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How much? £94,695
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4367cc V8 32v turbodiesel, 339bhp @ 3500rpm, 516lb ft @ 1750-3000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 6.5sec 0-60mph, 135mph, 32.5mpg, 229g/km
How heavy / made of? 2360kg/aluminium
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4999/2073/1835
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Handling

Rated 3 out of 53

Performance

Rated 4 out of 54

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 5 out of 55

Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

By Phil McNamara

First Drives

01 January 2013 01:28

The all-new Range Rover is here: royalty, Premiership footballers, country gents, drug dealers, social climbers and car enthusiasts rejoice! That cast list sums up the broad appeal of the original luxury 4x4, which this fourth-generation seeks to extend with a technical breakthrough: it’s the world’s first SUV with an all-aluminium body. That helps make it some 350 kilos lighter than the outgoing model, with Land Rover claiming commensurate improvements in acceleration, economy, emissions and agility. Read on to find out more.

CAR has only tested the extreme V8 petrol so far; we hope this runs a diesel…?

It sure does. The base diesel is the 3.0-litre V6 (from £71,295), with 442lb ft of torque, 37.7mpg and a CO2 emissions figure just under 200g/km. But we’ve tested the 4.4-litre V8 in flagship Autobiography trim, which cranks up the price to £94,695, the CO2 figure to 229g/km, smothers the cabin in the hides of an entire cattle market, and packs a bigger punch. Peak torque of 516lb ft is summoned at a lowly 1750 revs, effortlessly sailing this 2360kg liner up to the speed limit. There’s a suave V8 growl in the background, but it’s as genteel as a butler’s interjection, ensuring this model won’t offend the royalty/country gent demographic. The eight-speed transmission is a suitably cultured companion, smoothly blurring the rapid shifts if you’re pootling along, or hanging onto gears and spinning up to the redline if it gets the signal from a heavier throttle. Standstill to 60mph takes 6.5sec, and the official combined fuel consumption figure is 32.5mpg (besting the economy and CO2 figures of its only V8 diesel rival, the Audi Q7).

It’s still big, it’s still heavy – how does it ride and handle?

The Mk4 feels like a tauter version of the third-generation car, which rode supplely like a cork bobbing on a stream, but with lashings of body roll on CAR’s 52-plate long-termer. All new Range Rovers have air suspension with continuously adaptive damping to soften or stiffen the ride according to road conditions, and the SDV8 (and supercharged petrol) get ‘dynamic response’ active anti-roll bars. This two-channel system operates on both front and rear axles, to stop the body rolling over in corners. And it works: occupants no longer sway languorously back and forth, like a willow in the wind. This tauter set-up means you hear and feel potholes more than I remember in the Mk3, but the Range Rover is still a smooth-riding car.

Don’t go thinking the handling is transformed though: this is still a car you pilot rather than hustle, like a ship’s captain bringing a cruise ship into port. The new, electric power-assisted steering is beautifully weighted, light and easy at manoeuvring speeds, more resistant and measured as the pace quickens. But it’s never quick off the dead ahead, which makes you drive in a relaxed manner. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially in a 2.4-tonne car, where you’re pushing a long bonnet stuffed with eight-cylinders into every corner. The incisive brakes are utterly transformed – an obvious benefit of the much reduced mass –with just a gentle prod slowing the Range Rover; the Mk3 felt like you needed sixth-sense anticipation and an elephantine stamp to stand any chance of avoiding a rear-end shunt.

What about the cabin?  

The old Range Rover’s Achilles heel was that a car nearly 5m-long forced its cramped rear occupants into Guantanamo-style stress positions. While the new car is barely longer than the outgoing model, its extended wheelbase frees up 118mm more legroom in the rear. It’s more comfortable, and with your knees in the recessed seat backs and toes slotted beneath, a long journey is now tolerable. But the forthcoming stretched Range Rover should elevate rear legroom to the cabin’s otherwise high standards, and make this the ultimate chauffeur’s car. Our Autobiography spec test car had heated and moveable rear seat backs with lumbar support, plus the £1900 rear screen package for watching satellite TV or DVDs. The enveloping, winged head restraints feel like something out of a Lear Jet, while the Range Rover’s width, tall glasshouse and £1500 glass roof make this one of the most luxurious and airy cars on sale. Throw in the piano black wooden inserts in dash and doors, three shades of neatly sewn leather (red seats, black dashtop and ivory roof lining) and you have a cabin that won’t make life easy for Bentley when it tries to muscle in on the SUV market.

