2011 Range Rover Vogue TDV8, 4.4-litre V8 turbo diesel, 8-speed automatic transmission: $160,500
The introductory blurb on the top of the press release says, “The Most Capable and Luxurious SUV in the World”. No argument there.
Tom Cruise, Prince Charles, the Queen, the Pope, Billy Connolly, David Beckham, Britney Spears, Richard Branson, Hilary Duff, Kobe Bryant and the Russkaya Mafiya (Russian Mafia) – all have one very large thing in common: they’ve all owned, or currently own, a Range Rover, or two.
Launched back in 1970, the Range Rover has become an automotive icon and perhaps the most globally recognised vehicle alongside its own bare bones sibling, the classic Land Rover Defender.
It’s ironic isn’t it? That the same company that builds the most luxurious SUV in the world also produces one of the most rugged, if not, the most basic, yet capable 4×4 on the planet.
To think that the first generation Range Rover was in production for a staggering 25 years is simply mind blowing. Even more remarkable though, is the fact that for more than 20 years no other luxury carmaker thought to compete in what has developed into a lucrative and wide-ranging automotive segment.
These days, Range Rover faces stiff competition from Germany with the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, all vying for market share in the ever-growing luxury SUV segment.
It’s that kind of relentless competition from the makers of many of the world’s finest automobiles that keeps Land Rover executives awake at night. It’s also the reason why the 2011 Range Rover Vogue is still the world’s best luxury SUV.
At almost five metres long and just under two metres high, the Range Rover Vogue is an impressive sight. There’s no seven-seat option, which gives way to a massive luggage capacity of 2099 litres with the rear seats folded. Chances are you won’t ever need to fold them, as there is still 994 litres of load space behind the second row.
Over the years, there have been one or two underpowered variants of the Range Rover that have struggled to effectively pull such mass around at a fair and reasonable pace. Take the 1986 Range Rover powered by the 2.4-litre VM Motori TD14. This was a unit that at maximum rpm was no quicker than a pregnant wombat having an afternoon siesta.
Fortunately, the issue of enough performance from Land Rover’s latest diesel powerplant is unlikely to ever come up in any discussion centred on the 2011 Range Rover Vogue TDV8. The question is much more likely to be, ‘Can you handle the 700 Netwon-metres Ma’am?’
While you can still get a 5.0-litre, 32-valve V8, either naturally aspirated or blown under the bonnet of your Vogue, might I suggest that you forego that particular test-drive and go directly for the one that says 4.4-litre TDV8.
If by chance, you’re still not convinced that diesel power is for you, then after just five minutes behind the wheel of this new Vogue TDV8, I can guarantee that you’ll happily sign on the dotted line. This is a certified tour de force of the engine world, and will go down in history as one of the great automotive achievements of its time.
Hit the start button and the TDV8 fires up simultaneously, with a level of refinement usually found only in a V12 petrol engine. There isn’t any diesel clatter, not even at idle. Land Rover engineers have clearly gone to huge lengths to ensure that engine noise inside the Vogue’s cabin is concert hall quiet. That is until you have reason to stomp on the throttle and call up the total sum of 230kW and 700Nm of torque. It’s a serious amount of grunt that literally catapults the 2810kg Range Rover towards the horizon.
Mind you the new super smooth ZF eight-speed automatic transmission gets all that power down with a level of refinement not yet experienced in a diesel powered car. If Rolls Royce ever decides to build an SUV, the Range Rover Vogue TDV8 will be the benchmark vehicle.
There’s zero lag when you drill the throttle from a standing start. That’s the Parallel Sequential turbos operating in full bi-turbo mode once the engine revs hit 2400rpm. 0-100km/h takes just 7.8 seconds, and that’s considerably quicker than the 9.2 seconds that was possible with the outgoing 3.6-litre V8 diesel at full steam.
This kind of acceleration from diesel power in a car weighing near enough to 3000kg was mere science fiction a few years ago. But that’s not where the real talent lies with the new Vogue. Oh no, it’s much more about mid-range acceleration, and that’s where all 700Nm comes into play. How about 80km/h-120km/h in 5.1 seconds, will that do it for you?
The torque from this engine is seemingly endless, I mean, it just doesn’t let up – awesome is the only word that comes to mind.
Don’t worry about the absence of a twin-clutch gearbox either; they’re still idiosyncratic at times and downright jittery in traffic. What you want is this eight-speed ZF automatic box; this is the piece de resistance of transmissions when it comes to refinement. The seamless shift of each individual gear ratio is remarkable. Several times we jumped on the throttle from a lazy 70km/h, and the transition from eighth to third was both lightning fast and silky smooth.
