Expert Reviews

Quick Spin: 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase Autobiography

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

Chances are, you do not need me to write an exposé on Land Rover’s dubious reliability record, report on the Range Rover’s ability to scale hostile terrain, or marvel at this Supercharged model’s flexibilty to run on either gasoline or clean, crisp hundred dollar bills. Just stuff a wad right in the fuel tank and watch its performance wake right up. Nope, this one strays decidedly away from the consumer advice section and gets filed right under voyeurism. So strap right in and let me tell you what it’s like to experience the pleasures of British Royalty wrapping me in leather while massaging my aching back.

Being the driver, I rarely got to enjoy these magnificent seats that just beg you to berate your driver and call him “James.”

First of all, the leather. Short of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, these must surely be the finest hides you can set your seat on. The colour of toffee and the texture of whipped cream, they are wonderfully supportive and filled with little air-bladder fists that can knead your back in a variety of different ways. Being the executive class Long Wheelbase model, the rear seats are as contoured and adjustable as the front seats, with the same massage, heating and cooling functions, supplemented by large, headrest-mounted individual screens paired with wireless headphones for each rear passenger. Being the driver, I rarely got to enjoy these magnificent seats that just beg you to berate your driver and call him “James.”

You won’t want to use those wireless headphones, and the screens will surely be a disappointment compared to the flat screen plasma TV at home, but only a night at the opera itself will compare to the carefully crafted audio experience in the top-of-the-line Range Rover. Meridian provides their Signature Reference Audio System with 1,700 watts of amplification power to 29 speakers throughout the cabin for uncompromised sound reproduction.

More amazing luxury features: Over the Top Luxury Car Features Guide

The only difficulty you will experience with the interior is the ingress, which, even at the Range Rover’s lowest “access” setting, is still quite a step up without running boards or a prostrate servant to provide that intermediary step. You may want to select your outfit with care with this operation in mind.

Aside from the benefit of lowering the large vehicle for ease of access, the Range Rover’s variable height will rarely be used for its intended purpose: traversing unpaved and hostile terrain with aplomb and ease. With an approach angle of 34.7°, departure angle of 29.5°, ramp angle of 26.1° and maximum obstacle clearance of 295 mm (11.6 inches), it can do things it would take a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen to do while providing quarters as plush as an S-Class. It seemingly has more electronic systems than a fighter jet to conquer any terrain or condition, but generally the Auto setting will adapt to conditions, and only severe trails would warrant the elevated ride height and low-range setting of the transfer case, though the Snow setting would obviously get a good workout in our climate. It could even tow 3,500 kg if you wanted to demean it as your beast of burden. No, the airport run is the more likely expedition for this limousine-spec Range Rover, and indeed it successfully navigated the twists and turns of Toronto’s Pearson ramps jungle.

Its turning circle of 13 m diameter is tighter than that of some small yachts, so best to have a long, winding drive up to your estate and a wide roundabout at the end.

Should you be assigned driving detail, you might be interested to hear of the specs available when your Lord or Lady is off to their first-class flight. A supercharged 5.0L V8 is the only powertrain with the Long Wheelbase edition, the 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 to 5,500 rpm more than enough to either waft the regal SUV up to highway speeds effortlessly. Should you find yourself unburdened with passengers of delicate sensibilities on an empty country lane, planting your right foot to the floor will lift the nose like a flat-hooded muscle car and launch this 2,412 kg leviathan to 100 km/h in under six seconds. It is dangerously fast, but the massive 22-inch wheels with 275/40R22 Continental Cross Contact LX Sports have the grip and brakes to slow it down quick enough to avoid icebergs and slow-moving tectonic plates. Just kidding, the brakes are quite effective, though no amount of brakes would make it feel safe to accelerate that much mass that quickly.

Of course, this isn’t a streetlight racer, and its manners are of far greater importance than its urgency. In this area it is outstanding. The composure is good enough to take turns at a good clip, but its primary goal of cosseting passengers may lead to some body roll if one gets a little too eager in corners. Far better to take things in stride and let the air suspension massage out any road imperfections with grace and subtlety. Big wheels and body control mean you might occasionally hear and feel a sharp "crack" from large, severe bumps, but anything less generally goes unnoticed.

Do you care about cargo capacity or fuel consumption? No, I’m going to continue my stereotypes here and assume that you have people to worry about those kinds of things. It’s good to be king.

Care more about Sport: 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

Anyhow, we won’t pore over the specs or the engineering brilliance and weight savings of the aluminum frame and mundane details like the infotainment system. This is the Autobiography trim of the Long Wheelbase Range Rover, the flagship Land Rover. While Land Rover has its roots in a utilitarian vehicle that served British armed forces, farmers in British backwaters and aid workers and adventurers around the globe, its capability bred a following in ever more sophisticated circles, and the luxury amenities followed. At this point, it is the official weekend brand of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, countless other nobility, industrialists, entrepreneurs of various stripes and, of course, footballers. You can’t buy exposure like that. Us mere peasants can only dream of rolling around in a car that is so very lovely, emulating our pop culture heroes, its every stitch and seam of the finest materials and craftsmanship, but with a superb modern design and the latest technology. While I’m being slightly tongue in cheek, and our culture’s fascination with celebrity and royalty is a phenomenon I can’t quite grasp, the Range Rover Autobiography is truly fit for a king, and will make you feel like royalty, no matter how humble your roots are.

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