Show/hide navigation

2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic review: First drive

4.5

The Good

  • Potent mix of luxury and performance
  • Looks the part
  • Comfortable

The Bad

  • Can ride a touch harshly
  • That price

For those who want blistering pace, sheer luxury and to dwarf other motorists, the 2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic has you covered and then some. But is it worth £132,800?

Just a teeny weeny part of us feels guilty when driving an SUV. It is nice knowing you would come out best in a crash, even if you drove into a small oil tanker, and that high-up seating position is empowering, but cars like the Range Rover Sport will do you no favours with polar bears.

But then we remember the small number of SVAutobiography Dynamic cars that will be sold and the guilt soon subsides. Polar bears can swim, right? Plus, you know, it is a Land Rover, and who doesn't love a Land Rover, especially when it is as lavish as this one?

We headed to The Kitchen pub in Gloucestershire to see what the SVAutobiography Dynamic is all about and consider why you would buy it over a standard Range Rover or even the somewhat bonkers SVR Mr Rory Reid drove back in 2015.

What is the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic?

As the 'SV' part of its name suggests, this is a very special Range Rover. Effectively, the Special Vehicle Operations division has combined unnecessarily, but wonderfully luxurious SVAutobiography model with the brutality of the SVR troublemaker.

What you end up with is a £132,800, 542bhp off-roader that can out-accelerate and out-muscle just about anything on the road and has the boot space of a small warehouse. It is also hugely spacious on the inside, even if you ignore the long-wheelbase version, which drops the 'Dynamic' part of the name.

You can have the shorter SVAutobiography Dynamic version with just the one engine, which we will dribble over in a second, while the long-wheelbase can be had with the same supercharged V8, an SDV8 diesel or a SDV6 hybrid diesel.

How does the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic perform?

Amazingly well considering it is taller than some houses and weighs around 2,475kg. A pleasing mixture of firm suspension, light steering and all the torque means it makes you think you are in something considerably smaller and more agile.

This is hardly surprising when you consider SVO is responsible for the savage F-Type SVR and that the SVAutobiography Dynamic is tasked with competing with the Bentley Bentayga.

The deadened feel of the steering does remind you it is luxury cruiser first and foremost, but there is plenty of grip to lean on. Understeer inevitably presents itself but it is easily controlled and the shrieking of the tyres makes a spirited country drive feel more frenetic.

The ZF eight-speed automatic is near-faultless as it blasts through the gears, with only a slight hesitation in dropping down a gear when you introduce the accelerator pedal to the floor. Not that it matters because there are coloured paddle shifters for you to use.

The SVAutobiography Dynamic does benefit from being lower than the standard car and has a revised suspension setup designed to make it more chuckable, which is the case, but it can still deal with most road imperfections without being too jittery and harsh. Even on those enormous, arch-filling 22-inch alloys.

As for braking, the gigantic 350mm Brembo discs do anything but struggle to bring the car under control, further encouraging you to enjoy the engine to its fullest.

The downside of the SVO work is the added road noise, which makes it a less serene and refined experience. A standard Range Rover will be better in this department, but then the point of the SVAutobiography Dynamic is to be more exciting.

So how fast is the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic?

Certainly not as brutal as the Range Rover Sport SVR, which is lighter, but the gap is surprisingly small in a real-world setting ─ and we say that having driven them back-to-back. Both cars also share the fact they are easy to exploit regardless of skill level.

The 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol engine is sensationally fast to the point where it will make mincemeat of legal speed limits with very little effort. This is a car that could easily assist you in losing your driving licence.

One benefit of the V8 petrol ─ all 502lb/ft of torque (680Nm) of it ─ over its siblings is the engine note, which massages your ears at low speeds. That means you need not test the 0-62mph claim of 5.1 seconds for it to make you feel good, which is good when it will spend most of its life stuck in traffic.

If you do, however, go all out you are treated to a very linear surge of pace that sounds increasingly violent as you approach the rev-limit (think controlled nuclear explosion) and it is possible to put that power down before exiting a corner without a trip to the local A&E.

What if I can't forget about polar bears?

Do we really need to talk about this? There's really no need. Okay, so the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic is somewhat thirsty, at 22.1mpg combined (good luck achieving that), and it is a heavy CO2-breather, at 299g/km, so avoid standing next to it for too long if you value your lungs.

Admittedly, the Range Rover diesels are fantastic so it may be worth considering one if you prefer the long-wheelbase model. A combination of low-end grumble, four-wheel drive and mountain-moving torque makes it noticeably less thirsty and suits the off-road purpose of the car better.

So what does my £132,800 get me, exactly?

Glad you asked. Besides the twin-exit exhaust system that teases the potency of the SVAutobiography Dynamic, you get to sit on fancy perforated leather seats and enjoy maximum sunlight through the panoramic roof.

A 1,700-watt Meridian Reference Sound System, meanwhile, provides inhabitants with block-rocking beats and an accomplished sound that will put your average home sound system to shame. Let's also remember the SVAutobiography badge on the back if you like that sort of thing.

Then there is the climate and massage function, heated leather steering wheel and the latest version of Jaguar Land Rover's infotainment system, which supports smartphone gesture controls and is simple to use. Responsiveness has been improved greatly over the old system.

Our car also had the optional deployable tow bar, 10-inch rear seat entertainment screens and head-up display, which is a brilliant addition for keeping your eyes on the road ahead. All of those are no cost extras, by the way, but customisation can be had if you want the car to be more personal.

As for safety, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with queue assist will try to keep you in one piece.

Should I run down to my nearest Range Rover dealer?

That depends entirely on your bank balance and requirements. The SVR is faster and better suited to embarrassing other cars in a race, but it lacks the same level of opulence, while the Range Rover Sport is as speedy, but the £30,000 price difference is reflected in the level of extravagance.

If you want all the luxury first and performance second, but still want to upset the neighbours with a thunderous V8 and have oodles of interior space, this is your car. It has all the charm and composure of a Land Rover but with a more brutal, uncivilised edge. It's a ridiculous purchase, but a bloody fun one.

Key Specs

  • 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol
  • 542bhp
  • 502lb/ft (680Nm)
  • 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds
  • 299g/km of CO2
  • 22.1mpg (combined)
  • From £132,800

You should also read

Comments

Back to top ↑