The new Range Rover gains the V8 engine seen in the 50i range of BMWs
Indulgent flagship leaves old Jaguar V8 and runs off with younger, cleaner BMW one
Even legends die sometimes. The AJ V8 has powered Jaguar and Range Rover range-toppers ever since it appeared in the Jaguar XJ in 1996. It has been supercharged, it has had thundering exhausts bolted to it and it has had two cylinders blanked off to become a V6. It has given all it has to give, but emissions demands mean that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is now starting to phase it out. The first model it has left is the Range Rover, where a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 from BMW takes its place.
The AJ will stick around for a little while in other cars, but the N63B44 is its long-term replacement. We know it from various 50i BMWs as a strong unit that feels equally at home in the M550i as it does in the BMW 7 Series.
And in the new Range Rover too, it appears. There’s a faint woofle at low speeds, building to a cultured growl under harder loads and at higher revs. The Range Rover weighs north of 2.5 tonnes, but 523 horses have no trouble making it brisk, contributing to an unstressed, indulgent feel. It will even do 27mpg at a gentle cruise, albeit much less in town.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox helps, always being in the right ratio for the situation. Well, almost: we felt a few hard shunts away from traffic lights – a slightly worrying glitch but one that didn’t significantly dull the experience and didn’t return after the first day with the car.
Aside from the engine, the Range Rover P530 feels much like the Range Rover D350 we road tested recently. Inside the Range Rover, it’s beautifully made, massively roomy and generally very quiet, unless you turn up the excellent Meridian sound system, of course.
Where this Range Rover also differed from the car we road tested is its 23in wheels instead of 22s. While all new Range Rovers have air suspension that lends the ride over big bumps a pleasing magic carpet smoothness, potholes and expansion joints can interrupt the serenity rather too harshly. The worst potholes can also elicit a shudder from the car’s structure.
One inch of wheel size doesn’t sound like much, but the difference in unsprung weight must be quite considerable with alloy wheels this huge, so we’d always go for the smallest size possible.
The pertinent question here is whether the V8 in particular makes a case for itself. In markets where diesel isn’t offered in the Range Rover, the P530 simply serves as the upgrade from the straight-six P400. Over here, the diesels are the obvious choices: less thirsty, plenty powerful and torquey to feel effortless, and quite a lot less expensive.
The V8 needs to be the flagship, then, the indulgent choice, and that’s why, in the UK, it’s offered in only high-spec Autobiography trim or above, making it a huge £35,000 costlier than the D350.
Range Rover customers inevitably look at these prices differently from people deciding between a 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre Skoda Karoq, so if only the best will do, BMW’s V8 does suit the Range Rover perfectly. However, the price difference is huge – enough to buy a nicely specced example of said Skoda, and diesel buyers shouldn’t feel short-changed.