A Touch Of Class | Range Rover Vogue TDV6

BY Azfar Hashim

A diesel Range Rover was probably unheard of here, but it actually works well; with class.

Photos by Azfar Hashim

When you think Range Rover, the first thing that comes to mind has to be British opulence.

But when you think of opulence, you do not associate it with diesel as diesel is always seen as “a poor man’s fuel” in a country full of snobbish dieselphobes like ours. Which is why diesel powered cars are still not being widely embraced, and mostly limited only to taxis and commercial fleets.

So… if you are one of those dieselphobes who will never appreciate the benefits of modern diesel-powered cars, perhaps you can stop reading here. Goodbye.

BUT if you have an open mind and are well informed, let’s carry on.

What you have here is the Range Rover TDV6, the alloy-bodied king of SUV with a diesel-powered heart. Under the bonnet lies a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine, and mated to a ZF supplied 8-speed automatic transmission, is capable of churning out 258 bhp and - here’s the better bit - 600 Nm from just 2,000 rpm. Come to think of it, you cannot help but wonder whether it is sufficient to pull all that 2,115 kg of metal; but with a century sprint timing of 7.6 seconds, you should probably think to yourself, “Hmm… That’s alright” (the 16-kg lighter petrol equivalent does it in 7.2 seconds though).

The TDV6 Vogue gets a dial as a gear shifter instead of the conventional stick seen in the Sport

And if you are expecting things to work at a slower pace, the surprise here is that the wave of torque kicks in rather quickly and without a hint of struggle once past 1,500 rpm; it must be quite a sight for other motorists to see this giant of an SUV roll into the distance with the driver laughing away in a sinister manner…

The constant availability of power is more obvious out on the expressway, as it cruises on the fastest lane with traffic giving way without even having to demand for it (of course with a face and stance like that, who wouldn’t?). Give the accelerator pedal an extra prod and the transmission will easily downshift to 6 or 7, giving you the adequate amount of pick up to overtake or close the gap. However, the Achilles heel is when you have to come to a complete halt and then pick up speed again; the transmission does need some time to figure itself out and you do feel the weight bogging this luxury SUV down a tad.

Speaking of brakes, the Rangie here comes fitted with a fine set of anchors that are dependably efficient at cutting speed. While most large SUVs behave nervously when given a hard stomp on the center pedal from three figure speeds, here, it does so without any signs of fade, although the nose dives further than an X5 M50d.

Handling wise, the Rangie can still negotiate wide corners with gusto. But as it turns tighter, mild understeer does make its presence felt on top of the body movements becoming more apparent; true that four wheel drive is present, but with a height of 1.8-meters, well, there’s no way to escape the law of physics. A saving grace, however, is that the steering feels sorted.

While handling like a sports car is not the intended purpose, it delivers the sort of comfort level that should be able to give the S-Class something to think about. Ahh… One benefit of air suspension. Oh yes, with air suspension, the Rangie’s height can be raised and lowered via a button; bringing it all the way down makes getting in and out of the car less dramatic (at least you don’t need a ladder), while raising it to the highest setting allows for additional off-road capability.

Interior wise, the Rangie oozes British class on top of the top-notch (no pun intended) build quality. The seats are all comfortable, but if you are smaller built, getting comfortable in the driver’s seat would need some getting used to. Our test car here came fitted with premium Meridian sound system; you can set it up conveniently according to your preference. If - like me - you’re the sort who prefers maximum treble and mid-level bass, this system should be perfect.

Summing up the luxurious cabin is the wood — real wood, mind you — inserts. After all when you think of ‘class’, nothing else beats it with wood on the dashboard, center console and doors; it matches and works well without looking too brash. ‘Elegant’ is the best word to describe it.

As a whole, the Range Rover TDV6 blends first-class comfort, luxury, fuel economy and road presence all in one package. Ok, so it is not exactly the most economical diesel SUV around, but at least you do not have to visit the petrol station often as compared to its petrol equivalent; in fact, any other petrol-driven large SUV.

Definitely a good alternative to drivers who do not need the sportiness offered by the BMW X5 M50d…