When you’re climbing a 65-degree trail, all you can see is the sky. You have no way of knowing what’s beneath the wheels. Unless of course you have a total of five cameras feeding images from all around the car into the central screen. You can choose one or two of these and enlarge them. But all this is because the temperature outside was 42 degrees and I was inside looking at my camera feeds while getting an agreeable back massage on temperature-controlled seats and listening to one of the best car stereos ever.
Welcome everyone, to the Range Rover 4.4 SDV8 Autobiography — a car so versatile that you’ll do anything to get one.
Let’s start with the looks. It is massive; bigger than you think. And tall. At 6’, 3”, I couldn’t see over the roof. LR’s Gerry McGovern has gone down a very interesting styling route with the Range Rover. Like the new S-Class, it’s a perfect blend of subtlety and detailing. The whole body just has one clean shoulder line flowing down the side and a beautiful floating roof.
The styling is almost classical. You look at it and think ‘yes, this is how a Range Rover should look’. Imagine a car that looks so right that my only criticism of the outside is that the chromed grille is too blingy. You can sort that out by simply choosing something less chintzy from the options list. The interior is an ergonomic masterpiece. Even if you’ve never been in it, everything is where you’d expect it to be.
But more than the wood and leather and the wonderful heated/cooled massaging seats and all the brilliant and well thought out features, it’s the feel that lifts it above anything else. There’s a certain majesty to this interior that’s very hard to describe. It has fewer buttons than all its rivals and I love that.
It makes for a cleaner, more elegant cabin. The Germans these days pack centre consoles and dashboards with more buttons than the space shuttle but RR has resisted doing that and the result is, quite possibly, the best interior of any car on sale today.
This new Range Rover is about half-a-ton lighter than the one that went before and you can feel that in its construction. Some very clever engineering and extensive use of Aluminum have resulted in a huge car that weighs just a little more than German midsized saloons.
But a Range Rover also has to be brilliant with the cut-and-thrust of daily life. And it is. The cabin completely isolates you from the outside world. I did three peak-hour runs through Mumbai to test its runabout-ability and yes, it was intimidating the first time. But I soon realised that the visibility is great and the front corners are easily visible from the driver’s seat.
In short, it’s easy. On the open road, it cruised with a dignity hitherto unknown to an SUV — at 200kph. But the RR’s surprise was yet to come. When’s it’s off road, I doubt if there’s a single road-legal SUV that can do what this can.
We climbed at 65 degrees on loose rocks. We dunked it in the ocean when the water level was splashing the windscreen. We crawled along rocks at a 35-degree sideways tilt. And here’s the part that amazes me — the car didn’t flinch even once. It didn’t so much as spin its wheels in protest. That’s Terrain Response 2 for you – the most advanced terrain management system in the business.
Engine: 4.4 litre V8 turbo diesel (SDV8)
Gearbox: 8-speed auto with low range and paddle shift
KPL: 8.9 overall (as tested)
0-100kph: 6.9 seconds
Top Speed: 218kph
Price: 2.44 Cr. (Ex-Delhi)
The verdict on the Range Rover Autobiography 4.4 SDV8 is simple — it’s downright perfect. There’s just one thing though — are you going to rob the bank or shall I?...