There are SUVs, and there are Range Rovers. In fact, there are Range Rovers and then there are Range Rovers.
The Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic is as close to the absolute pinnacle of the Range Rover tree as can be, with the only step left to opt for the flagship long-wheelbase model of the same car.
This is the kind of car that actually defines the concept of luxury. It’s subtle on the outside and a masterpiece of opulence on the inside. It’s befitting of kings and queens, and those fortunate enough to be able to pay the rather hefty price tag.
For this particular SUV, you’ll needs to fork out $346,170 before on-road costs. You’d be correct in thinking most of what you will see on the car is standard, but some things that really should be (given the price) are not.
That includes the 22-inch forged, five-split-spoke alloy wheels ($2500) and sliding panoramic roof ($840). A fixed glass roof is standard.
Range Rover basically throws in the entertainment pack (well, $130) if you want it, which includes a CD/DVD player, 10.0-inch rear seat entertainment screens, and all the necessary pieces to get it working.
We suspect this isn’t standard because you’d rather attach iPads to the back of the seats rather than have screens most kids will likely never use.
Another option fitted to this particular car was the active rear locking differential for $1170. All together, the price of our test car came in at $350,860 before on-road costs.
Pretty much everything that Range Rover has to offer comes with the big daddy SVAutobiography. There are an almost endless number of things you get in this car, but the main thing to realise is that you get an unrivalled cabin ambience.
There is so much room and it’s so quiet inside that it’s fair to say this Range Rover has a sense of luxury that rivals that of the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan for a fair bit less coin.
Specifically, the highlights include the second-generation Terrain Response system, pixel-laser LED headlights with gorgeous daytime running lights, quilted and perforated semi-aniline leather seats with 24-way adjustment, heating, and cooling; and ‘hot-stone’ massage front seats with – wait for it – ‘Executive Class Comfort Plus’ rear seats.
Other bits we liked included the woven carbon-fibre trim used throughout the cabin, the illuminated aluminium tread plates with SVAutobiography stamps, unique SVAutobiography knurled pedals, adjustable ambient lighting, a front centre console cooler compartment for when you just have to keep that (small) bottle of Mumm chilled, and four-zone climate control.
Other less notable features include the 360-degree surround camera, a suite of active and passive safety systems, and a top-notch Meridian sound system.
The full-size Range Rover was tested all the way back in 2013 and achieved 36.19 out of 37 for its safety score to get the maximum five-star rating.
Since then safety testing procedures have changed considerably. The MY20 Range Rover comes with a plethora of active safety systems, but doesn’t have the pedestrian and cyclist detection required to achieve the top score if tested under today’s more stringent criteria.
There is not much wrong with the interior of the range-topping Range Rover. Our test car came with Pimento hyper-red chill coloured seats that really popped. You could say they were a bit outlandish but hey, if you’re going to own a near-$400,000 Range Rover, you may as well own it in style.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the colour scheme but it’s fair to say some may prefer subtler colours that don’t blind onlookers when the doors are open.
The front seats are super comfortable, and there’s such a minuscule amount of noise coming into the cabin you can actually fall asleep in this car if you’re not too careful, and not in the driver’s seat. We often found ourselves turning the massage function on and going the long way home just to enjoy the almost over-the-top sense of opulence and luxury.
The open-aired command position seating with a heap of room around you really does relax the mind and soul. This is the sort of car you’re be happy to drive in traffic, because it’s just a nice place to be.
The back seats, though, are where the magic happens. Press a few buttons (too many for our liking) and the peasants in the front are squashed forward, and the rear seats recline into a limo-style position where you can sleep for hours, as your driver takes you from your mansion to your holiday home.
We can only imagine that’s what the Queen of England does behind those blacked-out windows.
As far as being relaxed and enjoying the driving experience, this Range Rover offers a level of comfort that is almost unrivalled. It’s worth noting it does make sense to go for the long-wheelbase version, which gives you an extra 19.2cm of legroom in the second row and really allows you to stretch out.
