17 Jan 2014

2014 Range Rover SDV8 - All The Car You'll Ever Need

Normally when I've got a car for a week I'll write a piece called 'First impressions and gallery' but the 2014 Range Rover SDV8 deserves more than that.  It is indeed all the car you ever need.

2014 Range Rover SDV8

I've run the Range Rover for 3 days so far and covered 300 miles - 200 of which were at 70mph on the motorway and 100 of which were short journeys around country lanes.

Bear in mind the engine is a 4.4 litre V8 diesel with 339 bhp and 516 lb ft of torque, it does 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds and weighs 2360kg - and the average economy achieved over 300 miles is 28.8mpg.

That is an astonishing figure.

Normally I'd expect a big SUV with a diesel engine to return mid to low 20s mpg.  Even after 80 miles of purely short journeys around the lanes the economy was 24.6mpg.  On the motorway it was above 30mpg.

That's better than almost any hot hatch and 3 times better than a V8 petrol Range Rover, or AMG Merc or any other powerful, petrol engined SUV.

I'm not normally a fan of SUVs.  In fact the only ones I'd buy with my own money are the new Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90.  I'd spent an hour in a Range Rover previously and thought at the time the Sport was a butter buy, by dint of being cheaper.

But, honestly, the Range Rover, especially with the SDV8 engine, is the best SUV on the market.  And possibly the best car on the market.

The exterior is functional yet good looking.  The interior pulls off the same trick.  It feels special, but also as though it was built to live a hard life.  With the exception of the deep pile carpet all the interior surfaces are wipe clean - as well as being of the highest quality.
2014 Range Rover SDV8

The floor is flat so mud will fall out, and the doors extend right down to the sills so you don't get your trousers dirty.  The twin door tailgate opens electrically and the rear seats move electrically too.  The rear occupants get heated seats, TVs, cupholders, individual climate zones and lots of storage.

And then there's the off-road ability.  The air suspension is infinitely variable but has three standard settings.  The lowest height means my 11 year old can clamber into the passenger seat easily, the mid-setting is for the road and the high setting is for off-road.  There are several different settings for off-roading which alter the engine, suspension and diff locks.

I did a bit of light off-roading on an exceedingly muddy Welsh track on standard road tyres and it performed well.  The ride, which is superb on the road, remains refined even when splashing through deep potholes.

It will slide around on a wet field but use the low ratio gearbox and keep the speed low and it copes magnificently.

On the motorway it's almost Bentley-esque in its quietness and the adaptive cruise control never once called it a day, despite driving through the pouring rain.  Something neither Volvo nor Jaguar ACC systems I've previously tested could do.

The stereo is hugely powerful and connects to your phone via Bluetooth or the Aux cable (just ahead of the fridge and iPhone slot under the armrest).  I've heard Aerosmith's Rocks album hundreds of times before but discovered new subtleties to the usual din when played through the Meridien sound system.

The only downside to the Range Rover SDV8 Vogue SE is that it costs nearly £85k.

If I had the cash I'd buy one in a shot - and I wouldn't need any other car.

A full review will follow soon.
2014 Range Rover SDV8

By Matt Hubbard