The hottest of the big Rangies, the SV autobiography Dynamic has 22” wheels, and a 405kw/680Nm V8 that is supercharged. It has a hatch back, and a hot engine. That makes it the ultimate hot hatch.
A Ranger Rover is the humble hot hatch the queen would buy. The royal family have used Range Rover since the brand began.
It is handsome, extremely handsome, and cuts a dashing silhouette as it glides by, and you do glide, on a cushion of air.
The distinctive shape, carries on a long legacy which started more than four decades ago.
Special Vehicle operations have laid their hands on the top standard wheelbase Range Rover, and it’s a cracker.
We drove the long wheelbase recently, and loved it, but the short wheelbase is more my style. It’s far less flashy! Yes, I was joking about being less flashy. You can read about it here.
Range Rover’s strength is that it looks the business without being over the top. More importantly, it does what it says on the box.
They’ve installed their flagship SV-fettled V8 engine, and some super-soft quilted seats, as well as an exclusive paint colour range. The modern SUV owner can “bespoke” themselves into a frenzy with a vast array add-on options.
The Ruffino Red, for example, is an $8,500 option that sparkles spectacularly in the sun. Flecks of red and gold make the surface fluoresce as if lit from within. Unlike many paint jobs, this one gets better the closer you get.
Unlike tacky plastic wraps, this effect will last.
22” wheels are standard on the Dynamic, and are certainly not for off-roading. They dress the big Range Rover in pretty shoes, as if it needed it any more bling.
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As you come to a stop, the air suspension lowers to allow passengers to alight.
The doors have a few tricks up their sleeves too. All doors have soft-close. The passenger doors pull themselves closed once on the first click of the latch.
The large 2-piece rear hatch is fully electric. The top opens from the dash, an external button, or with the bottom section having a button on its top edge which makes it swing downwards.
Like all big Rangies, you can close the top section and stand on the lower door for a better view of the track. Pressing the lower hatch close button partially opens the top hatch. The bottom closes, then the top.
This car is British engineering, and they have thought of everything.
The full-length glass sunshine roof opens to let the fresh air in. An efficient electrically operated shade keeps the cabin cool on hot days.
The exterior is drop-dead gorgeous with the signature LED running lights at the front. Equally distinctive are the rear LED lamps. It is very Range Rover.
The chunky look of the outside continues as you enter the uber-luxurious cabin.
Smart entry means leaving the key in your pocket for the duration. Pressing the starter button brings the electronics to life. The screens fire up, and the gear selector rises majestically from the centre console.
There, you’ll find the off-road driving mode selector, but the car will cope well if left in AUTO. Low range, electric parking brake, start/stop, and suspension height are laid out on a console trimmed in aluminium.
Beside them, cup holders are concealed under a soft-close cover.
The centre stack is where all the action happens.
Simple climate 4 zone controls can be quickly fettled with direct selection, but more options can be found in the Climate Menu. This too can be quickly accessed by a Climate Menu button above.
Frequently used controls can be found fast. They have physical buttons, so muscle memory does the hard work for you.
The Climate Menu also controls the seat heating and cooling for all four occupants, as well as massage for the front seats. The leather is butter-soft, and the Autobiography name is monogrammed on the seat back.
The door controls for windows, door locks and seat memories fall easily to hand.
The reverse mirror dipping can be set by selecting reverse, positioning the mirrors downwards to your personal preference, then pressing M and position numbers 1, 2, or 3.
From then on, whenever you reverse, the cameras come on, and the mirrors dip, to make sure you don’t scuff your $1,150 rims. Replacing those could be an expensive hobby.
The centre LCD screen has touch input, hoorah! But, no apple Carplay drat it all.
As good as console mounted knobs are, nothing beats directly touching the option you want. Be sure to take a micro-fibre cloth to get finger marks off.
This clever screen has a TV receiver. There are also rear screens, but the front screen has a two-way function. All 3 passengers can watch different video or TV channels.
The front passenger can even watch while driving with the sound coming through on headphones. Entertainment is only available via the headphones to avoid driving the chauffeur potty.
The two-way screen allows the passenger to watch TV while the driver sees only the driver-focused apps.
The driver’s instruments have been replaced by a virtual dash. A single LCD runs the full width of where the speedo and tacho would normally be.
You can reduce the speedo, fuel gauge, height indicator and temperature to a strip across the bottom of the screen. the top 7/8 of the screen is then used for the map for Satnav. That leaves the centre stack screen free for other things.
