It may not be within everyone’s reach, but I’m betting there will still be a waiting list for Land Rovers latest offering in the shape of the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic (SVAD). This behemoth now sits proudly at the top of the range.
First impressions count, and never judge a book by its cover it is said, and such is the case with this car, or is it an SUV? Having been taken under the wing of Land Rovers Special Vehicle Operations division, they’ve upped the game in terms of both the power plant and the luxury trim level. Under their masterful touches, they’ve handed back to the marketplace the fastest Range Rover ever built, with a top speed of 155mph (limited). There will, undoubtedly, be a large proportion of the factory’s output winging their way across the pond, as well as to the Middle East and China, where the marque has a huge following, despite the £133,000 price tag.
The car is only available in a 5.0L V8 Supercharged spec, which, wait for it, can catapult you from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds. Frankly, it’s a remarkable achievement for something of this size.
Land Rover’s SVO team have lowered the suspension by 8mm from the standard set-up more common to the range, but, given its off-road pedigree, this can quickly be altered to suit at the press of a button, or twist of a dial. I preferred the lowered arrangement, particularly in the higher speed ranges, which anchors it really well to the road, providing a more stable ride. The handful of suspension tweaks the car has been given provides an extra level of stability, helping lose some of the roll which could be found on other models. It also benefits from changes to the springs, the hydraulic anti-roll feature and has been given a different steering rack, not forgetting the 22” wheels giving a very solid centre of gravity.
That said, what was quite noticeable in the test car, was the harshness of the ride when on rougher road surfaces or traversing our pothole-ridden network of roads. Much more so than the Vogue for example, which produces a softer, more dampened and therefore comfortable ride. There’s definitely been a trade-off in the SVAD between suspension changes in relation to the engine size and ride comfort. For some, that may or may not be a problem, depending on what you want from the car.
The engine mentioned earlier is an aluminium 5.0L V8 Supercharged unit married to an 8-speed auto box driving through all four wheels, which provides a confident and positive set of gear changes throughout the range. But, to be fair, it comes into its own when given its head at the higher rev ranges. Be warned though, it WILL turn heads. The ‘growl’ of that V8 when you apply some pressure to the right-hand pedal might be offputting to some – not me! It’s a big, brassy, bolshy performer, and that five-litre engine works with the overall image being portrayed.
I opted to try out the sports mode on one occasion, just to see what it would do in locking the gear changes down. It terrified me – not because of the Mach Three speed – but due to the visible rate at which the fuel needle dropped! I drove it for 330 miles on a trip to the Highlands and back from Hamilton on a tank of fuel. Working on an average price of £1.18 per litre for petrol, and a tank capacity of 105 litres, I managed to return 14mpg approximately, which is less than the reported Range Rover figure of 22mpg. That said, if you can afford one, you’re not too bothered by the mpg returns I’d imagine.
The interior can only be described as luxurious, from the diamond stitched, quilted and perforated dual-colour leather trim, massaging heated front seats and steering wheel, piano black gloss inserts, soft closing doors for those of a sensitive disposition, and a huge range of colour and trim choices to satisfy even the pickiest of buyers.
It comes fitted with a whole raft of safety aids which includes; lane keep assist for those inclined to straddle, emergency brake assist, 360 degree parking aid with cameras, remote heating, adaptive cruise control with queue assist and intelligent braking, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed limiting, auto-dipping headlamps and a head-up display. However, call me old-fashioned, but I like to use the main safety aids I was born with – my own eyes, to tell me I need to brake when something might be creeping up the inside or outside lanes and how to park safely. Not that the bells and whistles are entirely unwelcome, just don’t rely on them all the time! Surprisingly, and Range Rover aren’t alone here, there’s still no sign of them being fitted with a dash cam as standard.
The ride comfort levels are indeed exceptional on good road surfaces, as is the whisper-quiet cabin where you are cocooned in a climate controlled interior, looking out on the world through privacy glass, enjoying your own TV screen in the back and enjoying it all with a chilled drink courtesy of the rear centre consoles chiller unit. And, with the front seats having an electric control for every possible movement, including height and reach of the headrest, there’s no reason why you’d want to leave the comfort of what is essentially a driving armchair.
Range Rover is the original luxury SUV, epitomising the very best of British design, and while some ardent purists claim they are starting to stray from their roots, I’d say they are simply moving with the times, evolving and refining as they go, until we end up with the SVAutobiography Dynamic. I look forward to seeing where they go next on this journey.