Range Rover Engine
Range Rover Vogue
Range Rover remains the king of the hill for luxury 4x4s. It's officially called the Range Rover, but some customers refer to it simply as the ‘Vogue'. That's the top-line trim – there are also SE and Autobiography variants – although this is but a minor point.
The fabulous latest-generation Range Rover came to market in 2002. It was a model developed under BMW stewardship, which ensured development of the highest order. However, by the time it went on sale, the company was actually owned by Ford. This would have a positive bearing on how its engine range developed in time.
There were just two engines at launch – the 4.4-litre V8 petrol, or 3.0-litre Td6 straight-six diesel. Both were BMW units, and were smooth and refined, but didn't really have quite the oomph to overcome the big Range Rover's substantial kerb weight.
For it was a much larger vehicle than the outgoing one – attracting a more upscale breed of buyer. The styling was spot-on and the interior remains one of the finest automotive cockpits you can buy. The fit, finish and detailing are exemplary – I think it's perfect, quite beautiful. In fact the interior and dash were compared to a luxury yacht and won accolades at the time.
Standard equipment on all models includes cruise control, electric seats, climate control; even an electric steering column adjusts. Optional were air-conditioned seats and the usual sat nav systems – although it's worth noting that the systems in the first Range Rovers are rather cumbersome and tricky to use. The graphics are also dated.
These vehicles are often used as chauffeur cars, so comfort is important. No worries here; the Range Rover has huge amounts of space for five, while the boot is also practical. The split-level tailgate remains attractive – the fold-down bottom half is ideal for picnics at Ascot. The suspension /ride height can be lowered electronically at the touch of a button. Essential to enable ladies to disembarque with a degree of modesty.
It wasn't until 2005 that the engine situation was improved. This is when the Ford parentage of both Land Rover and Jaguar enabled the Jaguar sourced engines to be installed – the 300bhp 4.4-litre was retained whilst the mighty 400bhp 4.2-litre supercharged from the XJ and XK range was added to top the range. Both are first-rate units, finally giving the Range Rover performance worthy of its status. For the time being, though, the diesel was unchanged.
All models also benefited from a much-needed electrical systems update. A new interior wiring system was more reliable and faster operating, giving more ‘premium' control operation. It also meant the dated sat nav system could be upgraded; it now became a touch screen, with clearer and more logical menu systems. There was a rear-view reversing camera, rear DVD player, even outside ‘wireless' cameras and a Harman Kardon premium-line stereo. With this phase of Range Rover, the firm really started to introduce the expensive option differentiators that this end of the market hankers after. Many buyers, I know, simply tick the lot when ordering a Range Rover – the sort of people it attracts only want the best.
Two years later in 2007, another round of changes introduced more visible changes. There were new seats, an electronic handbrake, more wood (and more veneer options) inside, and a more practical split level glove box. Range Rover also fitted an acoustic windscreen, which cut interior noise levels even more, while the suspension and brakes also received a makeover to improve its driving manners.
But the biggest advance was the installation of the 3.6-litre TDV 8 diesel engine. This is an excellent engine that could have been made for the Range Rover. With 272bhp, it has power and torque by the bucket load, yet also retains the refined, up market refinement buyer's demand. It's a very viable alternative to the supercharged model, given the extra fuel economy it offers. The heavier depreciation of the petrol engine model brings the values much nearer in the second hand market.
The firm also introduced an official Autobiography trim. This is an even higher spec with bespoke trims and veneers. It's so customisable; it's hard to see where the market is for aftermarket tuner specialists. The factory has clearly seen the trends for individualising Range Rovers, and learnt fast. The Range Rover is another vehicle that has been affected by the market downturn. In fact it suffered a number of blows in the market. Towards the end of 2007 the Ken Livingstone manifesto for re-election as London Mayor signaled a £25 congestion charge for high emission vehicles. Anti 4WD and green activists used to target Range Rovers with stickers and the drivers with abuse. Throughout the credit crunch they were virtually unsalable.
As the market has started to return during the past 6 months there have been 2 factors that have re-energised the Range Rover market. Firstly is the shortage of clean used examples in the market which has led to price inflation. Secondly the 2010 model year cars are significantly improved. With much lower sales of new cars in 2009 and a lack of the traditional rolling order book, the 2010 model cars are mostly forward ordered with lead times stretching two or three months ahead.
The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is the first production Range Rover to pack 500 horse power and leaves no scope for the tuners to add any more meaningful power hikes/ new features such as the electronic instrument panel and ‘dual l view' central screen (driver gets sat nav, passenger can watch a movie), it is not just the Rolls-Royce of the 4x4 world… it is a machine comparable with a Rolls- Royce. In fact Land Rover, conscious of the large chauffeur driven use, listened to owners complaining about the rear seating position and now offer the option of electric rear seat rake adjustment.
Overall, Range Rover Vogue is a model with authority. It's the best there is – if you want more seating capacity, you could look to the Mercedes GL but that does not compare dynamically. The Range Rover remains the preferred choice of most buyers in this sector though; not for nothing have I just sold a 5.0-litre Supercharged model, with options, for £92,000/.
The above is extracted from a 68 page luxury car market report that can be found on www.clivesutton.co.uk.