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Range Rover Vogue 11MY

Big performing turbodiesel highlight of Range Rover's updated Vogue
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Range Rover Vogue 11MY

International Launch
Porto, Portugal

What we liked
>> Smooth, responsive new turbodiesel and eight-speed
>> Same offroad ability; now with ascent controls
>> Comfort in all places, in all conditions

Not so much
>> Lacks exterior style

Overall rating: 4.0/5.0
Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 4.0/5.0
Price, Packaging and Practicality: 4.0/5.0
Safety: 3.5/5.0
Behind the wheel: 4.5/5.0
X-factor: 4.0/5.0

About our ratings

-- Best of breed
It wasn't long ago we were driving the new Range Rover Sport in the rugged Scotland Uplands; testing its mettle in demanding offroad conditions powered by the supercharged V8 petrol engine and the 3.6-litre diesel version. Less than 12 months later, LR has a better oiler offering -- a "super diesel" no less -- in its 4.4-litre V8 engine which is more powerful, more efficient and faster.

Already best-of-breed in the luxury stakes, the 11MY Range Rover Vogue has been fitted with high-end comfort features for rear passengers which help support its status as a limousine. Not that the top-shelf RR misses out on any of Land Rover's serious four-wheel drive gear, as we experienced during a decent offroad excursion in sunny, dusty Portugal.

Buyers can expect this from what's esteemed as the world's best 4WD brand. Same goes for prize appointment regarding passenger comfort. It's the new drivetrain that's standout and the fact it has racked LR's first 'officially' efficient offering. Take that, greenies.

-- More for more
Land Rover Australia (LRA) has yet to determine pricing for the new Vogue diesel model but expect a five-figure premium over the 3.6-litre version, for around $170K. LRA says the manufacturer's list price will be announced closer to the Vogue's local launch: late November at the earliest.

Front passengers have always been treated well in a Range Rover, with good outwards vision, space and mod-cons. Now rear passengers have seating comfort features resembling those offered in the back of a grand German saloon (see PACKAGING) but the new features add to the price.

A large electrically opened and closed sunroof comes standard, and extends generously over the second row, making the Vogue's leather and timber bedecked interior even more inviting. In terms of standard fit, the list is long and luxuriant including high-end sat-nav and stereo system, inbuilt hard disk drive, voice recognition, electrically adjustable front seats, electric open/close tailgate and TFT widescreen. Simply, the Vogue lacks for nothing in the equipment stakes. There are myriad comfort and convenience features, and what isn't auto (lights, wipers, climate control, drive and suspension systems) doesn't really count. See the RR Sport link for more details.

The 11MY Range Rover Vogue comes with a choice of five new alloy wheel designs and can be ordered with an optional exterior design pack offering eight colours. The exterior package was designed to allow customers more personalisation of their Vogue, says LR.

-- Bigger, better
The new eight-cylinder 4.4-litre turbodiesel, rated at 230kW/700Nm, is dimensionally larger than the outgoing 3.6-litre version. The oil filter, oil cooler and gas recirculation system are integrated in one unit; positioned in the unit's V to compensate fit.

The turbodiesel uses a sequential system incorporating a medium-sized turbine -- chosen over a large version for benefits in response -- with another, smaller blower operating most of the time. The arrangement reduces pumping losses, almost eliminates lag and helps overall efficiency ratings. The sequential system is more efficient than series turbocharger set-up, LR says. The engine's real world performance and economy backs up the boffins claims.

The 4.4-litre TDV8 is matched to Land Rover's eight-speed automatic transmission. It's a good match to the engine's prompt (max Nm by 1500rpm) and long-held torque delivery, and can be operated using the standard-fit paddle shift or a central dial.

The new ZF 'box is the first eight-speeder LR has applied to its vehicles and is partly responsible for the reduction in fuel consumption.

Detailed changes within the engine include the adoption of ceramic glowplugs to replace the outgoing engine's steel versions for higher temp, better efficiency and longer operation. According to LR, the extra duration after start-up contributes to the EU 5 rated engine's efficiency (9.4L/100km) and reduces emissions (253g/km). The 3.6-litre unit used 11.1L/100km at 294g/km CO2.

The Vogue also uses LR's Idle Transmission Control function, which disengages 70 per cent of drive while idling and stationary, to further boost economy.

Economics aside, this Vogue is fast -- 0-100km/h in 7.8sec -- and therefore comes with the supercharged version's Brembo braking system: six-piston calipers, 380mm front rotors and 356mm at the rear. The 4.4-litre Vogue comes standard with 19-inch alloys but 20-inch versions are available.

-- Class out back
New model year changes include significant rear accommodation upgrades which give the Vogue limousine-like credentials. In fact, LR bods at the launch said Chinese RR buyers had indicated theirs would find duty at the hands of chauffeurs. The RR is also the preferred ground transport for the likes of secret agents and bodyguards escorting VIPs. We know because we've met them...

