures, shades and overall feel of quality is generally very good indeed although the test vehicle had a door trim that fouled the front wing every now and again. Sitting in the lofty cabin, it requires a few moment to acclimatise ones self to the huge array of buttons, knobs and twiddly bits but speaking purely on ergonomic terms, the layout of the cockpit works very well once just a little time is spent taking it all in. It goes without saying that all the seats are super snug, supportive, fantastic to the touch and feature both heating, cooling and adjustable armrests up front – its simply not possible to not get comfortable in the front of the Vogue SE.
There’s more than enough arm, head and legroom for everyone on board and beneath the centre front armrest there’s a decent sized fridge big enough for a few cans of fizzy drinks and complimentary nibbles for the passengers. Round the rear you have a pair of extra seats that pop up from the loadspace – electrically of course and the Range Rover features what the company calls three zone climate control. The tailgate remains a two piece item and opens and closes with no more effort requited than a press of the keyfob and gives access to a wide and flat cargo bay – despite the accent being unashamedly on the luxurious, it remains practical when required to be.
Out on the road the diesel Vogue is beautifully refined both inside and out. It drives astonishingly well thanks to keen performance, unnoticeable gear changes from the 8 speed ZF gearbox and brakes so powerful that it was impossible to induce and fade, smell or complaining noises. With a kerb weight a shake over 2 tonnes and being 6 foot tall, you cannot expect the handling to be of Mini Cooper levels of grip and control. And yet for as long as your drive within sensible parameters the Range Rover corners confidently with predictable body roll. Press on in a hurry and it still remains calm and composed in the corners but the lack of dynamic feel at the rim and a slight tendency to wallow on undulating back roads soon remind all on board that its not a sports car but feels controllable at all times.
Excellence comes in many areas with the Range Rover. The refinement, ride comfort and high speed motorway munching can be summed up in just two words – first class. Once you start adding up the areas in which the Vogue SE really does stand out as superb you soon begin to re-think your standing on the price tag. The way it makes you feel as you serenely sail down the High Street or tick off those miles on a never ending motorway is truly worth every penny and when all is said and done, the 3.0 SDV6 Range Rover will easily average well over 35mpg and emit a credible 182G/Km of Co2.
There really was very little to point, stare and tut at with the Range Rover apart from the previously mentioned quality matter. Thinking about it though, I did regard the adBlue filling point being so close to the air intake grille on the inner wing as being strange when it would seemingly be better placed within the fuel filler cap area. Also, there is too much random wiring and pipework on view – a common trait on current JLR products, it looks a little messy and does not reflect the premium nature of the car. That said, spend a little time behind the wheel or as a passenger and you’ll find that its worryingly easy to fall for the charms of the Range Rover. And after 45 years there is still no other luxury 4×4 that comes close to the image, heritage and charm of one of the worlds most respected brands – Land Rover.
AUTOBRITANNIA RATING: 9/10
The Humble Opinion:
Its still a damn fine machine after all the previous incarnations of 45 years. Nothing cruises like it, nothing else makes you feel so special and nothing else comes close so far as heritage and pedigree matters. And yet there is still a certain class-less appeal despite the asking price.
They’re driven with pleasure by her Majesty while at the same time admired and owned by those who really ought to be residing at her Majesties pleasure. As I have said before, its only when you spend a little time behind the leather and wood steering wheel that you fully understand why these cars are so world respected. At this level its all about the image you see and just a short spin into town makes you feel like a million Dollars – everytime.
Range Rover in my opinion is the finest car we build in the UK thanks to unparalleled refinement, very credible fuel economy, the perfect brand image, flawless good looks and also thanks to its marvellous hidden technology, amazingly capable well away from the black top. They look amazing on Bond Street and equally sublime under the command of a Bond villain… being British has possibly never been so cool.
The epitome of style and substance in my opinion.
Model Tested: Range Rover Vogue SE 3.0 TDV6
Produced by: Jaguar Land Rover Group in Solihull West Midlands.
Price: £81,850 OTR (excluding options)
Engine: DOHC 3.0 V6 twin turbo diesel
Power / Torque: 258bhp / 600Nm @ 2000rpm
Performance: 0-60 = 7.4 seconds* 130mph max*
Transmission: 8 speed electronic auto with paddle shift four wheel drive & Terrain response programme
Brakes: All round 350mm vented discs
Fuel Economy: 40.9mpg combined* (37.4mpg actual on test figure)
*Claimed Manufacturers or Government Data
THE HIGHS: Unquestionable heritage & image – Superb refinement – Strong performance – Good fuel economy – A textbook lesson in blending tradition with technology – Excellent off road capability – Makes the driver and occupants feel special – Motorway cruising is one of the very best experiences behind the wheel you’ll ever find – Spacious and practical – Well equipped.
THE LOWS: Expensive initial cost and periodic servicing prices – The sheer bulk makes Town or City parking require some forward planning – Under bonnet view is a bit messy and untidy – Not the most dignified to get in and out of – Sat nav and infotainment graphics / function needs modernising.
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