Performance is effortless: The car has a 135mph top speed and zero to 62mph acceleration in a decidedly brisk 6.9sec yet the engine rarely gets close to its theoretical 4500rpm redline. You only really hear the engine as it starts: even the idle is subdued.
There’s a faint V8 “woofle” if you use the engine hard, but mostly the car just glides as if propelled by a giant elastic band attached to the horizon. Gearchanges are rarely felt, though if necessary you can shift to a Sport regime (which holds indirect gears longer) operate it manually via shift paddles for extra zing or engine braking.
None of the Terrain Response facilities will surprise a modern Range Rover driver, but a new generation system arrives with the latest Range Rover that offers an automatic setting that gauges driving conditions and configures throttle, clearance, transmission and chassis electronics to suit changing conditions.
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How is it different from the outgoing car? Not much, in overall size. But its tracks are wider, it has 20mm more ground clearance, the self-levelling (and height adjustable) air suspension has more travel and it can wade through 900mm water pools, 20mm than before.
On-roads it feels tall but more stable that the previous model, with an even smoother ride, less sensitivity to crosswinds and even more relaxed, accurate steering especially near the straight-ahead. If the previous Rangie was easy to drive, this is even more so, and the margins are easily detectable.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the bracket, don’t miss the opportunity.
The new Range Rover SDV8 is no bargain — the cheapest in the range is £70,000-plus — but this new model is better in every respect, and its margins of improvement are instantly obvious, even over a machine as good as the outgoing L322 Range Rover.
Our settled opinion must await a direct comparison, but we reckon it’s overwhelmingly likely this 2013 Range Rover sets a new SUV standard for the world.
JLR certainly thinks so: brand boss John Edwards expects annual sales to eclipse the previous best (32,000 units in 2007) by posting “a figure with a four in front” in the first full year, and it might even do better than that.
Range Rover Autobiography 4.4 SDV8
Price £84,320 0-60mph 6.9sec; Top speed 135mph; Economy 30.1mpg; CO2 253g/km; Engine V8 diesel twin-turbo, 4367cc; Power 313bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 516lb ft, 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic