When I think about luxury, many things come to mind. At the forefront of such a notion for me are experiences. True, luxurious things transcend the material world. They are experiences that are seldom offered. Getting half an hour to chew the fat with your idol. Taking a tour through somewhere that isn’t open to mere mortals.
These are things money doesn’t buy, but has the power to unlock. Sure, you might not be directly able to view someone’s private art gallery, but mixing in the right circles due to your circumstances may result in it occurring.
I digress with such frivolities as it lays an important foundation for exploring what the new 2020 Range Rover Vogue offers. At $201,700 without options and approximately $240,000 as tested (before on-road costs), it’s something that many will not experience.
But if you get the chance to, given your insatiable appetite to mingle with the who’s who of this world, I’m sure you’ll find it more of a premium experience, instead of an expensive car with many, many bells and whistles.
I’m sure the question will be asked, so I’ll address it up-front. Why buy a sports utility vehicle at this cost when there are faster, more sporty options available at similar or even cheaper prices?
Well, this is where the Range Rover Vogue becomes a discerning choice. How often, really, would you get the chance to enjoy 400+ kilowatts and huge torque figures? Now ask yourself, how often do you get to experience what the Vogue offers? Pretty much every time you drive it, at any speed, in any situation. Rain, hail or shine.
What it brings isn’t dependent on driving style or an empty road. It doesn’t care if you are stuck in traffic, or whether you’re on a pleasant B-road. It consistently tries to fatigue you less, provide you with sanctuary, and serve up your favourite piece of entertainment re-created as honestly as possible.
Strikes me as good value in that frame of reference.
There’s no mistaking the big RR for anything else. It commands a presence on the road, not only because of its sheer size, but also because of its style. This tester’s Atlas Silver exterior accent package (a $1840 option) lends a sense of scale to its size.
It’s a nice contrast to have, especially on a dark-finished example, such as the Rossello Red choice depicted here. On the topic of the colour, I personally think it’s very regal and well suited to the application.
The Vogue’s fuss-free design allows such big bold statements to do their talking, free from nuance. If you’re after something that exudes class, then you’ll not be let down by it in that respect. Another dignified touch is the addition of "22-inch ‘Style 9012’, nine-split spoke, gloss dark grey wheels with a diamond-turned finish". I had to write all of that to give some clout to their $5960 cost, as per the options list.
The exterior theme just paves the way for what’s next, once the soft-close doors latch themselves safely for you. On the road, it’s pretty special. The air suspension has a sense of wafty-ness about it, traversing ground without interruption.
In saying that, when the surface becomes poor, it still manages to provide a reminder of the changed conditions. It can be firm when the time is right, and initially I was a little shaken by the rude interruptions. However, the more time you spend behind the wheel, the more it makes sense.
There are three ride heights selectable: one for access reasons that’s overridden with speed; a regular height; and an off-road height. A nice touch is a one-touch access height button that’s conveniently located next to the side-mirror controls on top of the driver’s door.
Up front, a pair of 22-way heated, cooled and massage seats ensure you’re welcomed appropriately. The auto-massage function is worthwhile, meaning it’ll begin the subtle back rub once you’ve settled in. Rearward, your guests are welcomed in equal measure with their own heated and cooled seats. No massage, however.
This package does cost $4900, but it is certainly a requirement in such a vehicle. Rear passengers can also control both rear windows, the electric roof blind, and even harness control of the stereo’s volume via a mute button, in case Jeeves makes a wrong turn.
The materials are first-rate. The leather has that particular expensive aroma to it. Grand black veneer trims accent the bone hide to a tee. But don’t be mistaken by the subjectively old-fashioned décor. The switches on the steering wheel are capacitive, meaning you can roll your fingers in circles, sort of like a physical gesture, in order to adjust volume.
When you change to a configuration menu, the buttons change operation and offer a new set of controls. It feels high-tech and blends in this nature seamlessly. The JLR Pro Duo twin 10.0-inch infotainment system does wonders to speak to this modern side. It's a little overwhelming at first, but once understood it makes interactions with the car quite easy. You can adjust and alter modes on the top screen from the bottom, such as flicking to Apple CarPlay via a quick shortcut.
The lower screen controls items such as the terrain management system, climate control and seating. It’s clear and precise. Comparing this system to the previous-generation product is night and day. Gone is the sea of old-hat buttons and switches. It brings an important high-use area of the car into today’s world.
Aside of expensive-smelling leather and technology, space is where the Vogue departs from the rest. The cabin feels huge. Five people could probably share the centre armrest and still have room. Everything is nicely proportioned to suit the scale of the environment, as well as for sheer selfish comfort.
On test, I got stuck for nearly three hours in quite terrible weather on some of Sydney’s busiest thoroughfares. Testament to the quality of design and construction is how amazingly chipper I felt upon exiting the vehicle.
It selectively deprives the sensations that promote the growth of tiredness. It encourages your wellness to thrive at the same time, too. This is what I like about this car: its best properties are leached into you whenever you’re in the car. You don’t have to be giving it a hard time for it to come alive – it’s a different approach that makes more sense in the real world.
