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Click for pictures“Fly or drive?
  When you’re going as
  far as the beautiful
  Scottish Isle of Arran,
  there’s no contest.
  Especially if you get
  the imposing 3.0-litre
  turbocharged Range
  Rover to travel in”

WHEN WE ROAD TESTED the latest incarnation of the evergreen Range Rover we reviewed the petrol-engined V8. And very persuasive it was too. But just how big a part does that big, burbly V8 play in the Range Rover's enduring appeal? To find out, we drove over a thousand miles in a 3.0-litre Td6 model. All the way, in fact, to Scotland's hauntingly lovely Isle of Arran. And back. In February.

You don't have to be crazy to do this job, but it definitely helps! Despite frequent snow and ice warnings, we reassured ourselves (quite a few times before the appointed day) that at least we'd be very safe and extremely comfortable. Before going further we'd like to draw your attention to the fact that almost everything about the V8 models applies to the Td6, so please also check out our V8 review.

For petrol engines, Range Rover chooses to use V8s from Jaguar. But when it comes to diesel power Land Rover's finest uses BMW's smooth 3.0-litre, common-rail, in-line 6-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled diesel — an engine that's seen active service in one of the Range Rover's most talented rivals: BMW's own take on the luxury SAV, the suave and accomplished X5.

Endowed with gutsy performance — we're speaking torque here, not brake horsepower, and that's 287lb ft. Every last pound-foot of it is readily available at 2,000rpm. Against this, the Td6's 174bhp is of almost secondary importance.

In Td6 guise, the 3.0-litre turbodiesel is mated to a smooth state-of-the-art 5-speed Steptronic autobox that in full-automatic mode delivers very some slick shifting. While lacking the sheer grunt of the tractable V8s, the 3.0-litre is no pushover. Zero to 60mph takes 12.7 seconds and the top speed is 111mph. You have to remember that it's hauling around a two-and-a-half tonne body. So although the 177bhp copes okay in day-to-day driving, you do have to work it if you really want to get a move on. It is, however, more than up to scratch for cruising, when the cabin remains a relaxing sanctuary. Off-road, thanks to that 287lb ft of torque, the turbodiesel has all the guts necessary
to get the job done. And done in style.

For comparative purposes, note that the 4.4 V8 produces 325lb ft and 282bhp. That helps it trim the 0-60mph figure to 9 seconds and push the top speed to 130mph. The price you pay for the extra two cylinders is an eye-watering thirst around town of 12.7mpg whereas our Td6 returned a not unreasonable 21mpg (officially, it's 19.6). Touring sees the diesel returning a commendable 30.1 versus the petrol V8's 22.4mpg. These are Range Rover's own figures and going by our average (computed over in excess of one thousand miles) they can be trusted. Overall, we matched the turbodiesel's official mixed driving figure. On the same trip we would have expected a V8 to return 17.4mpg.

Before we set out, we didn't know how much fuel we were going to use on our round trip. Only that it could be a good idea to take more than one credit card. Travelling in the depths of winter, we had to take into consideration that the weather and road conditions might be treach-erous. Also, official fuel consumption figures aren't always easy to replicate in real driving conditions. As it turned out we didn't stop once for fuel on the journey North, only filling up 500 miles after setting off when we disembarked from the ferry on Arran. Courtesy of the 22 gallon tank and an average fuel consumption of 25mpg. Pretty good going.

The first time you climb up behind the Range Rover's steering wheel it feels daunting if you've never sat in such a large vehicle. But once you've fired up the engine, flicked the stubby selector lever into Drive and joined the traffic it pulls its party trick on you. It seems to shrink on the road, giving you instant confidence to place it accurately. I don't know if you've noticed, but parking bays at many of the motor-way services are getting smaller and tighter, but we didn't have any problems in the Td6 thanks to the fine visibility and the standard front and rear parking sensors. The air suspension and dynamic stability control system also play their parts well, ensuring body roll from the tall (6 foot 2 inch) cab is well-contained and that it stays level through the bends. It does lean a bit — but never anywhere near enough to be unsettling.

