My friend who owns a Land Rover taught me a phrase that best describes the brand and its offerings (and the British car industry in general): “It’s British, not broken.”
It was a cheeky yet polite manner of describing the quirks of owning something from Old Blighty, like how the British are quirky themselves. And believe me, the Brits are an eccentric lot. They keep on apologizing until it becomes annoying, say satirical and sarcastic jokes with a very straight poker face, and name food with sexual references (spotted dick, anyone?).
And yet we admire how cool, composed, reserved and sophisticated these people are. Take for instance, the unflappable James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Or the era-defining music of The Beatles. Or Paul Smith’s iconic fashion.
To this, we can add the Range Rover. Back in 1969—long before SUVs were in vogue—it was the only truly capable steed of choice for the well-heeled who wanted to gallivant around in the mud. The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen would not come out until 10 years later as a civilized military vehicle. The Toyota Land Cruiser and the Jeep Wrangler also trace their roots to the armed forces. Only the Range Rover was born a noble birth.
The Range Rover Vogue has a 3.0-liter turbodiesel putting out 254hp and 600Nm driving all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the proverbial rolling-castle stature, the Vogue accelerates from rest to 100km/h in eight seconds, and will go all the way to a terminal velocity of 209km/h.
It remains as fashionable today as it was during its introduction with gray accents contrasting with the bold-white bodywork. This is actually the second Range Rover I’ve tried—the previous one being blue in color and equally awe-inspiring. It rides on massive 21-inch alloy wheels, and is supported by height- and damping-adjustable self-leveling air suspension all around.
The Range Rover is equipped with sophisticated off-road assistance software called Terrain Response. This system conditions the differentials, the suspension settings and the safety systems (ABS, traction control and stability control) to deliver performance optimized for a particular type of terrain. The air suspension gives as much as 297mm of ground clearance, allowing the Range Rover to tackle medium-difficulty off-road trails. The maximum wading depth of 900mm will be very handy in floods and river crossings.
Inside, the Range Rover is a treat for the senses. The dark-blue leather seats are complemented by piano-black and machined-aluminum trim, and cream-colored door sidings. You rarely see interiors this classy yet restrained and refined like German cars. Twenty-way adjustable front seats meet the occupants, and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel means drivers will easily find their ideal position.
A network of 19 Meridian speakers enhances the infotainment system. Although this particular unit lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Land Rover Philippines assured us that the next batch of imports would have them standard. Thankfully, a 360° camera with parking sonar will help you maneuver your way in and out of tight spots. It helps that the Range Rover has a turning radius of 6.15m. You also get 900L of cargo space in the rear, but a touch of a button folds down the second-row seats and expands capacity to 1,694L.
On the open road, the Range Rover absolutely flies. The air suspension soaks up all the bumps and the ruts, capably dismissing the dirt roads in and around Cavite and Batangas. Floor the throttle and it accelerates in the same way as the Airbus A380 superjumbo unleashes the thrust from its four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines (another British engineering marvel)—literally taking your breath away and overtaking everything in its path.
The sheer sight of such an imposing yet maneuverable SUV must be quite unnerving to other motorists. They found themselves slowing down to let me through as I seemed to have no problems passing on the expressway and even on narrow, two-lane provincial highways. I saw a few Toyota Land Cruiser 200s and they could not keep up with the Range Rover’s poise and athleticism. An Audi Q7 may be just as capable dynamically, but it simply doesn’t have the road presence of the Vogue. The massive brakes were more than a match for the grunt, delivering consistent, well-modulated, progressive and fade-free performance even with four adults and their gear onboard.
The Range Rover Vogue is timelessly beautiful, well-equipped, iconic and surprisingly good to drive. It bears all the hallmarks of a true British icon.