£76,350 - £166,400 Price range
22 - 45 MPG
It’s hard to believe, but we’re now on the fourth generation of the world-famous Range Rover, which originally launched back in 1970. The previous model had been around for 10 years, and minor improvements in that time kept it right at the top of its class, both in the off-roading and the luxury car markets. That tradition continues with the all-new model that went on sale in 2012.
In 2015 the lineup was joined by the top-of-the range Range Rover SVAutobiography. It costs nearly £150,000, comes in long or short wheelbase forms and aims to raise the bar against upmarket competition from the likes of the Bentley Bentayga.
With the luxury of a Rolls Royce and the off-road ability of tank it’s no surprise the Range Rover is so popular. It’s this all-round ability that makes it so appealing – it is equally at home carrying captains of industry as it is whisking the family and a horse box to the races in supreme comfort.
Basic models come with lots of equipment including a Meridian stereo, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, sat nav and a leather interior. But stretch to the Vogue SE and you get options that make the Range Rover even easier to live with everyday, such as adaptive cruise control and headlights with high-beam assist.
The Range Rover is no sports car, which makes choosing the supercharged petrol model (and its huge running costs) hard to justify, and the Hybrid model is expensive to buy. Better, then, to go for one of the diesel models – the basic 3.0-litre can return nearly 40mpg and get the heavyweight Range Rover from 0-60mph in a thoroughly respectable 7.4 seconds.
The old Range Rover was heralded as a masterpiece of interior design at launch, and the new model builds on those strengths. The new interior is described as sumptuous, the improved sound insulation branded exceptional. That’s partly as a result of the new, sleeker body shape, which features a more steeply-raked windscreen to cut down on the old model’s wind noise.
Range Rover passenger space
All Range Rovers have plenty of space for four, and seat comfort has improved on the already-luxurious previous car. Buyers can also choose to specify a long-wheel-base (LWB) body for even more rear legroom.
Range Rover boot space
With 909 litres of load space when all the seats are in place, there’s as much room as many hatchbacks get with the back seats folded down. Land Rover has improved the control layout and, combined with a commanding driving position, it’s just about perfect.
Range Rover SVAutobiography interior
Choose the SVAutobiography model and things are even more impressive. Much of its interior is honed from machined aluminium and the rear seats get electric fold-out tables with USB charging points and chrome coat hooks.
The exclusive centre console that runs between the two rear seats is standard on the SVAutobiography. It holds branded Autobiography champagne flutes, a champagne cooler and the controls for the air-conditioning. Further rear-seat entertainment is provided by two eight inch (10.2-inch on LWB models) touchscreens mounted on the back of the front headrests.
The rear seats themselves are electrically adjustable in any way imaginable, have a massage function and – if you go for the LWB model – one of them reclines to an almost lying position if you move the front passenger seat all the way to the front. Luggage space is unchanged, but the sliding boot floor is now made from the same veneer and aluminium that’s in the front of the cabin.
The real show stoppers, though, are found in the boot. Called ‘event seats’, they look like a cross between a torture device and a saddle, but provide outdoor seating for the kind of well-to-do gatherings Range Rover drivers attend in their droves. They’re not standard even on the range-topping SVAutobiography and are a £5,900 optional extra.
The big Rangey has been on a crash diet and it is now some 400kg lighter than the old car. This has had as dramatic effect on the handling and ride as you might expect, as it becomes far more nimble – insofar as nimble can be applied to a 2.2-tonne, 16 foot SUV – and means the engines don’t have to work as hard to get you to or keep you at speed. Ride quality is now snooker-table smooth, even if the road surface is corrugated iron.
The Range Rover was launched in Marrakech, Morocco, where reviewers found the car equally talented off-road as it is on-road. A wealth of automatic control systems mean the Range Rover is capable in areas you may never take it, but that’s part of the appeal. Overall, the new car’s all-round ability is described as peerless.
Range Rover SVAutobiography driving
For the most expensive Range Rover, JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations have tweaked the suspension set-up as well. Depending on which wheelbase you go for you get a slightly different to drive SUV.
The SWB model is the one more focused on driving dynamics than outright comfort and gets larger 22-inch wheels as standard (21-inch in the LWB model). It’s surprisingly easy to place on the road and when driven fast feels lighter than its 2,500kg weight suggests. Its ride is a million miles from firm, but large potholes do send shudders through the cabin.
More cosseting is the LWB model which is arguably the most comfortable Range Rover yet – it glides over road imperfections with impressive ease. It can’t match the Mercedes S-Class in terms of cornering prowess, but more than compensates for that with superb off road abilities.
