Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2013 Range Rover Vogue.
There are few cars on the planet as epic as the all-new Range Rover.
With a 43-year tradition of building the world’s most luxurious and capable SUV’s, the latest incarnation of the Range Rover remains true to the original formula, while resetting and raising the standards.
Range Rover’s have always been prohibitively expensive in this country and the latest edition isn’t any different.
As tested, the mid-range Range Rover Vogue SE kicks off at $180,646 before on roads, so unless you’re the child of a tycoon or have just had a mega lottery win, the big Rangie is likely to remain in a fairly exclusive club.
The new, all aluminum Range Rover is almost 400kg lighter than the model it replaces, although at 2360kg, you could hardly call it a lightweight.
The diet the Range Rover has been put on however has resulted in breathtaking acceleration and staggering fuel economy.
If it’s not already obvious, I have to declare I’m a fan. The new Range Rover is the most handsome yet, it has a real presence on the road, authoritative without being aggressive, imposing without being intimidating.
It also looks bigger than it feels with some clever styling moves such as moving the ubiquitous gills from the front quarter panel to the front doors, resulting in a longer looking bonnet.
Styling is understated and elegant, and function dominates form.
Opulence & indulgence is the order of the day inside. Every surface is covered in either the highest grade double stitched leather, brushed aluminum, high gloss timber veneers or deep, plush carpets.
The famous “command” driving position lets you know you’re driving a Range Rover and still leaves you feeling like royalty, particularly in the ultra supportive, heated & ventilated seats.
The instrument panel is a completely digital affair and is as logical & functional as it is beautiful. Complemented by a busy 8-inch central screen, most of the physical switchgear is all but eliminated with climate controls, vehicle & driving settings and audio/visual controls (including the various cameras around the car) managed by the touch screen.
As found in its Jaguar cousins, the gear selector is a rotary dial that rises from the console, with a smaller rotary dial just below it to operate the 4 wheel drive system.
The Meridian sound system is better than most home systems. Standard in the Vogue SE is a DAB+ digital radio receiver, digital & analogue TV tuner, DVD/CD player, Bluetooth music streaming and USB ports.
You’ll find screens in the rear controlled by a touch screen embedded in the central pull down console, and with separate headphones it’s possible for the kids to be watching a DVD in the back, while your front seat passenger can watch TV in the front while you’re driving, thanks to the clever front screen that blocks the driver seeing the picture.
On the road the Range Rover is more capable than ever.
Older Range Rovers always had an uncomfortable amount of body roll. In the 2013 model however, it is staggering in its absence. The damping control & suspension set up is simply brilliant with the Range Rover sitting almost flat through corners, regardless of the aggression of the steering input.
The suspension will also raise & lower the vehicle to suit your on & off road needs and includes a button on the drivers door (above the electric window controls) that has the Range Rover sit down nice & low for easy entry & exit.
The steering is fairly light and doesn’t provide a huge amount of feedback, but is lightning fast in its response times and utterly predictable.
The ride is sublime. Speed humps feel more like small potholes and any cabin disruption is only provoked by the most severe road conditions. Further insulating you from the outside world are double glazed windows and noise suppression that is only rivaled by Rolls Royce’s & Bentley’s.
In fact the only thing you hear in the cabin is a primal V8 rumble that sounds like anything but a diesel, it’s addictive, and that addictive rumble has substance to it; 250kw and a locomotive like 700Nm from a 4.4 V8 Turbo Diesel that can propel the Range Rover to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds.
Regardless of where you are in the rev range, the big V8 is effortless in its delivery of the power. The most staggering aspect to it is the economy. After a week of city driving the Range Rover drank 11.1 litres per 100km, incredible for a nearly two and a half tonne vehicle.
The economy is aided by the almost imperceptible 8-Speed automatic with a sport function that can be controlled by a pair of disappointing, flimsy plastic flappy paddles behind the steering wheel.
With all that torque, you can pull your 3.5 tonne braked horse float with ease while tackling any mountain overpass you’d care to have a crack at.
The off road capabilities didn’t get much of a work out in my time with the Range Rover, but the hill descent control was intuitive and easy to use, and rutted gravel tracks didn’t have the big Brit batting an eyelid.
Genuine competitors to the Range Rover are hard to find.
There are plenty of luxury SUV’s, very few however have any off road capabilities and those that do are rather agricultural.
Then there are the big limousines like the 7 Series BMW, S Class Mercedes Benz or the Jaguar XJ although apart from similar price tags and exclusivity, none offer the flexibility of the Range Rover.
The Range Rover is unrivaled in its off road abilities, on road manners and sheer luxury. The only thing wrong with it is the price tag.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 4.4 litre V8 turbo diesel developing 250kW and 700Nm
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Safety: Not tested
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: From $180,646.
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Land Rover L405 Range Rover.