While diesel clatter has been all but exorcised from this sophisticated diesel, there’s a marvelous sports style induction noise inside the cabin whenever this unit is on song.
Halfway through the test route and I’ve finally discovered a perfectly good set of paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. You’ll want to engage these fast response paddles from the moment you come across a twisty stretch of road. Despite the Range Rover’s large proportions, you can still have some fun in the bends. It’s not that there’s any shortfall in torque up in the higher ratios, but given the chart topping fuel efficiency of this diesel there’s a natural tendency for the ZF to find eighth gear rather quickly.
Land Rover has taken no chances when it comes to reining in such a high-speed behemoth. Massive six-piston brake calipers by the braking gurus at Brembo have been deployed over 380mm front ventilated rotors, for prodigious stopping power. That said, you need to apply a reasonable amount of force to the brake pedal.
If Range Rover is your choice of SUV, but you’re looking for outright performance, then it’s difficult to argue a case against 375kW and 625Nm from the 5.0-litre LR-V8 supercharged petrol engine. That choice will get you from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, around the same time as the sizzling Renault Megane RS 250.
It’s a remarkable bit of kit that Supercharged V8, but what it can’t possibly deliver is the almost unbelievable fuel consumption numbers that the TDV8 can.
Ignore the published fuel consumption figure of 8.2L/100km on the spec sheet for extra-urban travel; that’s way off the mark. It’s more like 6.5L/100km, and that’s sitting on anywhere between 108-113km/h for over 200km. It’s absolutely staggering except for the fact that we took a shot of the average fuel consumption after one such run this week. No sane individual would believe us without the photo. Oh, and that’s with two adult passengers with luggage and camera gear.
My colleague and I both looked at each other in that gobsmacked kind of way, and unable to speak. We then got a little bit cocky and thought that if we stuck to 80km/h in the Vogue, we could slide under 5.5L/100km on a run from Sydney to Melbourne perhaps. Nah, that just wouldn’t be possible, would it?
As you expect when traveling Range Rover Vogue class, the ride is nothing less than what you might expect from the world’s most luxurious sedans, and that includes Jaguar’s svelte XJ series cars.
Supreme ride comfort across the smoothest tarmac or up and down one-metre rock faces is due to the Range Rover’s complex four-way linked adaptive air suspension system, which can virtually replicate a live axle set-up when extreme wheel articulation is required.
A proper hard core off road test wasn’t necessary for this launch, as apart from a few enhancements to the Terrain Response system including Gradient Acceleration control and Hill Start Assist, the Vogue’s off-road ability remains untouchable when you consider the comfort levels.
It was only last year that we took on some of the toughest terrain imaginable in the Scottish Highlands only to breeze through the course with such ease that it didn’t seem real. It didn’t seem to matter whether we were navigating through rivers of mud or up rock walls, the Range Rover didn’t blink.
A Range Rover Vogue is unlikely the sort of vehicle you’re going to head out on an early Sunday morning in for a high-speed blast across the local mountain range, but it is a car that can be driven at a reasonable pace in the bendy bits, despite its body mass. It’s a predictive suspension system, which monitors all kinds of driver input from brake pressure, steering behavior to throttle response, and then sets the car up for that style of driving. It works a treat too as there is no SUV in this class that I have driven that delivers such a supple ride across such a wide variety of road surfaces.
Riding in the 2011 Range Rover Vogue is nothing less than a seven-star experience. It’s a combination of superbly supple leather upholstery, an interior fit-out better than what Audi can manage, and a level of luxury kit that will leave you wanting for nothing. If you must though, go ahead and tick the box for the reclining rear seats for a Gold Class movie watching experience. Go ahead with that choice, and you’ll also need the world’s best sounding audio, and that folks, is the Harmon/Kardon Logic 7 1200 watt, 19-speaker sound system. Words cannot describe the sound reproduction this system is capable of.
Gone is the traditional gear selector, which has been replaced by the same circular Drive Selector used in the XF and XJ series Jags. Visually, the console is a lot cleaner than the outgoing model, as even the Terrain Response dial has been flattened via a press button style. While it’s a lot less busy, I preferred the metal selector, as it had that hand-machined look and feel about it.
If I have used too many superlatives in this review, then allow me to apologise, but the truth is, the 2011 Range Rover Vogue TDV8 has no rivals and sits in a class of its own.