Rover TDV8 3.6 Autobiography
so they say, begins at forty.
It certainly does for the iconic Range
Rover, which still reigns supreme
after forty years...
THE RANGE ROVER was first launched in its all-wheel drive, three-door form forty
years ago, the current incarnation came to market in 2001 and it has constantly
evolved since then into the world's top premium 4x4 and the chosen transport
of the rich and famous.
'New money' younger customers and professional footballers mainly opt for the
more dashing Range Rover Sport versions but 'old money' customers who appreciate
'class' retain their love affair with the taller and status-portraying Range
Rover with its limousine specification interior and ride comfort. And the secret
to the on-going success of the Range Rover is that its luxury appointments don't
make the five-door, five-seat iconic 4x4 any less accomplished when the going
gets tough off or on road.
The new 2010 Range Rover line-up now includes the top-notch Autobiography specification
level in addition to the well-know Vogue and Vogue SE variants. There are three
engine options: the all-new 5.0-litre V8, 375bhp/376lb ft petrol unit; the new
supercharged version of that engine with 510bhp/461lb ft and the main selling
3.6-litre, twin-turbo V8 diesel unit with 271bhp of power and 472lb ft of torque.
All use a six-speed automatic transmission with full-time four-wheel drive with
locking differentials, different terrain mode selection and a high/low-ratio
Prices range from £66,095 to £81,725. Plus options. My test model, the 3.6 V8
twin-turbo diesel with the Autobiography specification would cost £77,335. Fitted
options active rear differential lock, DVD twin screen rear seat entertainment
system, the Vision Assist Pack of rear/side cameras, four-zone air conditioning
and the tyre pressure monitoring system added a further £5,138.
The Range Rover might still be a 4x4 but it is also a genuine alternative to
a luxury saloon. It is just as likely to be seen in the UK carrying the rich
and important around the streets of power in London as it will be on the country
estates of Great Britain or any of the Arab States or in Russia, China or the
US. For these and other markets there are armoured versions as well.
With its impeccable leather, wood and high quality interior finishings, electrically-adjustable
front and rear seats and limousine-style instrumentation, you might think the
latest Range Rover has gone 'soft'. Well it has but only as far as the
electronically-operated air suspension which now gives magic carpet ride-comfort
and can be raised or lowered as required. But when the going gets tough, the
vehicle has lost none of its ability to deal with the worst of off-road driving
it's scrawling over rocks, clawing its way through axle deep mud, climbing up
sand dunes or fording rivers, the Range Rover still has the tools to be the
best in the world at doing these things. Its sophisticated all-wheel drive system
makes light work of most situations and, thankfully, the selection of these
various modes is intuitive and easy due to a logical central control unit with
mode diagrams and simple buttons to further tailor the right driving mode. I
just wish other manufacturers made their hi-tech 4x4s so logical to use.
to buy and
run, its also huge in
every way: image, comfort, limousine
interior, quality and
worst driving conditions I could throw at the Range Rover were the recent deep
snow and treacherous ice followed by the severely potholed tracks that were
once our roads. The traction is huge in the slippery stuff, the handling floats
along but is predictable and the big wheels, wide tyres and air suspension just
ironed out the bumps and potholes. The steering remains light and remote and
the body does roll during fast cornering but never in a way to cause alarm.
Its limousine ride is to be enjoyed, as too is its 4x4 ability and sumptuous
The twin-turboed 3.6-litre V8 diesel engine pushes out 271bhp, the least of
all three engines on offer, but it is the huge torque output of 472lb ft from
2,000rpm that makes this vehicle feel punchy and responsive with a surge of
instant 'grunt' whenever needed. Alternatively, it will happily trundle along
at more or less tickover speed in heavy traffic, off road or in deep snow. The
diesel unit is remarkably quiet as well. The six-speed automatic gearbox is
a joy to use with this engine and like everything else about this very large
vehicle that makes driving so easy.
Top speed is 124mph and 0-62mph takes 9.2 seconds, so
despite its weight and size it's no slouch. As for fuel economy it will officially
average 25.4mpg in the combined cycle. During my testing time the vehicle arrived
with a low 22.1mpg showing on the computer and after some motorway cruising
at 70mph with a light throttle, this went up to 33.2mpg. Overall after a week's
motoring in snow, ice, mud, potholes and town and country travel, the final
average figure was 27.9mpg still better than the official figure.
Not so impressive is the relatively high CO2 output of 299g/km but what can
you expect from a V8 engine? Consequently the road tax is now £405 a year and
from April (2010) the 'first year' VED rate will rise to £950 before returning
to £435 for the following years. Of course, if you can afford to buy, or more
likely lease, this type of vehicle then paying that sort of money in tax to
be on the road is chicken-feed. Not even the 35% Benefit-in-Kind company car
tax is going to make any difference to the drivers who choose to have a Range
Rover they pay quite happily for what they get and they get the best
of its kind.
For sure the Range Rover, or any big 4x4, will not be affordable, desirable
or will not suit a fair proportion of motorists but this British-built icon
created the 4x4 passenger car market and it is still going strong after 40 years.
So while it's expensive to buy and to run, it's also huge in every way: image,
comfort, limousine interior, quality and off-road ability. David Miles
Range Rover TDV8 3.6 Autobiography | £77,335
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 27.9mpg
Power: 271bhp | Torque: 472lb ft | CO2 299g/km | Insurance group 20