A Range Rover that moves

mountains

THOSE with long memories may recall how you could hose out the floor of the original Range Rover after a muddy day on the farm, thanks to its oh-so-practical rubber floor covering.

Times have changed since the 1970s, you might agree, on catching a glance inside the latest offering from the Solihull production line.

These days you'd be more inclined to hose yourself down - or at least take a shower - before daring to slip into the Range Rover's interior.

Certainly that applies to one that's been through the company's Special Vehicle Operations in Coventry, emerging in all its diamond quilted leather and high gloss veneered wood splendour.

The fettling elevates the already far from humble Range Rover to Autobiography status, where even the car's handbook is finished in the same quilted leather as the extremely comfortable seats - and (look up now) the perforated headliner also began life on a cow's back.

Then, there's what you'll find under the bonnet. If your particular Range Rover Autobiography is blessed with an additional 'Dynamic' tag you will have the most powerful version on sale - all 550 horsepower of it.

To put that in some sort of context, that's a bit more than the 540 horses produced by the humblest McLaren supercar. So the £132,800 SVAutobiography Dynamic ought to fly as well as impress at the kerbside.

It does, of course, but there's one crucial difference between the svelte, two-seat Macca and the five-seat, four-wheel drive, go anywhere, tow a trailer Rangie.

You've guessed; the latter is rather heavier. At more than 2.4 tonnes the Range Rover is among the heaviest cars on the road and that has consequences on performance.

It is still a potent machine, almost surreally quick for such a big beast, with a top speed of 155mph and 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and all accompanied by a delicious roar from its 5.0 litre supercharged V8 petrol engine.

Power reaches all four wheels via a seamlessly changing eight-speed automatic gearbox. A rotary control (in what its maker describes as 'a sophisticated knurled finish') can be turned to look after things if you head off road for the nearest beach or mountain.

The necessary built-in toughness brings the already mentioned weight penalty and that's reflected in an official average economy of 22.1mpg, but you don't have to try hard to sink beneath 20mpg. The tailpipe emissions figure of 299g/km is similarly profligate.

Big red finished Brembo brake calipers wink at you from behind huge alloy wheels and are an SVAutobiography marker along with graphite grey licks on bonnet, grille, bumper and tailgate and four chromed tailpipes loudly suggesting all that performance.

If the way it goes in a straight line is impressive so too is the manner this burly beast tackles the corners, thanks to a thorough going over of its suspension that drops ride height a tad and stiffens up springs and dampers.

The ride, on sophisticated air springs remains peerlessly controlled and remains one of the Range Rover's stand out features, the sort of attribute that long term owners simply adore.

Standard kit extends to a 1,700 watt Meridian sound system, rear centre console with chiller to keep the champers cool and adaptive cruise control. You can choose, for no extra cash, to include an excellent head up instrument display and big iPad-like screens for rear seat passengers (not a squeak from the little ones!). Why you might decline these 'free' features is beyond me.

So, your £132,800 buys a decadently equipped and very fast Range Rover, which its maker must hope will appeal to someone with, say, a Bentley Bentayga on the shopping list too.

The newcomer from Crewe starts at £135,800, little more than this Range Rover and is actually faster, lighter and more economical (a relative term) thanks to its diesel engine.

But it's nowhere near as dripping in goodies as the Range Rover without spending a small fortune on options. That may make all the difference.

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