Nothing’s perfect though: the powered split tailgate is pernickety, and makes piling in the Christmas gear harder than it need be. As the doors close in like the Death Star’s walls, you have to pull out the limbs propping up clobber at the last minute, and if it senses something in the way – even if it’s as compressable as a pillow – the doors won’t close: all very awkward. An automatic opening boot is all the automation we need: let humans judge whether a door will close safely or not, by hand. And the devil is in some small details: the digital dials don’t have sufficient class for the Range Rover. And between the beautiful aluminium surround for the rotary gear selector and the park brake toggle resides a foul plastic plaque emblazoned with the Range Rover logo – switch this to aluminium please!

Verdict

It’s hard to match the feelgood factor of wafting around in the new Range Rover SDV8. It’s quick, comfortable, classy and capable. The Audi Q7 and Mercedes GL might have the stature but they can’t eclipse the SDV8’s performance and can’t come close to its imperiousness; a BMW X5 4.0d demolishes this Rangie on economy, acceleration and top speed but it feels Championship division compared with the Champions League. The Range Rover’s list of acolytes should grow ever longer. It remains peerless, the iconic luxury 4x4.

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>> Browse Range Rovers for sale at LRO.com

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Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

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carmobster

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carmobster says

RE: Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

It is not bonkers as a carpenter buys a hammer as a working tool. We buy Range Rover's and Seamasters because of the engineering combined with a pretty package...and well...frankly...because we can. I have test driven the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 before I decided to go with the Evoque, it was simply more comfortable and a better driving tool and much more bespoke. The biggest asset was that it gave me a smile whereas the Audi and BMW in no means bad cars felt too plasticky and boring.

You know there will always be two kinds of people, those who get this and those who don't.

I was not concerned about reliability as todays 21st century automobiles have little niggles but no major reliability problems anymore. This is because major part suppliers now dominate the components of each car instead of a manufacturer trying to invent the wheel itself. For instance my 2.2 diesel comes from Ford, the injection is 98 % of all car injectors made by Bosch, etc. The anti-corrosion baths are supplied by the same chemical companies and so on.

My Range Rover has 2 years unlimited warranty and to this day did not need it.

 

07 January 2013 10:46

 

geed

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geed says

RE: Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

@ carmobster. "In the same sense as you won't go diving with your most expensive Omega Seamaster even though it has been made especially for such conditions." An interesting analogy. Bonkers though isn't it imagine a carpenter buying the best hammer only to leave it out of his van and use an inferior tool at work!

But that is the difference between between buying a luxury product and a premium product. I would sprint past my Landrover dealer to a Nissan or Toyota dealer for a Patrol or Landcruiser without hesistation if I wanted to cross a desert as their products offer far more quality. Marketing is a powerful thing.

Here is a question for you, were you concerned about reliability before buying your Landrover product? I would think that an Evoque is not bought for practical reasons and is very much an emotional buy whereby the purchaser may well forego possible issues such as durability when going through the buying process etc...
 

04 January 2013 16:20

 

carmobster

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carmobster says

RE: Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

@Geed; If Land Rover's are only loved by Brits alone why are they breaking sales records alle over the world and especially in the U.S. and China?

No, I get what you mean. If you live in the outback all you need is a Toyota Hilux 4wd. But everybody understands Land Rover and Range Rover's it is a global luxury brand. In the same sense as you won't go diving with your most expensive Omega Seamaster even though it has been made especially for such conditions.

04 January 2013 07:27

 

carmobster

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carmobster says

RE: Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

Reliability problems? I own a RR Evoque since december 2011. Never went wrong, no electronic glitches no interior trim falling off.

This car is a joy to drive and to own, it put's a smile on your face and is easy to park and has lot's of interior space. The leather interior (including dash and doors) is of a higher quality leather than any BMW or Merc can match. It still looks box fresh today. It drives over potholes Audi can only dream of, this is with my 20 inch alloys you mind. Only two downsides; the touchscreen navigation (it isn't as good as the Germans and why can Samsung and Apple make perfect and quick to react touchscreens for 400 euro's and RR asks 2000 euro's for a bad one?) and the 6 speed auto (a little slow to respond).

 

It is a car that has as much emotion as the Alfa's and Lancia I own and have owned only more reliable and comfortable. It is sublime.

 

04 January 2013 07:21

 

typos1

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typos1 says

RE: Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography (2013) CAR review

Land Rover cant "fix" their reputation, they can fix their products, but their reputatuion will stay in people's heads long after the products have been fixed. Alfa, for example has a bad reputation for quality and reliablity, nevertheless the products were fixed years ago and are at least average or above average in quality and reliablity. But most peole STILL regard them as poorly built and unreliable, however incorrect his maybe. This is down to people's attitudes and there isnt a lot LanRover can do about it.

03 January 2013 16:55

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