After 12 months and nearly 23,000 miles, it’s time to draw a conclusion from my time living with our Range Rover. My view is that it really is the best of British, so it seemed only right to take it along to meet another British icon, the Supermarine Spitfire, which sits proudly at RAF Northolt in West London – a site I drive past twice a day on my commute into London.
I know luxury motoring isn’t about economy, but I have to start with the car’s fuel consumption. Given how much of my journey is spent in stop-start traffic, my current average of 34.5mpg is exceptional. Sure, a lot of the miles have been covered on motorway trips to football in Liverpool and family in Lincolnshire, but getting so close to the claimed average of 38mpg is pretty rare.
Much of that is down to the aluminium construction of the Range Rover, which, as well as saving weight, helps the big SUV feel surprisingly wieldy on the road. That’s impressive, but this car is really about style, sophistication, refinement, comfort and imperious ability over any terrain.
I went off-road a few times, and the juxtaposition of sitting in the most luxurious surroundings, with pretty inhospitable terrain outside, really plays with your head. There are few cabins as smart or as well appointed as the Range Rover’s; it’s just a shame the slow and dated touchscreen lets the side down.
But how easy was it for my family of five to live with? Well, the wide rear bench will easily cope with three adult- sized kids, and we regularly managed to fill the boot with luggage and dogs, although the drop-down lower section of the tailgate makes retrieving items from the very back a bit awkward. I’ve no need to use it as a seat, so a one-piece tailgate would be better, if less traditional.
Driving the Range Rover is a serene experience, and I’ve regularly covered around 400 miles behind the wheel in a day. Seat cooling and massaging help, but generally it’s the quietness and supple ride that pamper you most of all.
I’ve only been mildly frustrated with the 3.0-litre V6 diesel’s response away from a standstill, but there’s plenty of power for overtaking. It hasn’t been all plain sailing, although my only problem with the car was a ‘charging system fault’ warning light. Other than that small issue, my Range Rover has behaved impeccably. That’s not the case with every owner, though – common problems we’ve heard about include suspension creaks.
However, it’s a measure of the car that most owners seem happy to overlook some gremlins and enjoy the Range Rover for what it is: one of the best examples of British engineering. After a year of premium motoring, it remains my luxury car of choice.
Range Rover TDV6 Autobiography: report 5
Premium Range Rover SUV is perfect companion for a posh short break
Mileage: 16,355 miles
Real world fuel economy: 32.5mpg
It’s been a busy couple of months for my Range Rover – so much so, the mileage has shot past the 16,000 mark, meaning service time. More of that in a bit, but the highlight of the past few thousand miles criss-crossing the country was a family holiday to North Yorkshire.
We went to stay at Studford Lodges not far from Thirsk on the edge of the North York Moors. There are a lot of similarities between the Lodges and my Range Rover: top-quality fixtures and fittings, comfort and quiet, and a great view out from a high-up seating position.
Just like my Range Rover, Studford is a fine example of British cool – something I enjoy every day when I look at my car: there’s always a design feature to savour.
Studford Lodges’ owner Rob Fawcett also runs a Range Rover – his is the Sport model, with the same 3.0-litre V6 diesel as our car. Surprisingly for a pair of ex-boy racers (Rob runs Redline Racing, which races – and wins – in the Porsche Carrera Cup), our conversation wasn’t about 0-60mph times, but economy – Rob says he often touches 40mpg in his car, while my current average of 32.5mpg (and still climbing) impresses the heck out of me.
My car isn’t the Sport model, but it still felt sprightly on Yorkshire’s twists and hills. Then there’s the traditional Range Rover forte of being able to go where no other luxury car dare tread. This time, though, we left it in the car park to tackle some serious off-road courses in one of Yorkshire Outdoors’ Defenders. But back on the road, one thing I noticed was how many Land Rovers there were up in Yorkshire. It felt like I was on an owners’ club rally.
Had I planned ahead, I might have saved a few quid by getting a service up North. As it was, I returned to North One in London, which serviced the Evoque we used to run on our fleet. Once again, it was efficient, but £417 is steep for what’s little more than an oil change – especially when the oil cost almost as much as the labour.
North One also completed four software upgrades that were due. This left me without the car for more than the scheduled day. You expect such updates on complex modern vehicles like the Range Rover, but I was surprised how long they took. Still, as usual, my car was returned valeted – as it should be for that price.
I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference to the car post-service. It continues to run impeccably and is a real pleasure to pilot. It’s no surprise I barely notice the number of miles I’m driving these days.
