Designed to carry posh occupants wearing very expensive threads and soles on the inside, while muddy waters slosh against the windows, the Range Rover has been one of the biggest paradoxes of modern motoring. Having evolved from serious off-roading chops, the big-daddy of all Land Rovers, the Range Rover Autobiography that we have here, almost never sees broken tarmac in its modern avatar. The D350 long-wheelbase version on test was the four-seater version, but for the first time now, you can opt for a third row to accommodate your growing wealth and family.
Range Rover D350 LWB Autobiography
The millionaire’s control room
A masterclass in subtlety, the “new” Range Rover hides countless hours of perfection behind its seemingly similar exterior. But closer inspection reveals digital LED headlights, flush door handles, and soft yet clean window lines without any exposed sealing trim. It’s unmistakably a Range Rover from any angle, but the rear is where it makes its newness the most apparent with slim LED taillights that turn all black when off.
Climb into the cabin and you really miss a helping hand from a footboard, which wasn’t specced on the test car but is optional. But once perched on your throne, the view from the top is unlike any other car. You sit high and mighty, isolated from the whats below…or around. Massive 22in wheels, air suspension, Terrain Response system underneath and the active noise cancelling speakers embedded in the headrests on the inside ensure that you simply float in your own orbit. If you want a bit of entertainment, the 35-speaker Meridian Signature Surround system is more than willing to pipe tunes not just in the cabin, but even when you’re seated in the Tailgate Event Suite 2. Yes, that’s the picnic bench set-up once you open the split tailgate, with speakers on the top half to drench you in sundowner lounge music. The sound quality within the cabin though isn’t something that moves you emotionally or even figuratively, with a lean balance to the sonic presentation that never really engulfs you in deep, rich and full-bodied sound. There are a few DSP modes on offer but they fail to sound as impressive as 35 speakers do on paper.
Up front is also where you’ll see a lot of the newness, all encased in the finest quality leather, stitching and overall fit and finish. The centrepiece is the 13.1in floating infotainment screen running the latest version of JLR’s Pivi Pro system and its design motive of keeping everything within 1-2 taps is really showing its worth. Also, the built-in navigation of JLR cars has been noteworthy over the years and this latest iteration puts Google Maps to shame in its detailed 3D rendering and fluidity of the maps. Sure, live traffic data might not be as accurate as the big-G, but if you want eye candy on the inside while driving along the coast, these are the best stock maps on offer. There’s even a brand-new 13.7in digital driver display that can be split in three parts to echo the look of the main screen and offers tons of information based on your customisations. As expected, wireless Apple CarPlay, USB-C and wireless charging all show up to help you stay connected. A chilled storage box in the front console is an added bonus!
Front seat or rear, the seating positions and comfort levels are exemplary. In the front row, the captain seat armrests and the perfectly contoured headrests make every drive (or co-drive) a safari-like experience where you simply waft along looking at the world outside in amusement. The boss seat at the back is of course where most actual customers will be spending their time sprawling, literally. The motoorised footrest, motorised recline, motorised centre console and even motorised cupholders spoil you silly. Then there are the massage options, rear screens with their own BT headphones and window shades, all designed to detach you from the plebs, but if you need a bit of inspiration, the massive panoramic sunroof should give you the view you need.
Ride quality like you would expect is superbly cushioned, even on the 22in wheels and most broken roads are brushed aside like an insurance spam call. For the driver, the rear-wheel steering assists in tightening the ample length of this SUV during a three-point turn. While you’re never completely at ease on our congested roads, the 3D surround cameras dotting the periphery of the big Rangie certainly help keep you on top of proceedings, quite literally. There’s a cam that shows you what’s under the massive hood, should you venture on rockier than usual roads and the now staple ClearSight rear view mirror that can be toggled from a regular mirror to a live feed from the rear-facing camera make life easy. The 3.0L diesel has a linear power delivery which bodes well with the hushed nature of the Range Rover but it does have a sense of humour too, offering you lap times, G-meters and a stopwatch! The serious off-roading bits are well documented on the Pivi Pro screen too, along with a wading depth monitor should you ever decide to test out its massive 900mm wading capability claim! In everyday driving, the auto mode on the Terrain Response 2 is best left to its devices where it can even predict road conditions based on eHorizon navigation and prep the suspension for the least impact on the occupants.
With a button for everything you need to orchestrate the perfect seating configuration while soaking in the vistas, the tailgate bench needs special mention. It is the most luxurious and practical way to use the enormous cargo area in this SUV and something that you never knew you needed unless you experienced it in person.
Any potential Range Rover customer isn’t looking for validation from a media professional like me, so passing a “verdict” here is futile. But to summarize the Range Rover experience, I would say that it is still an event every time you drive it or ride it. From the suppleness of the materials to the ride quality, the technology that makes you feel that you can conquer any terrain with the vantage point to do so…it’s no surprise that in our social media poll, it topped accomplished competition like the more expensive Bentley Bentayga and even the increasingly popular GLS-Maybach!
Improving on a legacy this rich isn’t easy but this Range Rover can be a textbook definition of evolution. Modern, without deserting tradition.
|3.0L 6-cyl diesel w/mild hybrid
|345hp / 700Nm