There’s a choice of four power units for the new Range Rover. At the very top of the tree is the barking mad 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8, seen in several Range Rover and Jaguar models already. 510hp means it will launch to 60mph in 5.5 seconds, return 22mpg and cost you £500 per year to tax.
If you’re not an oil tycoon with a speed fetish, then consider one of the diesel engines. The 340hp 4.4-litre V8 version makes all the right noises and makes more torque than the supercharged petrol, but kicks fuel economy up to 32.5mpg, which isn’t bad for such a big car. Below that is the 258hp TDV6 diesel, which still provides a pretty alarming shove considering the church-like dimensions – 7.4 seconds to 60mph – but better economy still, at 37.7mpg.
But for the eco-conscious prestige luxury four-wheel-drive buyer, there’s now a hybrid version. A 47hp electric motor sits in the gearbox and provides some extra punch to the SDV6 diesel engine to produce exactly the same power and torque as the V8 diesel but 17% better fuel economy than even the SDV6 – 44.1mpg combined. At £100,000, it’s a little expensive to buy though.
Range Rover SVAutobiography engines
Here the SVAutobiography sees the least amount of changes over the normal Range Rover – the LWB model can be equipped with either the large V8 diesel, the hybrid diesel or an uprated version of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol, taken straight from the F-Type R sports car, albeit with a more subtle soundtrack.
The 550hp petrol is smooth and torquey, but the unchanged running costs and slight performance advantage (0-62mph now takes 5.4 seconds) isn’t really worth the extra outlay. The V8 diesel is even smoother and torquier while also being cheaper to run.
However, according to Range Rover, 8 out of 10 SVAutobiography buyers go for the petrol V8 in their pursuit of the ultimate Range Rover and we don’t blame them. Pick the SWB model and the petrol V8 is the only engine choice.
It’ll reach 62mph in only 7.5 seconds and record an average of 30.1 mpg. Gearchanges are “rarely felt” and while a faint burble from the engine can be heard under hard acceleration, the rest of the time the car is nearly silent - one tester says it doesn’t sound or feel like a diesel at all.
If you can stomach the 20.5 mpg economy, then testers describe the new car’s transition from “audaciously quick for a Range Rover”, to “fast full stop”. At 5.4 seconds to 60mph it’s hard to argue with that, and the behemoth will also top 140mph. It may not make much sense, but reviewers describe it as “implausibly extravagant”.
While testers note that it doesn’t quite match the effortlessness of the V8 diesel model, they still find it more than capable of overtaking and remark on its ability to step off the line smartly. Driven in a more relaxed manner the V6 diesel has ‘virtually undetectable’ noise levels, and economy as-yet unseen to Range Rover drivers.
Given that the Range Rover could simply drive over any incoming obstacles, safety ratings may be somewhat moot, but nevertheless Euro NCAP found something they could crash it into and, unsurprisingly, it scored five stars.
91% for adult occupant safety, 84% for child occupant safety and 86% for safety assists are all marks that put the Range Rover in the top 10% of cars tested. While the 63% pedestrian safety score is less satisfactory it’s somewhat of an inevitability that a pedestrian meeting a Range Rover at speed is not going to have a good time.
The Range Rover has a number of driver aids for safe motoring on all sorts of different surfaces. This isn’t just limited to the Terrain Response Control, but includes automatic load levelling suspension, dynamic stability control, emergency brake assist, roll stability control and cornering brake control.
Given the levels of luxury and generous standard equipment the Range Rover is actually priced relatively competitively, many of which are regular saloon cars. Even the supercharged model costs only a few grand more than a Jaguar XJ Supersport, which has the same engine. A Bentley dealer won’t even speak to you about its Bentayga SUV until you bring £160,000 to the table.
Range Rover SVAutobiography
If the regular top-of-the-range Autobiography model is just too ordinary for you then the money-no-object SVAutobiography should definitely be on your shopping list.
The extensive standard equipment list includes a powerful 29-speaker Meridian sound system, a huge panoramic sunroof as well as heated, cooled and massage seats. Other, less noticeable, upgrades include graphite or chrome exterior details, subtle SVAutobiography badges, an eye-catching two-tone paint job and quad exhaust pipes for the supercharged V8 version.
For the luxury, there’s nothing else quite like it. The only thing that comes close is the Bentley Bentayga, which will cost considerably more money once you’ve added a handful of options.
There would have been something very wrong had the Range Rover not beaten its predecessor in every tangible way and reviews suggest that the old car has been made well and truly obsolete. Performance ranges from effortless to stunning and few cars have such a sense of occasion behind the wheel.
The only real area in which the new model loses out, and then only to some eyes, is in the design, which cuts a softer, less regal profile on the road. At the same time, it’s still a successful update of an iconic car.