Get the full in-depth verdict on the Range Rover here
Range Rover TDV6 Autobiography: report 4
After nine months on fleet, it's back to school for Range Rover report four as our man’s kids get driving lessons on the road and off it
Mileage: 12,496 miles
Real world fuel economy: 32.2mpg
Nine months into our Range Rover ownership, and it’s had quite an effect on the Fowler household. So much so that my kids have become brand advocates – they love everything Land Rover. My 15-year-old daughter is even eyeing up a Defender for her first car.
So when Land Rover announced its Start Off-Road Experience for 11-17-year- olds, it was something I was pestered into trying. With prices starting from just £43 for 30 minutes, it’s more affordable and arguably more fun than many of the other car park-based young driver programmes. And with me being me, I couldn’t resist taking my Range Rover along for good measure. Gemma’s a bit of an old hand at driving already, but this was 13-year-old Harry and Jack’s first time behind the wheel. Beginning your driving career in a Range Rover Evoque is a pretty good place to start.
What pleased the kids most was the relaxed way the instructors taught them – it felt as far away from the classroom as possible, even though the venue, the West London Shooting School near Northolt, Middlesex, is only 10 miles from home. After a short safety briefing and gentle initiation on the flat, it was on to the rough stuff.
I rode in the back of an Evoque during the initial training, but afterwards I followed in my Range Rover. The air-suspension and raised ride height made what was a bumpy ride in the Evoque silky smooth in my car.
Even during a downpour and over the roughest stuff, my Range Rover just clambered over the seriously horrible terrain on standard road tyres, without having to adjust the Terrain Response system into any of the manual modes – I left it in automatic and let the car’s brain work everything out for me.
And this is one of the wonders of Range Rover ownership – you have this juxtaposition of inhospitable terrain the car just rolls over, while you sit in a cabin trimmed like the finest drawing room.
Back in everyday use, the whole Fowler family appreciates the space and comfort in the Range Rover. As for me up front, I’m really enjoying the power, refinement and quick reactions of the V6 diesel (why would you need the V8?). Plus, fuel economy has gone up to a highly reasonable 32.2mpg – in spite of a daily commute into central London.
After a couple of early electronic blips, my car is behaving well, too, and the Meridian audio system just gets better. So all is good with the Range Rover experience, although my kids will have to learn that life for them as first car owners will be very different…
Such is the way of the world these days that going home, delving into my vinyl record collection and sitting back and listening to some music just doesn’t happen any more. My love of music and quality audio systems remains, though, which is why a decent stereo in my car is an absolute must – as it is for most of today’s car buyers.
Thanks to those clever folk at Apple, pretty much my entire music collection comes everywhere with me these days – and plugs perfectly into the audio system in our Range Rover TDV6.
I opted for the rather extravagant, but utterly astonishing, Meridian Signature Reference System in my car for £4,000. So I decided to visit Meridian headquarters in England’s hi-fi valley in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, to find out more about what makes my car’s system so special.
Meridian has been producing top-end audio systems for 37 years, combining clever engineering with innovative design – not unlike Land Rover. I was treated to a
demo of the £65,000 home audio system and a personal performance inside the company’s own cinema room – not unlike the Meridian theatre I’d experienced at Land Rover’s handover centre at the Solihull factory.
Meridian systems have been used by musicians and movie makers around the world, and I can understand why. Whether it’s in the cinema, in front of the home audio system or in my car, I’d describe the sound as natural – just as the artist intended.
The Range Rover features an incredible 1,700 watts of power and 29 speakers everywhere from under the driver’s seat to the rooflining. Plus, as is the Meridian way, numerous clever electronics control the sound, upscale the compressed music from my iPhone and direct it around the car.
Some surround systems can sound false with sonic gaps as different musical elements are sent to the different speakers. But using Meridian’s Trifield 3D tech, it sounds smoother, richer and more enveloping. It’s very clever and very enjoyable.
As art director Darren Wilson said when he borrowed the car recently, you discover bits in music tracks you’ve never heard before. While the sound is faultless, the bit Land Rover does – the touchscreen interface – lets the side down. It’s dated, fiddly to use and doesn’t look as premium as the rest of the car.
I’ve also had a warning light appear on the dash claiming there was a charging system fault. The car seemed fine, but it’s taken two software updates to cure the problem. Other than that, my Range Rover has behaved perfectly. The quality of the fixtures and fittings is first rate, the comfort is incredible – especially the sumptuous head restraints – and refinement is top-notch.
This is one seriously pampering car. While my car was having its second software update, it was swapped for the V8 version. Good though that is, I’d always recommend the more frugal and sweeter V6. It may lack some of the oomph of the V8, but is certainly swift enough and has better throttle response, too.The engine also sounds pretty good, although that’s when I haven’t got the stereo system turned up – the Meridian system really is one to experience and enjoy very loud!
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