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Range Rover Autobiography review: 4.0/5

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Land Rover's new Range Rover remains the pinnacle of luxury off-roading.

Kyle Fortune

Words:

Published on: November 12, 2012

Words:

Published on: November 12, 2012

Tech Specs

Model testedRange Rover SDV8 Autobiography
Pricingfrom €119,355
Engine4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel
Transmissionfour-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body stylefive-door SUV
RivalsAudi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
CO2 emissions229g/km (Band G, €2,258)
Combined economy32.5mpg (8.7 litres/100km)
Top speed217km/h
0-100km/h6.9 seconds
Power339hp at 3,500rpm
Torque700Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm

Range Rover's incredible mix of utility and luxury is updated in this all-new model. Thanks to aluminium construction, an even more sumptuous interior and incredible on- and off-road performance the Range Rover utterly cements its position as the world's most accomplished all-round car.

In the Metal:

The new car is clearly a Range Rover, with the traditional styling cues, though slightly lower and slipperier in its quest for greater efficiency. The familiar Range Rover 'floating' roof remains thanks to the black window pillars, and the effect is pronounced if optionally specified with a contrasting roof colour. A clamshell bonnet, split tailgate (now electrically opened) and upright grille - above which sits prominent badging - are all also here. So too is the pinched rear - the upswept backside a legacy of its off-road departure angles. It looks substantial, solid and unmistakably a Range Rover, but sharper and more contemporary, the evolutionary design entirely understandable and very successful.

That is also true inside, Land Rover simplifying the dashboard and fascia with less buttons, while the instruments have been replaced by a screen. It all looks fantastic, while the material quality and fit and finish are comparable to the very finest luxury cars - though the operation of the controls isn't as intuitive as in some German rivals. The satnav screen looks low tech, the resolution poor and the operating system is rather clunky. That instrument screen isn't entirely successful either, being difficult to read in the sun. Space and comfort cannot be faulted up front though, the driving position is superb, while the seats are supremely comfortable and hugely adjustable.

Driving it:

A unique proposition, the Range Rover defines the luxury SUV marketplace. There are faster, sharper to drive rivals out there, but none come close to matching the peerless all-round ability of the Range Rover. That's particularly true in SDV8 turbodiesel guise, its 339hp output (and more importantly here 700Nm of torque at 1,750- to 3,000rpm) gives it easy pace. The eight-speed automatic transmission is imperceptible in its operation and overall refinement high. Wind and road noise are beautifully suppressed and the engine is only heard at higher revs under heavy load - even then it's a pleasing, non-diesel sounding growl.

Thanks to the new aluminium body it's lighter (though at 2,360kg without options it's still a very heavy car) to the benefit of economy, performance and agility. Reaching 100km/h in 6.9 seconds it's remarkably brisk for such a large machine, though it's the way it hides it bulk on the road that's so impressive.

The steering is light in weight and largely devoid of feel, but response to input is quick, the Range Rover changing direction with surprising vigour. That unexpected cornering ability is aided in the SDV8 by the standard fitment of Adaptive Damping and Dynamic Response - the latter reining in body roll. The ride is supple but controlled, so only occasional sharper ridges upset its composure on the road. The Range Rover's ability to isolate and cosset only add to the feeling of luxury.

Venture off the tarmac and it remains a car of unparalleled ability. Terrain Response now offers an auto function, the Range Rover able to clamber, crawl, climb and descend regardless of surface and gradient. Almost impervious to what is rolling under its tyres, the ridiculousness of the terrain it can move over underlines its position as the world's most capable car.

What you get for your Money:

Land Rover has moved the Range Rover up the price scale, though other than the starting price, Irish pricing has yet to be released in full. The options are plentiful, and expensive. Examples include the twin 'executive class' seating in the rear and a cooler compartment within the centre console that comes with it. Rear seat entertainment is costly. Privacy glass adds more still, and specify the Meridian audio Reference sound system and you'll spend as much as many buy a small car for.

Worth Noting

Land Rover also offers a TDV6 engine in the Range Rover, it losing 100Nm of torque and 81hp. However, it shaves 200kg off the kerb weight too, meaning the performance differential isn't as large as you might anticipate - it takes only a second longer to reach 100km/h. That reduced weight, coupled to a standard stop-start system, allows an emissions figure of 196g/km and combined economy of 37.7mpg (7.5 litres/100km) - the SDV8 achieving 229g/km and 32.5mpg (8.7 litres/100km).

Summary

Taking already class-leading ability and finessing it with better economy, performance, equipment and agility has further distanced the Range Rover from its competition. Absolutely nothing matches its breadth of ability, and with the increased price comes even greater luxury, refinement and quality, but it's not cheap and rivals' infotainment systems are better in their operation and execution.



Tech Specs

Model testedRange Rover SDV8 Autobiography
Pricingfrom €119,355
Engine4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel
Transmissionfour-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body stylefive-door SUV
RivalsAudi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
CO2 emissions229g/km (Band G, €2,258)
Combined economy32.5mpg (8.7 litres/100km)
Top speed217km/h
0-100km/h6.9 seconds
Power339hp at 3,500rpm
Torque700Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm