HOW apt to be writing this road test in the first week of January, when the excesses of the festive period are still making their presence felt in my head and around my waistline.
Excess is a word which often comes to mind when I think of the Range Rover. It’s big, it’s expensive, it guzzles fuel and spews out CO2 emissions – everything it does, it does on an excessive scale.
It’s a two-fingered salute to the prevailing mood of enviro-thrift – emitting less, recycling more, cutting back on spending.
Never mind that the new V8 diesel-engined version costs more than £60,000, never mind that it returns a claimed 25mpg (although in the real world we managed a figure in the mid-teens), and never mind that it will cost £51,000 for a fleet to run over three years/60,000 miles.
Why never mind? Because the Rangie has never been a logical choice as a company car. If the managing director wants one, he or she will have one because it is, in many ways, the ultimate status machine.
Not only does it say that money is no object, but it does it in a classy way – even though it is big it manages not to be brash at the same time.
The new V8 diesel, a twin-turbocharged unit producing 272bhp, replaces the 2.7-litre V6 engine in the Range Rover, offering a much-needed 98bhp power boost.
This engine has given the Range Rover the level of performance that it should have had from day one and allows it to make far more serene progress than was afforded with the old engine.
As well as being quicker off the line, in the mid-range the extra 184lb-ft of torque (up to 472lb-ft) makes for impressive overtaking power.
But it’s not just the extra performance which is impressive. The level of refinement engineered into the new car is amazing.
On the move the engine is barely audible, and wind roar is well suppressed for such a blocky shape.
Dynamically, the Rangie is at the mercy of its high centre of gravity, which means it still can’t hold the road as well as a conventional saloon.
However, with its 19-inch wheels and revised suspension settings for a stiffer set-up, it handles much better than before. None of which impacts on ride quality, which retains that floaty feel of sitting high above the wheels.
All of which is even more impressive when you factor in the level of off-road ability every Land Rover product must have. This machine will venture on to the most inhospitable terrain and glide its way through, giving it an extra dimension should owners want to take it off road.
P11D value: £61,042
CO2 emissions (g/km): 299
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 35%
Graduated VED rate: £215
Insurance group: 17
Combined mpg: 25.1
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £23,300/38%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £1,138
We don’t like:
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
THE BMW is the odd one out here, not only by being significantly cheaper but also because it has a six-cylinder diesel engine, compared to the V8 units and four-wheel drive in the other three. The GL, which dwarfs even the Range Rover, is the most expensive.
EMISSIONS AND TAX RATES
THE 730d has a clear advantage here thanks to a smaller engine, lower price and no four-wheel drive hardware. It will cost a 40% taxpayer £597 a month in benefit-in-kind tax, compared with £703 for the Audi, £712 for the Range Rover and £733 for the GL420 CDI.
NONE of these cars is going to be cheap to maintain over a fleet lifecycle, as all four come from prestige brands and therefore attract higher garage rates than volume models. Tyres also contribute heavily – they require a lot of rubber to cover their 19-inch wheels.
RR: 5.40 (ppm) £3,240 (60,000 miles total)
730d: 6.19 £3,714
GL420: 6.62 £3,972
A8: 6.85 £4,110
ANOTHER win for the BMW, with the 730d claimed to return 34.4mpg combined, which equates to a diesel bill of £7,300 over 60,000 miles. The Audi on 30.1mpg will cost £1,000 more while the Range Rover and GL are well off the pace on 25.1 and 23.9mpg respectively.
730d: 12.14 (ppm) £7,284 (60,000 miles total)
A8: 13.87 £8,322
RR: 16.64 £9,984
GL420: 17.48 £10,488
DESPITE being the most expensive at the front-end, the Mercedes-Benz wins this sector. Very limited supply means CAP reckons the GL420 will retain 43% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles, ahead of the Range Rover on 38%, the Audi on 33% and the BMW on 32%.
GL420: 59.53 (ppm) £35,718 (60,000 miles total)
730d: 61.45 £36,870
RR 62.90 £37,740
A8 66.91 £40,146
WITH by far the cheapest front-end price and the lowest fuel bills, the BMW will be the cheapest to run over three years/60,000 miles, coming in just under the 80 pence-per-mile mark. The two SUVs are closely matched, while heavy depreciation kills the A8’s challenge.
730d: 79.78 (ppm) £47,868 (60,000 miles total)
GL420: 83.63 £50,178)
RR: 84.94 £50,964)
A8: 87.63 £52,578
UNUSUALLY, this verdict is not based on our usual system of weighing up the pros and cons of a model in both driving and running costs terms.
After all, at this stratospheric level of cost, the difference between 80 and 90 pence per mile is somewhat irrelevant. All four cars here offer a wealth of talents which would make most MDs happy.
But simply none put it all together in quite the same way as the Range Rover. It has class, style, amazing ability, and now decent performance thanks to a new engine.
The Rangie is peerless.