Land Rover has undertaken a far-reaching update of the Range Rover. The two most significant changes are the adoption of a much more powerful diesel engine and a new eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The 3.6 litre V8 diesel engine previously fitted to the Range Rover is very well regarded but the arrival of a heavily revamped 3.0-litre version of the Land Rover's V6 diesel – adopted last year in the Discovery and Range Rover Sport, as well as Jaguar's XF and XJ - with greatly improved performance, economy and emissions, seemed to call its future into question. Now, however, the V8 has had the benefit of a similar programme of improvements which should allow it to re-establish its lead over the V6. Capacity is increased to 4.4 litres, and the engine now provides 313 horsepower and 700 Newton metres of torque. At the same time, combined cycle fuel consumption improves to 30.1mpg (making this the first Range Rover to break the 30mpg barrier in official tests), while CO2 emissions fall by 14% to an admittedly still hefty 253g/km.

The diesel's new eight-speed automatic transmission, like the previous six-speeder, comes from German transmission specialist ZF. Another ZF customer, BMW, has had eight-speed 'boxes in some of its cars for several months now, so Jaguar Land Rover will probably be pleased to catch up; even if the extra ratios don't make much difference on the road, they will have given BMW a bit of an edge in showroom and brochure comparisons. The new engine/gearbox combination allows the diesel Range Rover to reach 130mph and accelerate to 60mph in 7.5 seconds.

The existing 5.0 litre supercharged petrol engine continues to be offered alongside the improved diesel, although it sticks with ZF's six-speed gearbox, rather than adopting the new eight-speeder. Both petrol and diesel models get an improved version of Land Rover's impressive Terrain Response, which makes it easier for less experienced drivers to set the Range Rover's highly capable 4x4 system up for different types of off-road conditions.

There are small adjustments to the car's appearance and equipment levels, and Land Rover is also offering 700 examples of the specially-trimmed Autobiography Black 40th anniversary limited edition to commemorate the launch of the first-generation Range Rover in 1970.

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