Adjustable (reclining) rear seating, with heating, cooling, winged head restraints and lumbar support, and privacy glass are now offered. The standard-fit climate control system works to great effect throughout the cabin and rear passengers can adjust settings.

Exterior updates are slight, with the 10MY Range Rover introducing the major restyle such as LED head and taillights. The 11MY Vogues sport a new grille and the new diesel model can be identified by new side vents.

Stylists at LR face a challenge with the utility-oriented brief they've had to work with for decades. Four of them now. Additions to the brand's line up like the Evoque proves the company has style flair but we've yet to see that in the mainstream Discovery or 'usual' Range Rovers.

It's still a rather obnoxious-looking car that has and may further endure ridicule, despite how capable and suitable it actually is. This was one of the late Spencer King's -- father of the Range Rover -- pains and is still referred to by brand stalwarts.

To that end, a limited run of top-spec Autobiography 'Black' models will be made available; 711 to be precise. They come with exclusive interior trim choices and other adornments. Alas, if you're not already on the order list you'll need to learn to love the Vogue as it is. The 'Black' cars are all but sold out worldwide and the allocation for Australia is already spoken for.

We can probably expect more style indulgences from LR, however. During the launch company spokesmen told the Carsales Network that LR's best-yet product lineup was unfolding and ownership under Tata had allowed a reinvestment on profit. No more running lean on Ford's money, in short.

For cargo dimensions, see the 10MY Sport review.

-- No compromises, on or off road
Of all offroad vehicles, Land Rovers are 'safest'. The brand accommodates latest safety standards and will tell you features like its All-Terrain System and enhancements like hill start assist and its Gradient Acceleration Control are "designed to provide safety", not just a fuss-free offroad experience.

Like the Sport, the new Vogue comes standard with full size driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger side and head airbags and rear outboard passenger head airbags, antilock with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, traction control and stability control and understeer control.

-- Best, bar none
As with the Sport model, contenders include Porsche Cayenne, BMW's X5 and X6 offshoot, and Mercedes-Benz's ML and GL.  Of the above, only the first-gen Cayenne and the Benz GL have low-range gearing standard. To add the functionality to an ML you must specify Mercedes-Benz's OFFROAD Engineering Pro Pack -- a hefty investment.

In reality the Vogue's appeal to many has little to do with its offroad ability. In this aspect it is often shopped against the likes of BMW's 7 Series and Benz's S-Class. The latest rear seat upgrades make the big RR an even more attractive prospect for these sorts of buyers.

-- Great eights
The Vogue most often finds its job on bitumen so LR gave us highways, arterial roads and even winding narrow lanes. In the latter scenario, we were relieved the big offroader had such square bodylines and pliable steering that it was able to easily wind through Porto's mountain village 'streets' once assigned to goat carts. We'll get back to you on lock-to-lock ratio but it's as nimble as any urbanite needs in a carpark and well weighted at highway speeds.

At all times the Vogue was responsive in twisty stuff which formed a good part of the drive route. Body roll is noticeable but contained, and cornering can be smooth as a sedan's. When pushed, the big wagon will remain direct and predictable. There's none of the lurching or secondary movement on its long travel suspension that you once had to accept in older Rangies.

The 4.4 V8 Vogue is quickly up to speed with hefty mid-gear urge. You can 'feel' the weight -- all 2.5-plus tonne of it -- but the engine doesn't have trouble hauling it around. Its sub-2000 revs delivery and combined sweet spot between 3000 and 4000rpm avails good response off the line followed by a nice load of power where you need it most. Rapid acceleration is always on tap

The new eight-speed makes the most of this low to mid-range power. It will hold a gear even while in a slight ascent and at cruising speed, rather than running up and down the cogs due to the wider selection like some multi-gearboxes we've tried in other applications. The auto is also keen to downshift.

We drove an hour-long offroad track which efficiently showed-off the Vogue's abilities, such as its willingness to take a mud bath to the gills and climb a steep, sandy hill which called in the newly added hill ascent and gradient acceleration controls. No problem.

Unlike the course we drove last year with the Sport and Disco in Scotland, the Vogue's Portuguese sidetrack required offroad rubber. LR told us the notchy Goodyears were designed especially for the Vogue's use offroad but in our experience the Sport covered equally treacherous terrain on its highway rubber, without punctures or tow.

Back on the road, the climate control worked well in Portugal's 30-plus weather and the sat-nav was always on the ball. Some others we've tried can be late to call a corner but LR's is quick and information via the wide TFT screen is easily read.

Seating front and rear is generous and will suit a family for a long time, as children won't be cramped for space as they grow. Headroom is ample all round and even without the optional rear seating package, passengers have good leg and feet space.

It's the drive that will win over owners. The new diesel engine is consumption-conscious but powerful -- and sounds it -- and the latest transmission offering (expect to see it elsewhere) is a good, modern match. LR is indeed on its way.

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Published : Thursday, 22 July 2010

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