Ben Griffin finds himself in LA with nothing better to do than review the Range Rover Long-Wheelbase Autobiography Black. It’s a hard life.
In the age of ‘celebrity’ Jaguar Land Rover knows it makes financial sense to push away from its off-roading roots and into the lucrative luxury market. So here we are with the long-wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography Black Edition, a car that on the face of it sounds like a winner, packing all the usual Range Rover ruggedness, but with more luxury and leg room. Who could resist?
It makes great sense on paper, but as we cruised the superficial streets of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, we began to ponder whether throwing extra bling at such a hardy and rugged vehicle makes it less Kevin Spacey and more Joey Essex. Should Land Rover stick to tricky terrain or is it right to forge a path where the streets are paved with gold? We decided to find out.
Range Rover LWB Exterior
At first glance it seems like not a lot separates the Range Rover Long-Wheelbase from its shorter sibling, but there are a few key differences. It’s longer for a start — this version has a stretched rear door and the body has been extended noticeably. It also features a smattering of Autobiography badges that give the hyper-luxury game away.
There’s also more chrome than usual, including on the tailgate and front vents as well as 7-spoke alloys of the chrome variety and a unique grille up front. Each subtle adjustment is well implemented an doesn’t negatively affect the Range Rover’s strangely alluring box design, although we feel the chrome alloys look cheap up close ─ almost plastic.
Range Rover LWB Interior
Tall people will love this thing. Prince William is already driving one, apparently, and when you step inside you can see why the 6’3″ ginger monarch would probably get on well with it — it’s massive. The standard Range Rover was adequate for all but the tallest of humans, but with 7.3 inches of extra legroom, even NBA basketball players will fit comfortably inside this thing — you can swing a cat in it.
Land Rover has made the most of this additional space by allowing the rear seats to recline by 17 degrees, 8-degrees more than in the standard Range Rover. That’s not quite enough to lie flat, but at least you can gaze out of the sizeable panoramic sunroof without straining your neck.
Just about everywhere you look there’s some sort of gadget, wood or leather, making it feel luxurious and well equipped. We were half expecting a butler to pop out but to no avail. Cubby holes, cup holders and storage areas are plentiful.
Range Rover Performance
The Range Rover Autobiography Black Edition uses Land Rover’s epic 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine, and so is just as rapid as its standard equivalent, even though its gigantic proportions might indicate otherwise. Plant your foot and it surges forward at staggering pace, accelerating effortlessly on demand at just about any speed. The noise of the big engine at full tilt is addictive but not overpowering, owning to a fair amount of sound proofing.
The Range Rover feels right at home in everything from the winding hills of Santa Monica to stop/start city traffic. The gear changes are incredibly smooth and the suspension is composed without being too firm over lumps and bumps. You are always aware of the size of the Range Rover (in contrast to the logic-defying BMW X5) but it’s a really forgiving car to drive and one that makes you feel safe, at that.
If money were no object we would go for the boisterous V8 we drove, but 17mpg isn’t sustainable long term unless you’re a ginger prince. You’ll spend less time and money at fuel forecourts if you opt for the TDV6.
Range Rover Equipment
You would expect the most expensive Range Rover ever to include a generous equipment list, and the Autobiography Black Edition doesn’t disappoint. A panoramic sunroof and door blinds are standard on the long-wheelbase version so you can block out the sight of peasants while gazing up at the stars as heated massing seats caress your weary buttocks.
In the back you can expect much the same story. In fact, it’s actually more comfortable. There are fold-down tables for resting your gin and tonic and a pair of 10.2-inch displays located below the headrest of the passenger seats. The displays are quite chunky, but are a pleasure to watch — unless you’re prone to car sickness, of course.
The back seats also benefit from reclining and massage functionality as well as dual-zone climate control. If that’s not enough, you can activate a mood lighting feature that lets you choose from a range of 10 colours as you sit back and enjoy the quite excellent, and easy to use, audio system.
Sadly, the navigation software proved a bit annoying on our LA test route, which was especially annoying in a city that operates on blocks. It’s all too easy to misinterpret its instructions, and we weren’t alone in doing so. Even the LAPD officers tasked with ferrying journalists along the route revealed they’d seen their fair share of lost hacks.
If we had the money (and space in the garage) the Range Rover Long-Wheelbase would be a tempting choice. We think the standard version is one of the best cars on the road and the long-wheelbase flavour, with its added legroom and luxury, is more of the same in a slightly longer, more opulent, package.
By no means is it cheap, but at least the extra legroom, comfy seats and extensive gadget list might help you forget it costs as much as a house. If you want the ultimate 4×4 that’s just as at home ferrying around oil tycoons as it is driving over sand dunes, this is the perfect option for you. But not Kevin Spacey ─ he drives a Mini Cooper, apparently.
Model tested: Range Rover Autobiography Black Edition long-wheelbase
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 5 seconds
Economy: Around 22mpg
Top speed: TBC
Price: More than £130,000