A little while back, we made a video review about the new L460 Range Rover. It was based on the D350 diesel version and in it I made a statement: “This Ingenium straight-six diesel,” I alleged, “is absolutely fantastic; it is one of the best diesel engines on the market. Fact.” I’m not about to reverse ferret on that, either. It really is an absolute gem of a thing. And it raises an interesting question: is the D350 so good that there’s no point in buying the P530? After all, the flagship now comes with BMW’s N63 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, and we know that’s also a sublime thing with power and smoothness hardwired into its DNA.
Here's the thing, though. Harry, our photographer, made an off-the-cuff comment while we were out shooting pics of the P530 that started me thinking. He mentioned that his dad would never buy a diesel, because a car like this must come with a V8 that’s fuelled by gas not oil. It’s not an uncommon point of view, either. My friend Nick is the same. He loves his cars and over the years has owned some very special ones: Ferraris, Astons, Bentleys and Rollers to name but a few. And when it comes to Rangies, he would never buy a diesel. The idea just doesn't compute. Once, I was chatting to him and singing the praises of the diesel in an L322 and he stared at me like I was endorsing fascism.
So who’s right? Having now put the V8 through its paces, is its 20mpg average (if you're good) worth the sacrifice over the 40mpg I saw from the D350? Well, in a perfect example of reverse logic, I am not going to begin proceedings with the engine. Instead, it's the subtle differences in the ride and handling that I'd like to talk about first. I'm driving the P530 on largely the same roads that we used to shoot the D350 video, but that was several weeks ago. That makes comparing the two cars an inexact science. My brain is not a datalogger. No one’s is. This means I am not going to claim the differences I felt between the two cars are as clear-cut as they would've been were I driving them back to back – but that doesn't mean they're not worth mentioning.
The first concerns ride, which I reckon falls in favour of the V8. It seems to me this P530 is a little more comfortable than the D350. Now, both cars deliver magic-carpet levels of waft most of the time. Driving them around the Oxfordshire B roads, which are puckered like my mate Nick’s face when he thinks about DERV, the L460 is sublimely cosseting whatever is lurking under the bonnet. It rises and falls gracefully over the ups and downs of the road, and like a large boat in a sheltered bay, any movements are gentle. And it’s really quite a lovely experience – an experience that’s right on the money for the luxury beast that it is.
The issue I had with the diesel was over broken surfaces with sharp scars and deep potholes. Then it gets a tad crashy. Also, and this is a general L460 point rather than a specific one, the more time I have with them the less I'm convinced by its maker's claims of torsional rigidity. There is definitely some shudder through the body. Anyway, back to the comparison between diesel and petrol. The P530's ride still isn’t perfect, but does seem to me better. Less abrupt when the going gets tough, which you feel through what appears to be slightly superior wheel control.
Conversely, the P530 doesn’t seem to steer quite as well. While the D350’s steering is remote, by which I mean it isolates you from the graininess of the road surface – a good thing in a car like this – it still gives you a great sense of connection. That's down to the way it builds weight intuitively. I never found myself second-guessing my inputs through a series of bends. Yet driving the P530 around, I was. And struggling to strike up the same flow because it's a bit lighter around the straight-ahead and, therefore, that bit vaguer as you tip it into turns. The differences between the two cars are small, mind; I do want to emphasise that. And they're explainable because of the difference in weight over the nose – against convention, it’s the petrol that’s heavier than the diesel.
Otherwise, the two versions are similar. Take the rest of the handling. Whatever the engine, within reason you can still hustle this massive SUV along with ease because the standard 48-volt active anti-roll system gives it some stability. Just enough to stop the body bobbing about over uneven roads or lurching over on the outside wheels alarmingly during cornering. You cannot get carried away, though. Push on too hard and, as you can see in the pictures, it still lists like a scuttled ship and chirps its tyres easily enough. But that’s fine. It isn’t sporty and it’s not claiming to be.
Meanwhile, in town the Range Rover’s rear-wheel steering (another piece of standard kit) makes it astonishingly nimble. At low speeds this turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts by up to 7.2 degrees (that's a lot), so you can perform U-turns in just 10.95 metres (that's not a lot). It's something you can really feel happening as well. If you're pottering about the rear end whips round as you add the lock – as if the back wheels are castors and someone's giving the side of the car a good shove. But once you’re travelling at speed you don’t notice the rear-wheel steer at all. It just fades into the background, focusing on improving stability rather than agility by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts. It's very good.