The feel though the leather rim of the wheel is on the light side, but it's also very accurate so it's of no consequence. We found the heated steering wheel rim a real boon: it not only kept hands and fingers comfortably warm, but over hours of driving kept them flexible, too. An easily overlooked and underrated safety benefit. The brakes operate progressively and reassuringly, as you'd rightfully expect given all the active safety systems including permanent 4WD, Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control working away under the skin.

Our hundreds of mostly motorway miles from Kent were despatched with about as much exertion as most motorists would spend travelling fifty. Climbing out for the occasional refreshment or to change drivers, it felt as though we'd been driving for no time at all. You could argue that it would have been quicker by plane, but even first class wouldn't have been anywhere near as comfortable as the front seats of the Range Rover proved to be. And we could stop whenever we wanted to and we didn't have to arrange extra travel to and from both airports or to and from Arran. Also, we had an ideal vehicle with which to explore the island.

All major controls are straightforward and there's enough seat
(16-way!) and electric rake and reach steering wheel adjustment to keep the most compulsive obsessive occupied for hours. Especially commendable are the electrically adjustable split upper backrests.
The sumptuous 'Contour' seats are precisely that — luxuriously contoured. In short, you'll be comfortable whatever your body shape or size. All four seats are also heated and, naturally, there is automatic air conditioning. Any compromises in melding its superb off-road proficiency with luxury car performance and equipment have been very dexterously balanced by Land Rover to the degree that you're simply not aware of any.

Two of us were off to a friend's wedding and intending to spend a number of days and nights on Arran, so there was a considerable amount of luggage. In fact, we didn't even have to fold down the rear seats as the 535-litre boot is genuinely all-accommodating. The two-part tailgate opens up to reveal what is one of the biggest boots in the business: with the asymmetrically split rear seat folded forward there's 1,756 litres — enough to sleep in, and I'm we could have saved a pretty penny had we done so. The load-bearing lower tailgate not only made loading and unloading our heavy cases a doddle, but it also came in handy for standing on when seal-watching along Arran's shoreline overlooking the Mull of Kintyre.

The 57,000 Td6 Vogue comes with all the top-drawer kit you could wish for. The fabulous-looking cabin comes equipped with a seven-inch colour touch-screen driver interface. Its user-friendly technology controls the DVD 3-D satellite navigation, audio, telephone and tele-vision systems as well as trip computer (with a selectable speed limit warning) and useful 4x4 information. Off-road information displayed includes gear selection, steering direction, which range (High or Low)
is engaged, Hill Descent Control and compass direction. Air suspension data is also shown, together with wheel articulation for all four wheels. It even alerts you when wheel articulation is approaching suspension limitations. Thoughtful touches include the electro-chromatic, auto-dim rearview mirror and door mirrors and the wiper park area built into the windscreen that is able to warm itself to prevent the wipers freezing in place during cold weather.

Further attractions include a 14-speaker, 710watt harman/kardon LOGIC7 digital surround sound system (with a 6-disc CD autochanger with MP3 capability housed in the glovebox) that can be controlled from the multi-function steering wheel, the touch-screen or via the voice recognition system. Especially useful off the beaten track is 'way marking', where off-road routes taken are recorded on-screen enabling easy navigation back to base. The calculation of distances to destinations using grid references based on latitudinal and longitudinal positioning is also a useful off-road tool. Keeping all its occupants safe are driver and front passenger front, side and head airbags and rear outboard passenger head airbags, as well as drive-off superlocking.

Sitting in your Range Rover you're surrounded by handsome Cherry wood trim, rich leather upholstery and an ambience that surpasses
that of some cars costing over twice the Td6's list price. The cabin atmosphere can be tuned to suit each passenger's requirements using individual temperature controls for both front, rear and side-to-side zones. Alternatively, switch to Automatic Temperature Control with air conditioning and automatic air distribution and let it totally manage your environment for you. Conveniently, your mobile 'phone can be controlled from the steering wheel or by touch-screen or voice commands (Bluetooth enabled mobiles are automatically linked to the system as they approach the vehicle). You do pay rather a lot, but then you get an awful lot of very easy to use and very high-tech goodies in return.

