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Week at the Wheel: Range Rover TDV8. Image by Land Rover.

Week at the Wheel: Range Rover TDV8
The Range Rover is ancient in car years, but like anything else that's big in Hollywood, a facelift has made it more fabulous.


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| Week at the Wheel | 2010 Range Rover TDV8 |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

The end of 2009 has prompted claims by some that the Range Rover is the best car the noughties produced. If that's the case, it's largely due to its interior, which is simply sensational. Even though the basic architecture is essentially over a decade old - with its development started by BMW before the millennium - it's still one of the very best in the business in terms of its sheer palatial splendour. It's really not that far below a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The recent facelift has freshened it up even further, and although the layout is arguably slightly fussy in a world where iDrive and the like reduce the need for multiple nubbins, it's still intuitive and littered with splendid touches - both material and technological - that make it special; we love stuff like leather wrapped grab handles, the Jaguar-sourced dual-view satnav screen (which lets driver and passenger watch separate displays simultaneously) and the fully digital instrument panel that comes alive on start-up.

Similarly, the outside has benefitted from the 2010 model year update, though to our humble peepers the basic shape is beginning to age in the face of more aesthetically detailed rivals. We understand, however, that its clean lines and unfussy two-box silhouette holds appeal in a classic sort of way. And because it's huge, practicality is a given, both for passengers and luggage. Ultimately, very few cars feel quite as stately as a Range Rover, and only the most archaically minded anti-SUV militant wouldn't enjoy being driven around in one.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

The 3.6-litre TDV8 is bread and butter for Range Rover ownership; it's the 'realistic' option of a total of two - the other being the new 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged. The diesel V8 is a beautifully smooth and strong performer that makes light work of a 2.7-tonne car, but it's not without fault. Our issue is mainly with the noise it makes at motorway speeds, which we'd expect to be better quelled in a luxury car, but whose bass-like whine is a little too intrusive on open throttle.

Still, in all other circumstances the engine and six-speed automatic transmission combination is effortless and unobtrusive - as you'd expect from 271bhp and 472lb.ft. Fuel economy is ostensibly good too, essentially because the Range Rover is usually driven in relaxed fashion, which means mpg in the twenties is possible and the fuel gauge creeps downward nice and slowly. But that's a kind of ruse: the tank is 104.5 litres huge, which at current prices will cost around 115 to brim.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

The Range Rover's combination of elevated ride height, interior serenity and dismissive power delivery means it encourages a laid back driving style in the same way a BMW M product encourages the opposite. It smoothes most road surfaces in silky fashion, meaning that much of the time it's exceptionally comfortable. However, because it's also an imperious off-roader - which granted, most will never find out - it has a good few inches of suspension travel and at times feels soft rather than supple; it tends to get a little too unsettled at low speeds over particularly shredded surfaces. It doesn't wallow, but neither does the suspension soak up everything thrown at it at all times, in the way the very best luxury saloons do. Blame its sheer bulk and, again, the off road remit for that. Still, it's remarkably refined.

We can't comment on the off-road abilities of our specific test car, never having taken it over anything more taxing than a sleeping policeman, but we can vouch for its Terrain Response system in both the Discovery 4 and Range Rover Sport. On the road, where it matters most for a car costing 76,000, it's difficult to criticise because it so well balances the need for day-to-day comfort with the need - moot as it may be in reality - to stay a true, hill-conquering Land Rover. Ultimately, it's comfortable and easy to pilot because the driving position, steering and brakes are all well judged rather than compromised by any notion of sportiness, as can be the case with top-end SUVs.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

As we've already mentioned, given the Range Rover's luxury car status, fuel economy in the low twenties isn't so bad, although owners will be hit with a Band M VED charge, which as well as 450 per year in road tax means a whopping great 950 showroom tax in the first year (in lieu of the 450). Since 2006 Land Rover has offset the emissions of a new Range Rover for the first 45,000 miles though, assuming your carbon footprint is the sort of thing that worries you on the way to spa weekends and things.

With the range kicking off at 65,000 and peaking at 80,000 for a Supercharged V8 petrol model, the Range Rover is not cheap to buy. However, it therefore lacks nothing in equipment. Our car was a top-level 'Biography' spec packed to the brim with kit including... well, do you really want to read a list? It never seems quite as 'techy' as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, but it's still full of lovely stuff, like a stitched leather headlining, the aforementioned touch screen TFT satnav, blind spot monitoring and a mega Harman Kardon surround sound system - perfect for Beethoven or Biggie Smalls, two of a Range Rover stereo's most popular artists we reckon.

Overall: star star star star star

The Range Rover is without doubt a five-star car in terms of the feeling you get when you drive it, because it's just such a lovely place to sit; we can fully understand why it might be lauded as car of the decade. It's arguably looking a little dated now though, despite the improvements of the latest facelift, and there is one major thorn in its side...

That'd be the 2010 Range Rover Sport. The 2010 Sport is so improved over the outgoing model - specifically the interior - that unless you absolutely must have the bit of extra space (unlikely) and the iota of additional prestige, it's all the Range Rover you'll ever need. It's five figures cheaper too.

Mark Nichol - 26 Jan 2010

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2010 Land Rover Range Rover specifications: (3.6 TDV8 Autobiography)
Price: 77,335 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Combined economy: 25.1mpg
Emissions: 299g/km
Kerb weight: 2717kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.

2010 Range Rover. Image by Land Rover.


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