Classics World’s Paul Guinness test drives and reviews the Range Rover 4.6 Vogue SE…
Of all the Range Rover derivatives of the last 47 years, the model codenamed P38A during its development represents by far the best value. Launched in 1994, this second-generation version of Land Rover’s most upmarket model remains very affordable – particularly if it’s a high-mileage example, prices for which start from less than £1500. With values of the Range Rover Classic at an all-time high, it’s easy to see why the P38A is seen as a sensible alternative.
The P38A tested here, however, doesn’t fall into that ‘cheap and cheerful’ category – and with good reason. For a start, it’s a very late example of its type, having been first registered in May 2002 – just prior to the launch of its third-generation successor. And being a 4.6-litre Vogue SE model (costing its first owner the best part of £50,000), it inevitably comes very generously equipped. Then there’s the fact that this Range Rover has covered just 59,000 miles and is presented in superb condition.
As a design, the ‘MkII’ Range Rover was slightly controversial in its day, with some critics claiming it had lost much of the original’s style and character. All these years later, however, it’s certainly aged well thanks to its clean lines and lack of ostentation. As the first-generation Range Rover had moved increasingly upmarket throughout its career, the P38A was inevitably one of the world’s most opulent 4x4s from launch, featuring cosseting innovation like EAS (Electronic Air Suspension) as well as an interior that oozed luxury and class. A choice of engines was also offered, including 4.0- and 4.6-litre V8s and a BMW-sourced turbo-diesel.
The Vogue SE featured here has the most powerful of those powerplants, with its 4554cc V8 pushing out 215bhp when new; and that was enough oomph to endow this big, heavy 4×4 with a 123mph top speed and a 0-60mph time of well under ten seconds. With all that power fed through a super-smooth ZF four-speed automatic transmission, the entire driving experience was relaxing and effortless.
ON THE ROAD
The Vogue SE still impresses with its luxury, with this example’s high-quality leather upholstery being finished in cream, with contrasting blue piping and blue carpets to complement the metallic Oslo Blue exterior. Standard on-board fitments include electric windows and mirrors, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, an electric sunroof, cruise control, heated windscreen, built-in sat-nav and a high-quality Harman Kardon sound system.
Firing up the 4.6-litre V8 gives a hint of what’s to come, thanks to its unmistakeable ‘burble’ whilst at tickover. But it’s out on the road where the engine truly impresses, with a surge of acceleration through the gears and an impressively rapid increase in speed – made all the more enjoyable thanks to the Range Rover’s sheer overall refinement. It’s an impressively light and easy vehicle to drive, and yet the steering retains plenty of ‘feel’ at all times; but it’s the handling of this P38A that is a real delight, with the EAS providing a combination of superb ride quality and impressively flat cornering by 4×4 standards.
Nothing about the driving experience caused us any concerns, with this P38A performing perfectly during our brief time at the wheel. Combine the high-up driving position and sheer practicality of a family-size 4×4 with the kind of comfort and luxury you’d associate more with a limousine and it’s easy to see the appeal. This particular example is better than most, however, thanks to its superb bodywork, nicely preserved 18-inch alloys (shod with Pirellis all round) and immaculate interior. Even the engine bay is exceptionally clean and tidy, while the boot area is in near-mint condition.
Having had just two owners from new (the last one for eleven years, during which time it was driven only 12,000 miles), this particular P38A is a complete contrast to the high-milers that litter the internet. As one of the best examples of its type, it’s worth taking a closer look if you’re in the market for some modern-classic sumptuousness.
This particular example might be near the top rung of the P38A price ladder, but it’s been reduced in recent weeks – and now represents good value at less than £11,000. Its mileage is low, its history is known and its overall condition is little short of superb. And being one of the last of the P38As means it also comes with every refinement and improvement that arrived during the model’s eight-year run, making it an excellent buy for anyone seeking one of the ultimate specs. When it comes to buying a P38A, this is as risk-free as it gets.
ENGINE: 4554cc V8
TOP SPEED: 123mph
0-60MPH: 9.6 secs
GEARBOX: 4-sp auto