It's trendy to criticise drivers who choose large 4x4s. But the payback is excellent visibility, a reassuring ability to read the road ahead and
a safe and comfortable drive. At the very least this makes for stress-free progress. At the best it can save your life. Team that with a throne-like command driving position, a silky transmission and the Td6's nonchalant pulling power and you've got it made.

Apparently more than ninety per cent of Range Rover owners will
never take their cars off road. I can see where they're coming from. Forget the awesome off-road aptitude and you've still got the lot. Move over zero tolerance for zero stress. And boy, is it addictive.

A welcome guest at the wedding, the Range Rover attracted a lot of attention. And then suddenly someone realised the groom and best man had no way of getting to the church. We offered the Range Rover's services and they leapt at it, kilts flying. But the roomy Range Rover preserved their dignity and, no — we still don't know whether
or not a Scotsman wears anything under his kilt!

The Range Rover possesses awesome all-terrain ability and really will go just about anywhere you have the nerve to take it. We've taken them on some pretty hairy off-road courses that make you wonder about your mental state when you're about to nosedive over a thirty-foot near-vertical drop. The good news is that the Td6 has more than enough torque on tap to pull you through.

Obviously, for serious off-road work you will want to make full use of the sequential manual side of the adaptive Steptronic transmission. Simply slot the selector lever over to the left from Drive for sequential changes. Push forward to shift it up a gear and pull it back to shift down a gear. In addition, the transmission automatically shifts up a gear if revs exceed a pre-set limit and shifts down a gear if the engine starts to labour. Off-road, you will, of course, want Low range engaged even before you even dip one of the 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels in the mud. If you do, you can wash it off quite easily because the Range Rover will wade to a depth of twenty inches.

Once you've driven a Range Rover seriously off-road you can't help
but fully appreciate the massive depth of engineering that's hidden away beneath it's glamorous body — engineering that endows it with
a duality of purpose that can, with total seriousness, play the role of luxury limousine. And yet, with equal aplomb when called upon, it can traverse difficult terrain.

Arran's fabulous natural scenery offered endless opportunities to make good use of the Td6's all-terrain abilities. Don't forget, it's a serious off-road tool. It climbed steep tracks of loose stone, crossed water-logged fields and clambered over rocky foreshores all with utter disdain. This left its four passengers — we met two charming young German ladies, Leena and Tatiana, and took them with us to explore the island — free to bask in the wonderfully balmy sunshine and Arran's stunning scenery. Apparently, Arran not only enjoys some of the finest views in Scotland, but also some of the finest weather.

The sight-seeing drive around the island confirmed the sheer compet-ence of the Range Rover's four-corner, electronic air-suspension. Irrespective of load, number of passengers or weight of luggage, it guarantees a smooth, constant ride height. The computer-controlled air springs automatically deliver softer or firmer springing on road or track conditions, as well as allowing extreme axle articulation over rocks or deep ruts. The ride height can also be manually selected, offering, for instance, the ability to lower the vehicle by 55mm to make it easier to get in and out of and for loading. Left to its own devices
on the move, the air suspension automatically selects the appropriate ride height.

In Td6 spec the Range Rover is a respectably-performing road car,
a generously accommodating load-lugger and a safe and comfortable high-riding limousine. It's an irresistible combination and in its now familiar 'new' guise has made even more conquests. Over the years we've tested a number of Range Rovers and the one thing they all have in common is the ability to make you extremely reluctant to hand them back at the end of the test. Very few sport activity vehicles — and, come to that, very few luxury road cars — come close to edging out the Range Rover in the driving stakes. On the road. Or off of it.

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Range Rover 3.0 Td6 Vogue | 57,000
Maximum speed: 111mph | 0-60mph: 12.7 seconds
Test MPG: 25mpg | Power: 177bhp | Torque: 287lb ft

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