Range Rover TDV8
19 September 2006
Range Rover TDV8
|Key rival:|| VW Touareg|
Range Rovers are always easy to find in car parks. Towering height aside, the luxury 4x4s have the uncanny ability of inhabiting large parking bays marked 'CEO' or 'MD'.
It's proof that senior management love them - but they're not alone. Paparazzi-dodging celebrities usually own one in discreet black with dark tinted windows, while professional footballers find that a Range Rover (in white and dark tints) perfectly complements a garage full of Italian exotica.
But as middle age looms for the model, Land Rover is under pressure to satisfy its loyal fans and halt the migration to other brands new offerings.
For the 2007 model year, the car gets fan-cooled seats, uprated aircon and Discovery's electronic handbrake and 4x4 Terrain Response that adjust the car's 4x4 hardware to differing slippery surfaces.
But best of all, Land Rover has finally retired the elderly BMW-sourced TD6 diesel for an all-new silky smooth 272PS diesel V8.
What was once the weakness in the range is now a star. Compared to the old one, the new engine, quite frankly, is a revelation, effortlessly wafting where the old worked hard. From idle you'll have to train your ears to tell it drinks diesel and on part throttle a delightful muted V8 burble emanates.
Thanks to an extra cog in the new six-seed gearbox, there's more than adequate go in every gear. In fact, now the diesel sprints to 60 in 8.5secs, only 1.4secs slower than the range-topping supercharged petrol.
The only criticism we had was that the gearbox was occasionally a little hesitant to kickdown and the manual override does not hold gears at redline.
With the extra go, Land Rover engineers have employed slightly stiffer springs to help things remain tied down. Body control is better, but there's still plenty of go when pushing on. Thankfully the ride remains cosseting, even with huge 20-inch wheels on the range-topping Vogue SE.
Inside, the cabin still feels special, although some of the materials used feel a little cheap. There's more storage space - the passenger airbag has moved, freeing up space for an extra glovebox - but, unfortunately, our car's glovebox was poorly fitted and reluctant to open. Rear passengers in the top model now also benefit from a screen fitted in the headrest.
Land Rover expects that 85% of all Range Rovers will be diesel-powered in the future and it's easy to see why. Averaging 25.1mpg on the combined cycle the car stretches an extra 140 miles from a tank, proving that even the financially flush opt for the black pump. After all, nobody likes wasting time on petrol forecourts.