by Brad Leach - 18/02/13
Is the all-new Range Rover the world’s best luxury SUV? We think so. It’s the best Range Rover so far so it’s hard to mount an opposing argument.
In cricket terms, here’s a few warm-up deliveries: the world’s first SUV with a weight-saving all-aluminium monocoque body structure (part of the story behind a 350kgs - yes that’s right 350kgs – weight reduction over the previous model); that lighter weight means the supercharged V8 is 9 per-cent more fuel efficient and the new V6 turbo diesel is 22 per-cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing V8 turbo-diesel; 3,500kgs towing capacity; stunning full digital instruments; even more interior luxury; enhanced off-road ability. Here’s the thing: Range Rover only does premium SUVs - it’s all they think about – so you can imagine the pressure that brings in delivering only the fourth generation all-new model.
Well they’ve undoubtedly succeeded. Sure we’ve got a few minor quibbles, but nevertheless we have no hesitation in giving the all-new Range Rover Car Showroom’s highest accolade – our 4.5 star rating.
Launch of the previous Range Rover saw Car Showroom at the international media launch in Scotland and this time around we were top of the list in Australia to secure a test car – the new 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel in ‘Vogue’ model grade.
Priced at $178,900, the Vogue is the range-topper of the entry-level TDV6 Range Rover lineup (sitting on top of the $168,900 HSE variant).
Our test car was loaded with $9,210 worth of extras – a sliding panoramic glass roof, dual-view touch screen, park assist system, the Santorini contrast roof, 20-inch Style 3 alloy wheels, solar glass, a cooler compartment in the centre console and load space rails and crossbeam. As well, our car ran glorious ‘Grand Black’ 12-piece veneer inside (a no cost option).
In fact the TDV6 is a significant addition to the all-new Range Rover lineup. The lighter weight of the all-new model enabled Range Rover to scrap the previous V8 turbo-diesel as the V6 has more than enough performance and of course comes with significantly reduced fuel consumption.
Debut of the all-new fourth generation range Rover sees the first application of the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel powerplant. Also available is a supercharged 4.4-litre V8 diesel and of course the glorious supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, while in the pipeline is a diesel-hybrid powertrain.
This is a Range Rover so there’s no surprise the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel is staggeringly quiet and refined as it delivers 190kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 600Nm from 2000rpm via Range Rover’s eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is rapid – zero to 100km/h in just 7.9 seconds.
But the major advance is fuel consumption – aided by auto start-stop, combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.5l/100kms. So the Range Rover TDV6 is 22 per-cent more efficient than the outgoing V8 turbo-diesel and actually matches the similar V6 turbo-diesel BMW xDrive 40d.
Climb inside and there’s the expected Range Rover ‘command’ seating position (demanded by Rangie buyers) but electronically adjust the seat to its lowest setting and the all-new model adopts a surprisingly sporty feel behind the wheel. And that all-new steering wheel is a sophisticated piece of kit – leather-wrapped naturally and while not quite Formula 1, we counted 13 buttons on the spokes for various functions like audio and cruise control and all an ergonomic triumph.
Overall, the interior, while distinctly Range Rover, is thoroughly modern – a cleaner layout with 50 per-cent fewer switches and sophisticated LED ambient lighting. There’s a choice of 17 colour themes, three headliner colours and three veneers (with more to come) and as expected, Range Rover has improved the material quality even further – twin-needle stitching for the seat leather, soft wrapped finish for the door trim and instrument panel and superb detail for the metal highlights.
As usual there’s the hallmark Range Rover broad centre console (with the optional cooler compartment in our test car), containing the off-road setting buttons and the automatically-raising gear-selector dial. Our test car also had the dual-view touch screen for navigation and the Meridian audio system.
The dashboard adopts a horizontal layout with a raised instrument binnacle featuring full digital instrumentation (we liked the nice ‘overlapped’ look for the speedometer and set cruise control speed).
Second row passengers enjoy more legroom than in the superseded Range Rover and you can opt for ‘Executive Class Seating’ with two individual, reclining seats.
And luggage space is massive – 909-litres with the rear seat back or 1,290-litres with the seat slid forward. The twin power tailgate is a neat touch with both the large upper and smaller lower components individually electronically controlled.
“Designing the next generation Range Rover, following over 40 years of success, came with a huge responsibility to protect the DNA of such an icon,” explained Range Rover design director Gerry McGovern. And one look tells you the fourth generation model is a Range Rover, but the new look is both clean and bold.
Measuring 4,999mm in length, the all-new Range Rover affords a footprint virtually identical to its predecessor – that means it’s large. Pleasingly when lowered in ‘access’ mode, the newcomer sits 20mm lower.
At the front, the deep grille and headlights are a departure from previous generations as are the rounded corners and more steeply sloping A-pillar. But the new bonnet adopts the hallmark ‘clamshell’ look and the high, floating roof theme (enhanced by near-flush window glass) continues.
An unusual twist for the side with the front extractor vents shifting to the doors, while enhanced aerodynamics are obvious at the rear with a distinct taper unlike previous geometric Range Rover designs.
The rear is again a complex and sophisticated look but the usual ‘stacked’ rear lights are there (this time LEDs).
As expected, the all-new Range Rover comes bursting with technology – highlighted by the latest ‘Terrain Response 2’ drive mode system which includes Roll Stability Control (RSC). Underneath is new aluminium suspension with adaptive dampers and air springs providing 260mm of front travel and a massive 310mm at the rear (most rivals have less than 200mm).
The all-wheel-drive system with a bevel gear centre differential is normally split 50/50.
So how does it all shape-up on the road? Well, brilliant actually.
Yes, there’s the expected Range Rover refinement with very little transfer of mechanical noise or outside traffic noise inside. And yes, even the TDV6 model we tested delivered strong acceleration.
But the all-new Range Rover is really transformed in the twisty stuff. Cornering is altogether crisper and flatter with small movements of the steering wheel delivering precise turn-in even on tight turns.
We reckon the Mercedes-Benz ML delivers the best driving dynamics in this league but make no mistake the all-new Rangie looms as a rival for the German’s precision and sportiness…and that’s no small achievement for a 5.0-meter long, 2,160kgs premium SUV.
But there are limitations – adaptive cruise control is there, but there’s no lane-keeping assistance and the blind-spot monitor is an option. And in CBD car parks and shopping malls, Range Rover’s 12.7-metre turning circle takes some management.
Throttle modulation in the TDV6 is very light – a rush of acceleration unless you’re sensitive with application of your right foot.
This is the one for full-size premium SUVs. Yes, it’s a lot of coin, but by any measure Range Rover has delivered a stunning vehicle.
You could fill a book with the Range Rover’s technology - even the extensive use of aluminium required Range Rover to build a new state-of-the-art aluminium manufacturing facility at its plant in Solihull, UK. But it all boils down to a full-size premium SUV which has no peers.
The latest Mercedes-Benz ML is a Car Showroom favourite and represents ‘Benz at its finest. Luxurious, refined and naturally sharp on-road, even the bigger ML doesn’t match the Rangie for size (you’ll need the GL for that) but the top-of-the-range ML 63 AMG is a relative bargain at $177,400.
BMW X6 takes premium SUVs in a sporty direction but still doesn’t match the Range Rover for interior and luggage space.
Count Comments to "2013 Range Rover Vogue TDV6 Review and First Drive"