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Driven: Range Rover TDV6. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Range Rover TDV6
One of the cheapest Range Rovers you can buy is still simply sublime.

 



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| Test Drive | Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE |

Overall rating: 5 5 5 5 5

Good points: looks, build quality, driving experience, ride and general cabin appointment
Not so good: Range Rover Sport SDV6 Autobiography is quicker and better specced

Key Facts

Model tested: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE
Pricing: £77,910 basic; £83,120 as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Cayenne
CO2 emissions: 196g/km
Combined economy: 37.7mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Power: 258hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2,000rpm

Our view:

The fourth-generation Range Rover has been with us for a year now, so we wanted to spend an extended period of time with the smallest-engined example, the TDV6, to see if it can maintain its reputation as being a cut above the rest when not in V8 format.

Even in 'middling' Vogue SE spec on 19-inch wheels, the design is fresh and modern, yet at the same time littered with traditional Range Rover design cues - such as the 'floating' roof, upswept rear overhang and clamshell bonnet. One slightly odd feature is the false door vents, which I could take or leave. Otherwise, though, the smoothing off of the preceding L322's bluff shape has worked well, and it's just different enough from the newer Sport at first glance to make it obviously a 'proper' Range Rover. This one was finished in Siberian Silver with a Navy and Cirrus interior, and even though I am not a huge fan of silver cars, with an extra dash of blue in the metallic flake the TDV6 looks exceptional. Even on those 19s, it doesn't look under-wheeled.

Inside is flawless - the fit and finish of everything is sublime, there's a superb driving position that's commanding without feeling way too high and it also has the most comfortable head restraints I've experienced in a car, which makes you really want to relax behind the wheel.

On the practicality front, the extra 118mm of rear legroom this model possesses in comparison to its predecessor really makes itself felt and also makes me question why Land Rover has just announced it will do a long-wheelbase version for those who want it. I cannot imagine that option being popular here in the UK, as the cabin is plenty spacious enough as is. The boot is also good, but not as huge as you might imagine - the floor is high and the sloping roofline combines to make the aperture look small. However, in true Range Rover tradition, it is still accessed by a split tailgate, featuring electric opening and closing for both halves.

Keyless entry and go is a feature on the Vogue SE and it makes sliding into the driver's seat hassle-free, especially if you remembered to lower the RR's suspension at the conclusion of your previous journey. The reduced weight of this generation - it's up to 420kg lighter than the old model, thanks to an all-aluminium monocoque - translates into the doors, which have a nice, solid heft to them but at the same time don't feel cumbersome to open and close.

Once in place, you can press the starter button and fire up the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, which turns out to be the very epitome of refinement. It never transmits vibrations into the cabin and only belies its diesel status during cold start-up or when you absolutely clog the accelerator. Otherwise, it has a lovely muted rumble to it that is befitting of a luxury vehicle like this, and it's good on fuel too - a full tank distance-to-empty reading of over 550 miles is incredible on such a big machine.

While the improved economy is one upside of stripping fat out of the RR, it also has a positive effect on performance. It may only have 258hp but it's remarkably quick for such a large machine. What makes the big Rangie so responsive is not so much that peak power but the colossal 600Nm of torque it backs it up with. In tandem with a fabulous eight-speed auto, which makes gearshifts that are the definition of seamless, the TDV6 feels like it sheds all of its 2,160kg mass when you ask it to accelerate. The throttle is nice and sharp, the car lunges forward and you generally feel confident in pulling out of junctions in nip and tuck situations.

I never once during my time with it lamented a lack of go, something you couldn't say of the old Td6 L322 Range Rover, and although I'd probably still pick the SDV8 model if I had enough cash to buy my own Rangie, I think the TDV6's claimed 40.4mpg on the motorway is hugely commendable. This parsimony is not just because of the car's weight loss programme when compared to its predecessor; it's also because the L405 is the most aerodynamic Range Rover yet built.

The real area of excellence in terms of dynamics is the ride/handling balance. The TDV6 does not wallow around on its springs, despite being bereft of the electronic roll control of the V8 models, and yet offers sharp enough responses to be a pleasure to hustle along. Don't expect it to defy physics but it's certainly capable enough when you're off the motorway. However, when cruising, the TDV6 is beyond reproach - the damping is spot-on and wind noise is next to inaudible. Four up with luggage on a motorway run to London, nothing could have done it in more comfort than the Range Rover, while it returned an exceptional 36.7mpg average over the 300-mile trip, not far off the claimed figure.

This car represents the entry level in terms of engine size and mid-level for trim, but there isn't a single area where you can ascertain either fact. It feels utterly premium in every aspect. The flipside of this is that Vogue SE models start at £77,910, although you do get a lot of standard kit for this. Our car was equipped with £5,210 of options (the panoramic roof, £1,900; rear seat entertainment, £1,900; detachable tow bar, £810; front and rear wing head rests, £400; and a full-size spare wheel, £200), but comes with satnav, climate seats and full leather as you would expect in a car of this category - plus what has to be one of the best standard sound systems I've encountered in any car, an 825w Meridian set-up that remains crystal clear and free of distortion even at obscene volumes.

Overall, the Range Rover with the smallest engine comes out as a winner across the board. It's way ahead of any of its natural SUV rivals, hence the oft-quoted comparison with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and it feels worth every penny of its high cost. The only thing it didn't do well was reversing up slight inclines, which is hardly the end of the world.

In fact, the only real problem I can see comes from within the Land Rover family, namely in the shape of the Range Rover Sport. You could have the smaller model with the more powerful SDV6 engine and in all-singing, all-dancing Autobiography spec, for £74,995, and thanks to the vast improvements made in the second-generation Sport when compared to the first, it feels 99 per cent as premium as the full-size Range Rover.

However, I'd go for the real thing - this TDV6 never felt like an exercise in cost-cutting and proved to be a wonderful companion in all manner of driving conditions during our time with it, and if you cherish serenity and the ability to cover huge distance with the minimum of effort, I really can't think of anything better than this. Stunning.

Alternatives:

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé: always worth a look as it gets better every time Mercedes updates it - but the Range Rover has a better cabin and more commanding driving position.
Porsche Cayenne: slight dynamic advantage and also cheaper, but the still-questionable looks and the ethics of a Porsche SUV might put people off.

Range Rover Sport: now much closer to its big brother in terms of quality in its second generation, you could have a 292hp SDV6 top-spec Autobiography for three grand less than the TDV6 Vogue SE. Tempting...


Matt Robinson - 13 Nov 2013









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2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.



2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2013 Range Rover. Image by Matt Robinson.
 






 

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