David Errington tried the new Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography, and here is what he thought…
Precious few manufacturers are able to market a product line which has stuck to the same mission statement for the last 40+ years. In fact, only two spring immediately to mind, and both are equally iconic. One is Porsche and the 911, and the other is the Ranger Rover.
When it was introduced in the early 70’s, the Range Rover was billed as a car for all reasons. Is that still the case today? Before spending some time with the latest generation diesel, that was the question I was eager to find the answer to.
In the flesh, the Range Rover SDV8 in Autobiography trim is an imposing, yet elegant machine to behold. The lines and stature are unmistakably that of a Range Rover; a fine example that revolution is not necessary to keep a product fresh and current. Stepping into the interior, opulent is the only word that would do it justice. From the thickness of the carpet, the quality of the upholstery to the feel and response of the switches you are left in no doubt that you are in a luxury car.
On start up the 4.4 litre V8 is barely noticeable, and was certainly refined when out on the road. For a vehicle of substantial weight, there was certainly sufficient response for exploiting gaps in traffic. The low down torque is delivered sublimely, not urgent but relentless, giving the reassurance that you have a machine capable of going anywhere – on or off road. Despite the migration over the generations from low ratios and locking differentials to electronic gizmos, the tools that Range Rover’s armoury provide are always proven to come to your aid when called upon.
That said, this driver would be somewhat nervous to be venturing too far off the beaten track in a car with an on-the-road price of more than half the national average house price! I acknowledge that the original Range Rover is in some respects, a world apart from today, but in the same respect so is the market.
The Range Rover’s on road manners are surprising for a car of its size; both at speed and when manoeuvring. Add in the parking sensors and cameras that are to be expected of the class and you have a package which makes it no more difficult to live with everyday than a Focus or Golf. On the subject on day-to-day living, the optional extras added to this test model (including dual TV screens in the back) would have kept even the most restless bambino entertained, no matter the occasion.
As a machine, the Range Rover must be commended. A machine as at home in the inner city as a country estate, as it was when it was first introduced. There is not an occasion I can think of that it would not be just appropriate, but wouldn’t excel. With sales rising, and a significant number of those vehicles being exported, it seems there are plenty of people that agree.