If you like smooth refined driving, comfortably nestled in your armchair seats, in a silent luxury cabin, with only the whispering sound of a thoroughbred V8, being utterly in command of the car and any traffic situation you may encounter, then this Range Rover Autobiography is the car for you.
It will indeed guide you over any path your life may open for you...and accompany you in style to your goal(s) and destination(s.)
We drove the Autobiography with the amazing V8 339 HP Diesel unit, just read on...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The iconic Range Rover has come a long way, and has now an all aluminum body, which enhances overall efficiency and brings it both in terms of performance and consumption in the forefront of its class. Where it leads the way over the competition however is in its character, personality, iconic dimensions and proportions, with last but not least the inimitable panache from its styling, both outside as inside. Indeed, also in the cabin, with the large instrument cluster in front of the driver, the wide centre console, there is this typical atmosphere of the "Range" which remains both unequalled and unique.
The Autobiography version breathes refinement. Our test car came in very fitting Causeway Grey, matched in the interior with white coloured leather and interior fittings. The Range Rover comes standard with a fixed panoramic glass roof, which adds to this extra airiness which further enhances the commanding position you have over the road behind the iconic four spoked steering wheel.
Pushing the starting knob will let appear the electronic, completely virtual dials and instruments, and besides a reaction from the rev counter, nothing is felt, and only a very subdued, beautiful V8 throb is heard. There is the familiar round turning knob on the centre console and a slight turn to the right, "D" is chosen.
The unique joys of Range Rover driving can begin: with uncanny smoothness, the car starts moving. The heated steering wheel slides through your hands, you feel in total control. Pushing the throttle just a bit deeper, the Range gathers speed with total feline refinement. It is an exquisite feeling to be so totally insulated in the cabin from any vibrations or mechanical effort which the driveline produces.
This is indeed what we call motoring. Flick the handy knob on the right upper spoke of the steering wheel to set the cruise control and there you are, enjoying the highest class comfortable motoring possible in your Range Rover.
Everything is so refined and totally restful. Herein lays the greatest charm of this car: the total restfulness and "zen" feeling which pervades you when you are behind the wheel of this vehicle. Whether it is in tight urban traffic, on winding county roads, or on fast Autobahnen or Autoroutes, its self assuredness in any situation has a soothing influence, which makes this massive four wheeled companion so endearing.
Top level handling, comfort and performance
Indeed, this Rover takes everything totally in its stride, whatever the road, whatever your mood or driving style. You feel that its capabilities are truly endless. Well, as a matter of fact, they (almost) are. Just take the suspension and chassis. This car has electronically controlled air suspension on all four wheels. It has so called "Terrain response", which means that damping and ride height are automatically adapted to the terrain you may encounter, when you leave the selector in "auto" mode.
Thanks to "adaptive dynamics" damper stiffness is electronically set to your driving style on the open road. There is even "Dynamic Response" which prevents too much body roll when the going is fast.
There is still more, like CBC or corner brake control, EBD or Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, EBA or Emergency Brake Assist.
On slippery roads, one can count on ETC or Electronic Traction Control, and when negotiating steep muddy hills, it is good to know there is an electronically controlled EDC or Engine Drag control system.
When you have to restart on a slippery gradient, GAC or Gradient Acceleration Control will assist you. To avoid too sudden brake release manoeuvres on slippery downhill slopes, there is GRC or Gradient Release Control to assist you. Last but not least ther is the automatic braking system when negotiating descents, the so-called HDC or Hill Descent Control.
Needless to say that we put our shiny test car also through its paces on muddy off road terrain, and we could not resist photographing the luxurious Autobiography in its element...
As could be expected, the test car passed its off road outing with flying colours. Basically, we just left the Terrain Response in “Auto“ mode, and despite the very slippery, partially inundated terrain, the Autobiography pulled masterfully from standstill out of muddy potholes, as the car was stopped many times in the mud during the photoshoot.
On the winding open road, the car can be driven with spirit, and is utterly stable when driven at very high speeds in fast bends. Indeed, the roadholding capacities of this tall Rover are nothing short of stunning.
It will cruise quite naturally up to very high speeds on the motorway, where it feels completely in its element too.
When it comses to sheer performance, this SDV8 is very fast indeed. The 225 kW or 339 HP of this supersmooth Diesel push the Rover to a top speed of 218 km/h, with acceleration to match of course. The sprint from 0 to 100 costs merely 6,9 seconds, and even more impressive is the silky smoothness of the adaptive 8 speed transmission during all this action. Pulling power is also abundant thanks to the rather formidable torque of 740 Nm
Despite all the responsiveness and sporting qualities the Range Rover demonstrates when one is in a hurry, this car inspires you to a rather restful driving style in most conditions. This means of course a very reasonable consumption, and indeed we had little trouble achieving a consumption of around 9 litres/100 km, in line with the average figure of 8,4 litres/100 km quoted by the manufacturer.
CO2 emissions are officially given at 219 g/km. In terms of fuel efficiency and emissions, enormous progress has been made.
Needless to say that the brakes are very well up to their task, and the electric power steering is sensitive and precise.
The seating position both in front and rear is of the very highest standard, as is the quality support and adjustment range of the seats. One can even choose a long wheelbase version, but for ordinary mortals, the legroom is excellent. The seats are heated and cooled, also in the rear, and one can rest fully in the very soft Oxford leather headrests.
The Meridian sound system is also a chapter on its own. It boosts some 825 watts of music power with not less than 18 speakers and 1 subwoofer. The sound quality has to be heard to be believed. We discovered again Stacey Kent, her marvellous timbre but also her impeccable text pronunciation, coming so crystal clear out of the speakers. You can imagine also how the adagietto from Mahler sounded in this Rover, a pure delight...
The commands on the 8 inch touchscreen are logical, easy to use, connecting the iPhone was a breeze.
Another feature we liked very much about this iconic Rover is the split rear luggage door, which of course opens electronically. The lower boot lid folds out like a little bench, coming in handy when you have to pull off those muddy boots before entering your pristine Rover.
The Range Rover Autobiography, and any other version of the "Range" for that matter, remains an absolute icon. It provides the quintessence of noble motoring, of restful driving, in all circumstances, on all types of roads. Its styling breathes tradition, has timeless character and panache. The mechanical refinement has reached even still higher levels, and very reasonable frugality has also been achieved.
Last but not least, when it comes to using all the available performance, the capacities of the Range Rover SDV8 are truly awesome, setting this Range Rover even more apart, and making it still more unique.
Hans Knol ten Bensel