Everything you touch, feels luxurious.
There is a full suite of safety gadgets too. Active lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, and auto emergency braking to name but a few.
The cameras can be switched to give a range of different views including 360 top down. You can even poke the nose forward to see what traffic is coming on a blind T intersection.
Once moving, the V8 sings. The 8 speed auto is always in the right gear with a flexible range that gives the 405kw permission to sprint whenever needed.
Highway driving is a gentle wafting experience.
You don’t feel a thing, and for most of the time, you don’t hear anything either.
Steering has a strange feel at first, but in no time, you’re throwing the big SUV around like it is a tiny city car.
Range Rover defined the SUV. Before it, there was only camping.
Our test returned a combined, and rather unheard of, 12.2 L/100k. Remember, it weighs almost 2.5 tons, and has a supercharged 5.0L V8.
Should you want to tow your horse float, it can weigh 3,000kg with braking. You can load a trailer up to 750kg without brakes.
Towing is one area where Range Rover excels. Anti-sway applies a dab of brake to individual wheels if the trailer wants to sway. It means force in the opposite direction of the trailer sway, negating it completely.
Cornering is extraordinary. The computer is working the abacus overtime to adjust the air suspension to keep the chassis just so. It tightens up to keep the body from toppling over.
Not only that, but the system is watching, ready to apply dabs of brake here and there to thing things neat and tidy.
You just can’t get better.
Off-road, well, it is a Range Rover. I didn’t take the $336,000 car off the bitumen. Best not I think.
Rob Fraser from OZ Roamer, local off-roading expert, explains the difference between four-wheel-drive, and All-wheel-drive. High/low range, and the way power is used on each wheel is the main difference.
A clever locking diff limits wheel-spin making getting bogged up to the door handles less likely. The clever electronics are even more capable, and you can raise the suspension to off-road mode for almost 300mm ground clearance.
You might want to consider bush-bashing tyres with high sidewalls. Low tyres and big rims are not your friend where rocks and ruts are concerned. Our SV had the optional Wade Sensing, which give you a readout on the TV screen.
900mm is the limit, but as always, never enter fast moving water, certainly never enter flood water. No amount of clever engineering can negate the fury and power of nature. I can’t emphasise this enough.
Never take risks in or around water.
It is a waste that it will probably never see anything more challenging than a gravel drive, but it is there if you need it. It takes glamping to a new high.
While it is true Range Rover buyers probably won’t go camping, it is one of the most capable vehicles in that niche. There is plenty of space too.
The rear cargo hold will fold almost flat if you don’t need the back seats. They fold by means of an electric button inside the cargo hold. You can do the lot from the rear hatch.
You don’t even need to move the front seats if the rear headrests get close.
That all happens automatically. The front seats move back again once the rear seats halve folded down. How many times have you had to schlepp around to the front to move the seats, or take the head rest out of the back seats when they got stuck half way down?
If you want to see something really impressive, try the parking assistant. Watching a small office block park itself is a sight to behold. Automated parking isn’t perfect, at least not yet. But it is as good as it gets.
Some brands say people don’t use it, because as yet, they’re suspicious of it.
Speaking of auto steering, the lane keeping assistant applies force to the wheel if you stray. You can turn it off if you don’t like it. It comes in handy on long trips. I turned it off for part of my time with the SV. The beeps can be annoying.
My favourite JLR car was Jaguar’s XJ, but I’m swayed.
As beautiful as it is, it doesn’t turn heads in quite the same way as a Porker, and isn’t as showy as the Mazzer. Nor does it have something to prove like the Bentley with its unpronounceable Bentayga. The Porker and Bentley are both VWs, and the Mazzer is a Chrysler.
Of those examples, only Range Rover is a proper 4WD, and much as the others pretend to be anything other than common or garden variety AWD, they aren’t.
Range Rover could easily leap continents in a single bound, but probably won’t, and that’s a shame. A long drive will leave you exhilarated rather than plain old knackered. You can have a massage to relax, while the electronics keep an eye out for you.
You always need to remain alert of course, but having a nanny on board can’t hurt.
It is no harder to drive than a hatch, once you get used to it. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Nuts and Bolts:
Price: $316,000 (as tested $336,210)
Engine: 5.0L Supercharged V8, 405kw/680Nm,
Transmission: 8 speed intelligent auto
0-100: 5.4 seconds
Weight: from 2,465kg