Other than that it’s fair to say even with the dual-screen setup and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the native infotainment software is a little on the old-fashioned side.
It’s reasonable and does the job, but it’s well and truly a generation behind what you can get even in the base-spec cars from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The good thing is the cabin is so relaxing and the car such a pleasure to drive that you’re happy to get lost thanks to the outdated sat-nav.
The boot measures 900L in capacity (wet, meaning if you filled it with liquid), which is large enough for pretty much anything you can think of. If you think of something bigger, just fold down the second-row seats and that grows to an impressive 1943L.
Under the bonnet is Jaguar Land Rover’s cool (and definitely never to be repeated) 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol engine. This engine is surviving by the smallest of margins. Although it’s likely to be around a bit longer, it will probably make way for a more efficient turbocharged or hybrid setup in the new-generation Range Rover due in 2021.
It takes a real brute-force approach, this V8. It sounds amazing without being as ridiculous as the backfiring Range Rover Sport SVR. We’d probably like it a little louder, but then again the cabin is so well insulated that it’s hard to tell how loud it actually is.
The V8 pumps out a very healthy 416kW of power and, thanks to its supercharger, 700Nm of torque in a very usable band between 3500 and 5000rpm.
Despite weighing 2.5 tonnes, the eight-speed automatic gearbox does such a great job of extracting the best from the engine that the SVAutobiography managed to get from standstill to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds, so you needn’t be shy at the traffic lights.
Range Rover claims a fuel economy figure of 13.1 litres per 100km, but that’s not exactly likely in the real world, with anything approaching a rear driver behind the wheel. Realistic figures are closer to 20L/100km if you intend to actually drive your very expensive moving luxury lounge chair with any vigour.
The big V8 and the relatively lightweight aluminium chassis gives the Range Rover a towing capacity of 3500kg so you can bring the horses yourself, if your servants are busy.
Surprisingly well. Despite its box-on-wheels shape, the full-size Range Rover is a very dynamically capable vehicle.
In V8 form it’s quick enough to actually have some fun in – never once did it feel underpowered or overwhelmed by what we threw at it.
Not just a lounge chair
Luxury doesn't have to come at the compromise of dynamic ability.
Sure, if you start to drive it like a Range Rover Sport you’ll really feel the weight in the bends, but for a big and heavy SUV that will rarely see twisty roads, the full-size Rangie can hold its own.
Best of all, it’s insanely comfortable. The ride and handling balance is on par with what you get from a Bentayga or Cullinan. You don’t need to compromise on looks, either, as even on these gigantic 22-inch wheels fitted to our test car the ride is superb on every surface we could find.
We actually went out of our way to find the largest of potholes in Brisbane and still felt that the car absorbed it without breaking a sweat.
Another feature we liked is the super adjustable ride-height courtesy of the standard air suspension, meaning you can lower the Range Rover quite a lot to allow easier entry and exit then raise it when the road conditions require.
It’s free (sort of, for the first five years). If you’re willing to pay this much money for a Range Rover, the company rightly acknowledges that you have already bought the Golden Ticket and shouldn’t have to worry about anything else.
As such, all full-size Range Rovers come with a 130,000km/five-year free servicing plan that includes everything bar consumables like tyres and brake pads.
It’s not often you come across a vehicle that, hand on heart, you would recommend to anyone without qualms. But this is one of them.
Yes, it’s stupidly expensive but if you drive a lot and you enjoy driving experiences with the family, there isn’t really another SUV in which you can balance comfort, luxury, and subtlety in the same manner as the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic.
Yes, the Bentley Bentayga probably offers a little more in terms of fit and finish but this is a larger car and it doesn’t stand out quite the same way.
As much as we have truly loved driving the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, you can get two of these for the same price and frankly, you’re not missing out all that much in terms of luxury bar the badge.