Tested: Range Rover Vogue SE SDV8

The opulent essence

So it has come to this. All that hard work, the clever manipulation, a loaded great-aunt and/or six lucky numbers have gifted you a bulging bank account. Now it’s time to buy a set of proper wheels and you just can’t escape the Range Rover. Allow me to assist with the help of a Vogue SE SDV8.

Range Rovers are just the business and you know it. Most Hollywood stars have one, Dubai and other new-money spots are crawling with the stuff, they hang around country mansions and appear to sprout on polo fields, while the Queen regularly makes use of them. You see, One does not drive rubbish.

This sense of belonging to an elite, much like the feeling of having arrived before you do, is what positively radiates from a Range Rover. This latest model was launched in 2012 and while some landed gentry bemoans it sleek styling and bewildering technology, the opulent essence of the Range Rover remains.

Their steep asking price and intricate nature means they suffer the same nose-drive depreciation and hair-raising maintenance costs as an S-Class Mercedes after a few years but even that has its advantages. The riff-raff can’t afford to run an ageing Rangey so, as far as I can tell, they simply vanish when spent.

Back to your big bank account and this new Range Rover though, which also sets itself apart from nouveau riche stuff like X5’s and Cayennes by having proper pedigree and muck-plugging roots. Born in 1970, this is only the fourth version of a serious off-road machine with luxury trimmings.

Armed with Land Rover’s latest Terrain Response system, this SUV can either detect off-road conditions automatically or be set up for sand, mud, rocks and other obstacles by means of a rotary knob. This arms the car’s air suspension height, low-range transfer box and throttle response to suit your needs.

Sold in either standard or long wheel-base, prices start at N$1,514,600 with a choice of trim levels (Vogue, Vogue SE or Autobiography, Black) and three engines driving prices beyond two million Rand. Although fitted with dazzling luxury features, most models can also be ordered with even pricier optional extras.

This Vogue SE derivative is available with an incredibly thirsty and wild 5-liter 375kW supercharged petrol V8 or – as in this case – a more civilized 4.4-liter 250kW turbo-diesel V8. Order the former if you can’t be bothered about devastating fuel consumption and take pleasure in embarrassing hot hatches.

Our SDV8 motor makes a more sensible case for itself by offering superior torque and considerably less thirst than the petrol engine. Added to that, it’s nowhere near boring because it generates a pleasing V8 howl as it glides through the velvet-soft gear changes of its eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Mash the far right pedal into that thick carpet and this beast will take off with vigor, its front end lifting slightly as it passes 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 6.9 seconds. In another demonstration of its magnificence, our best time was only 0.07 seconds slower (Racelogic Performance Box verified).

Equally impressive is the car’s high-speed stability, cornering and braking ability – considering its heft. Feather-light to pilot with hatchback-like reactions, the new Range Rover belies its size and often ignores the laws of physics as it graciously settles into bends or casually floats around a city corner.

Most of that is due to clever engineering, weight saving materials and active technology but also the standard 20-inch wheels fitted to this car. Alarmingly, you can only size up to 22 inches – which would make serious off-roading and the thought of a puncture near Grünau even more frightening.

Then again, at that point you’ll probably call for a chopper to collect you while “your people” contact “their people” and sort everything out. Soon afterwards you should be back inside the Rover with its opulent dimensions, exquisite materials, amazing insulation and state-of-the-art features.

I won’t go into more details as the list of goodies seems endless and the choice of colours equally so, just know that not once did someone want for anything in our test car. Even its price, complex infotainment system or humungous size didn’t discourage fans – they were too busy purring and smiling.

In fact, because you’re getting such a bulky behemoth in exchange for a sizable chunk of change, buying a Range Rover won’t hurt as much as the sports car which is half the size and twice the price. And let’s not forget: you’ll be in good company with one of the world’s most luxurious and versatile cars ever.



0-10km/h: 0.44 seconds
0-20km/h: 0.86 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.30 seconds
0-40km/h: 1.87 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.53 seconds
0-60km/h: 3.21 seconds
0-70km/h: 4.09 seconds
0-80km/h: 4.96 seconds
0-90km/h: 5.86 seconds
0-100km/h: 6.97 seconds
0-110km/h: 8.18 seconds
0-120km/h: 9.51 seconds
0-130km/h: 11.21 seconds
0-140km/h: 12.89 seconds

0-100m: 6.16 seconds @ 94.11km/h
0-200m: 9.51 seconds @ 120.29km/h
0-300m: 12.31 seconds @ 136.98km/h
0-400m: 14.82 seconds @ 149.82km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.73G

Altitude: 51m

Data captured with Racelogic® Performance Box

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