The Autobiography moniker was previously the preserve of owners that had gone down the bespoke route for their Range Rover. Now, the name is pinned to the tailgate of the most luxurious off-roader ever, Ian Robertson lives it up and tests the sumptuous newcomer
It only seems like yesterday that we all celebrated the Millennium, and made sure that our electronic devices were all Y2K compliant, and likewise, it doesn’t seem like the Range Rover has been about since 2001, but it has. It’s a testament to how right the design was when it was unveiled, that it doesn’t feel off the pace. With the Rangie being the oldest model in the line-up, if you exclude the Defender, Land Rover has mildly upgraded it for 2009.
For this model year, the Range Rover gains a new top-flight model named Autobiography – the same nameplate that has been attached to bespoke versions of the car previously. And while Vogue and Vogue SE models can already be described as well equipped, the Autobiography takes it to another level. There are 20-inch diamond turned alloy wheels and leather upholstery from the very best hides. In addition, a leather wrapped fascia and door cappings, together with a different grille and side vent treatment, and luxury mats with leather edging are all standard equipment.
Out on the road, the Autobiography seems to shrink around you, never feeling bulky or cumbersome. The standard air suspension soaks up bumps and speed humps with aplomb, putting many executive saloons to shame. The six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive, and the Brembo brakes bring the hefty weight of the Range Rover to a halt with confidence. What hasn’t changed is the glorious 3.6-litre V8 turbodiesel engine fitted up front. Its refinement is beyond reproach, but has now been eclipsed in terms of power, emissions and economy by rivals like BMW’s X5, equipped with the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder unit, at 286bhp, 34.4mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 216g/km. In comparison, the Range Rover develops 271bhp, achieves 25.4mpg and produces 294g/km of CO2.
But the raw figures are only part of the picture, as the Range Rover’s exquisite attention to detail, commanding driving position and overall feel is unsurpassed, and something that German and Japanese rivals can only dream of. And in any case, when you get to this kind of price range, running costs are far less relevant than style and status. With its lofty price tag, the Range Rover is often bought as an alternative to a high-end saloon, yet it’s still fitted with permanent four-wheel-drive, and has just as much go-anywhere ability as every other Land Rover in history. And with legs long enough to wade in water up to 70 centimetres deep, it bodes well should you live in an area blighted by floods, especially considering recent news reports.
RIVALS: BMW X5 xDrive35d SE, Mercedes-Benz GL 420 CDI, Toyota Land Cruiser V8 4.5 D-4D
- Engine: 3628cc, V8, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max Power: 271bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 472lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 3,500kg
- Combined Consumption: 25.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 294g/km (M)
- 0-62mph: 124mph
- Max speed: 9.2secs
- Insurance group: 17
Road presence, commanding view, beautifully smooth ride, exquisite build quality, off-road ability
Getting pricey, high emissions. Design is starting to show its age, which should be fixed by the facelift