The other area that's the same, regardless of engine, is the Range Rover's ability to divorce you from the rumble of the road beneath. I've still not driven an L460 with the optional noise cancelling tech, which uses speakers dotted throughout the interior, including in the headrests, to emit frequencies that cancel out NVH. But even without it, any noise from the tyres is minimal. At low speeds it's quieter than a church mouse that's lost its voice. Sadly, this makes it easier to hear the wind noise from the door mirrors. It chimes in at 50mph and gets progressively worse until 70mph. If you’re heading into the wind it’s a fairly consistent and ignorable flutter, but in a crosswind it becomes gustier and more aggravating. Oh, and a special mention for the brakes. The pedal feels soft and servoed but progressive, so you can pull up gracefully every time with just the lightest touch.
Inside they’re inseparable. The lofty driving position is agreeably premium and perfectly arranged to make driving stress free. And both the examples I’ve tried were Autobiographies, which means plush fittings and supremely comfortable seats in the front. These have every adjustment you can imagine and a multitude of massage functions to boot. The Autobiography also has electrically adjustable rear seats, which are just as appealing to sit on but, for such a huge car, the standard wheelbase Range Rover can only just accommodate my legs behind my driving position. There’s still some knee room to spare, but you measure it with a feeler gauge rather than a ruler. In the Range Rover’s defence, I have unfeasibly long legs and there’s a long-wheelbase model, of course, which is cavernous.
The infotainment system is, again, shared between the two versions. Some will say the large 13.1-inch floating touchscreen looks like an afterthought, but it’s perfectly positioned and, as a result, about as easy to lay a hand on while driving as it could be. The menus have many layers, though. This makes using them a bit confusing at first, but you’d get to know your way around if this was your daily transport. The software is also generally slick and the graphics look stylish. The same is true of the digital instruments, which are a bit fiddly to use at first but crisp and classy to look at.
Right then, that just leaves the juicy bit. The P530's N63 BMW V8 versus the D350's straight-six, mild-hybrid, Ingenium diesel. The showdown. I hate to use phrases like velvety and creamy, but the truth is the P530 is velvety. And creamy. It’s a sumptuously smooth motor that provides a delicious aural backdrop to the luxury within. You get the offbeat rumble of a V8 when you put your foot down hard, yet always restrained and refined. There is nothing ‘Stang or Chevy about this V8. It’s more along the lines of an old-school SZ Rolls, just with quicker crank speeds than any 6.75-litre L-Series.
With 530hp available, it can muster up some pace, too. It’ll move Land Rover's 2,510kg, five-metre colossus from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds. Correct me if I am wrong, but that’s impressive, right? It’s also more than a second quicker than the D350, so that’s a definite win. Or is it? Because in a luxury car that’s not designated as sporty, is that sort of pace necessary? And the D350 never feels wanting for outright pace and has the advantage of better low-end torque. It’s got less peak torque than the V8 (516lb ft plays 553lb ft) but a few things help to neutralise the V8’s modest advantage. As we said, the diesel’s lighter – by 80kg, which is equivalent to a large person. It’s also developing its peak shove from 1,500rpm instead of 1,800rpm, which is when the V8’s full twist comes on stream. 300rpm might not seem like a lot, but along with the V8’s peakier delivery, I would say the D350 feels slightly brawnier and more driveable at low to mid revs. And sure, the D350 isn’t as smooth as the V8. It's a diesel after all, but one of the smoothest straight-six diesels I’ve ever encountered. To pick apart the D350 on that score would seem to be the modern equivalent of the Princess and the Pea.
The good news is that there isn't a loser here. The P530 V8 is a lovely thing. I really enjoy its mellifluous beat and old-school charm: a V8 Range Rover, but the most modern and accomplished V8 Range Rover to date. If you’ve got an old model with JLR’s 5.0-litre V8 you needn’t worry, either. The P530 is every bit as good – if not better. But so is the D350 to all intents and purposes. Maybe apart from outright speed, although I reiterate: does that really matter? If you stop to think about that, before answering with a kneejerk “yes” fuelled mostly by tradition, the answer has to be: “no”. As I said in the D350 video, it’s political idiocy that meant diesels were ushered in when everyone knew they were dirty back in the ‘90s. And now, when they’ve been refined to near-perfection, as represented by the D350 – that is, cleaner than some petrols and efficient beyond belief – it's political idiocy that's done for them. An ignorant decision based on, as far as I can fathom, the conflagration of Dieselgate and some dirty old buses. What a stupid decision. And, sorry Nick and Harry’s dad, but to buy a V8 over the torquey, 40mpg D350 would, I think, be another – albeit a more excusable one.
Specification | 2022 Range Rover P530 Autobiography
Engine: 4,395cc, V8, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 530 @ 5,500-6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 553 @ 1,800-4,600rpm
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,510kg (DIN)
MPG: 24.2 (WLTP)
CO2: 265g/km (WLTP)
Price: £140,420 (£147,560 as tested)
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