Indeed, if you’re looking for an intriguing British alternative to a Bentley Flying Spur, the big Range Rover is a compelling choice.
That’s been reinforced for the 2010 model year, which has helped create the best Range Rover there has ever been. On offer is a level of personalisation that’s almost an equal of, well, Bentley, plus a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine that would almost stand scrutiny with a Flying Spur.
More than likely, it will share garage space with our other new road test this month, the Bentley Mulsanne. It’s a mark of how far Range Rover has come that buyers of one automatically consider the other. As well, not instead of…
Despite the appeal of 500bhp, though, Car Dealer Magazine decided to be sensible for once, and instead tested the 3.6-litre TDV8 diesel. This is probably the best-seller of the range and gives the big Range Rover, which was launched in current guise back in 2002, the power to back up its size.
It’s an engine not shared with other Land Rovers, which helps keep it a class apart. It’s also a total delight to use, giving you all the loved V8 potency, a pretty convincing V8 burble and loads of surging, never-ending pulling power. It really does enhance the classy air and surging refinement yet more. Coupled to a smart six-speed auto, this V8 is probably the choice engine in the Range Rover.
Compared to the old BMW Td6 that lingered for too long in the Range Rover, it’s a class apart. Given all this extra pace, those driving it as if there’s still a Td6 under the bonnet will be glad of another change Land Rover has introduced – bigger brakes.
They’re derived from the Range Rover Sport and stop the big beast as well as it now goes. There is more cornering safety too, with enhanced ESP including understeer detection and rollover stability control.
The ride quality really marks it out, with air suspension giving a smooth, flowing quality that flattens everything beneath it and isolates passengers with regal comfort.
It may, surprisingly, suffer a tiny bit in town, due to the larger alloy wheels, but it’s all relative really. Generally, it’s a very plush thing indeed. Air suspension also means it’s height adjustable, should the step up into the huge vehicle be too much.
Handling is well controlled in corners, due to the air suspension’s computer trickery, but the steering is not mega-sharp around straight-ahead.
It does also have a fair bit of initial lean into bends, before everything is stiffened up: combined with the size of the Range Rover, it’s not going to be a thing you’ll be throwing about.
Besides, there’s too much to play with inside. The 2010 model has a cool hi-res TFT colour display screen in the dash for one: drivers will see sat nav directions, while passengers, on the same screen, can watch DVDs.
This 2-in-1 brilliance is complemented by a new electronic dial pack, which is just plain amazing to stare at. Fiddle with the enhanced off-road Terrain Response settings and all these will be showing in the instruments, too. It’s quite something.
As is, indeed, the centre console itself: with all this equipment comes a load of buttons, which means it’s pretty intimidating at first. Never mind. The Autobiography we tested offset it all with bespoke interior trims and details, plus a decadent leather rooflining. This was added to the Vogue SE’s distance-sensing cruise control, and the Vogue’s standard sat nav and Logic 7 stereo. There’s no shortage of kit.
We loved it. Special to drive, it’s the true off-road Bentley. Life begins at 40? Thanks to a well judged and timely facelift, it appears so…