I’d go so far as to say you can benefit from it while stationary. On one occasion, I was parked and waiting for someone to return to the car. Before I knew it, they were back. Time flies when you’re having fun. Or when you’re insanely comfortable listening to Meridian’s finest grace your ears.
You’ll be hard-pressed to utilise every last millimetre of the smaller, standard-wheelbase version. After pressing and holding the boot-opening button on the key and watching the origami-in-motion split tailgate open sesame, you’ll be tasked with filling 900L of boot space with whatever you’re holding.
Activating the two buttons on the far right of the boot area will then proceed to fold the second-row seats flat, adding another 1043L, creating 1943L in total. Arch-to-arch inner clearance measures up at 1.1m, but in summary the space is sizable and very well useable.
Despite such luxuries, it’s the engine in this P400 variant that’s blissfully premium in nature. I was excited when JLR introduced the new Ingenium series inline six-cylinder. Vee-shaped engines have their time and place, but if you’re chasing something buttery smooth, inline is the way to go.
This new power plant is pretty darn special. It features a single, twin-scroll turbocharger alongside a 48-volt e-supercharger, continuously variable valve lift and an energy-recovering and deploying starter motor. Package up those goodies into an inline-six platform, and the result is nothing short of extraordinary. Power is put through the standard JLR fare that we've come to love - a torque-converter equipped eight-speed Auto from the masters over at ZF.
It purrs into life with that epic baritone we’ve all come to love. There’s barely a physical notification that it’s alive, as it’s just darn smooth. Given the fact it's twin-charged, there’s no real shortage in response anywhere in the powerband. Its 294kW dials in from 6500rpm, but peak torque of 550Nm is fully available from 2000 to 5000rpm.
Again, I reiterate. That’s 550Nm available in full across a breadth of 3000rpm, deployed by a twin-charged inline six that’s equipped with valves that can adjust their openings very fluidly throughout the RPM range.
It’s an incredible propulsion option that summarises what this car does well, which is to blend traditional and modern experiences to create a sense of true luxury. The front of house is new, exciting and trendy, with the latest advancements you’ve come to expect from the high-end.
However, back of house runs like clockwork using traditional, tested methods and employing old-school tricks of the trade to keep its guests free from interruption and as unfazed as possible.
This driveline feels powerful and conjuring all of that torque isn’t linked to any major increase in vibration or harshness. That alone makes it feel a little magical when you feed in the go-pedal. Getting to 100km/h takes 6.3 seconds, which is swift bearing in mind it weighs over 2.3 tonnes. Speaking of big weights, it’s rated to lug 3.5 tonnes.
Over the test period, which included some big traffic moments and longer, higher-speed B-road action, it consumed 11.9 litres per 100km as per the trip computer. The claimed combined figure is 9.4L/100km, so we finished up a bit over that, but not unusually high given the complexities of the driveline, as well as the weight.
Despite my love for this particular variant, which extends to this individual example we have on test, there are some glaring holes in the proposition. Firstly, a three-year/100,000km warranty does not cut the mustard.
I’m not going to say it ever did for that matter, even without acknowledging Mercedes-Benz’s recent announcement regarding warranty. Offering limited coverage on a $200K-and-some car, which in some cases will be used thoroughly in pseudo-regional areas of this state, is disappointing. It may hamper their cut-through in such areas, and I can sympathise with those who will walk away influenced by this point.
Then there’s the usual qualm of scouring through a list of stuff that doesn’t come with the price. In this setting, sure thing, 22-inch wheels and lovely veneers are open to style interpretations and therefore do not come with the car. If you want the nice stuff, pay for it, roger that.
Making people pay for a 360-degree camera on a car that's 5m long and over 2m wide is disappointing. That’s nothing to do with style or taste, it’s just a safety system that ought to be in such a large car out of the box.
The fact it lacks that could be to do with the tailoring process each example undergoes prior to arriving on our shores, meaning they’re specified on a case-by-case basis in few numbers, but regardless it creates an unnecessary complexity.
Another option equipped on our tester were pixel-laser headlights, a $6940 indulgence. These, contrastingly to the tone above, are excellent to use and great to experience in action. They seemingly split the beam up into a very, very segmented array that can be isolated and shut down by individual small segments. Their half-a-kilometre range is also pretty incredible, given how small the units are.
Maintaining a full-size Range Rover is an easy affair. It’s free, for five years. Servicing is included in the cost of the vehicle, or as they put it, “complimentary”. I’m not sure if it's borderline evil or fiscally clever that two of those services fall outside of the warranty period of the car.
At least if something were to occur, it would be resolved swiftly, given it is likely to be in right company for those two years after the warranty lapses. In an alternative world, I wonder if Land Rover could put the cost of five years' servicing into more warranty coverage or split the difference and achieve something similar?
This car remains, so long into its life cycle, as something quite landmark. Exposure to it increases your vitality more than anything else out there. Its nature supports your entirety well, while facilitating your desires to move from place to place.
It’s a luxury automotive experience that’s hard to get. Prized, almost. The new powertrain takes it to new heights, and brings in some savvy tech to better its valiant cause.