What is it?
This is the fourth and easily the best all-new Range Rover to see the light of day since the iconic original appeared in 1970 and changed off-road vehicles forever.
That first Range Rover’s aspirations were modest by today’s standards – to make traditional work-based Land Rovers more versatile – and in that it succeeded brilliantly.
That original model looked so great, drove so well and was so quickly recognised as a fine machine simply to spend time in that over the years successive models came to be viewed as viable rivals to traditional luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-class.
The new 2013 Range Rover extends the rivalry. To the expected more imposing looks and sumptuous interior it adds a new, weight-saving aluminium chassis, a more efficient engine line-up that for the first time includes a high efficiency diesel V6 (still with 442lb ft of torque) that emits less than 200g/km of CO2, a very frugal figure in SUV and especially Range Rover terms.
2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography review
2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography review
And for the first time a Range Rover offers a truly spacious and luxurious rear package, increasingly important in fast-expanding export markets like China and South-East Asia. In short, this new edition is just like a Range Rover, only better.
What’s it like?
Our test car was a premium-level Autobiography powered by the new twin-turbo 4.4 litre diesel SDV8 (expanded from the previous 3.6 V8) now packing a generous 334bhp at 3500rpm plus 516lb ft of torque delivered between 1750rpm and 3000rpm, which turns out to be the rev band in which the engine spends most of its time, given that it’s attached to a standard eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, with paddle-shifts.
Prices for this model start at £94,695, but there’s an extensive options list that will offer owners the opportunity to specify cars in Bentley territory, costing up to £120,000.
Performance is effortless: The car has a 135mph top speed and zero to 62mph acceleration in a decidedly brisk 6.9sec yet the engine rarely gets close to its theoretical 4500rpm redline. You only really hear the engine as it starts: even the idle is subdued.
There’s a faint V8 “woofle” if you use the engine hard, but mostly the car just glides as if propelled by a giant elastic band attached to the horizon. Gearchanges are rarely felt, though if necessary you can shift to a Sport regime (which holds indirect gears longer) operate it manually via shift paddles for extra zing or engine braking.
None of the Terrain Response facilities will surprise a modern Range Rover driver, but a new generation system arrives with the latest Range Rover that offers an automatic setting that gauges driving conditions and configures throttle, clearance, transmission and chassis electronics to suit changing conditions.
2013 Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography review
2013 Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Autobiography review
How is it different from the outgoing car? Not much, in overall size. But its tracks are wider, it has 20mm more ground clearance, the self-levelling (and height adjustable) air suspension has more travel and it can wade through 900mm water pools, 20mm than before.
On-roads it feels tall but more stable that the previous model, with an even smoother ride, less sensitivity to crosswinds and even more relaxed, accurate steering especially near the straight-ahead. If the previous Rangie was easy to drive, this is even more so, and the margins are easily detectable.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the bracket, don’t miss the opportunity.
The new Range Rover SDV8 is no bargain — the cheapest in the range is £70,000-plus — but this new model is better in every respect, and its margins of improvement are instantly obvious, even over a machine as good as the outgoing L322 Range Rover.
Our settled opinion must await a direct comparison, but we reckon it’s overwhelmingly likely this 2013 Range Rover sets a new SUV standard for the world.
JLR certainly thinks so: brand boss John Edwards expects annual sales to eclipse the previous best (32,000 units in 2007) by posting “a figure with a four in front” in the first full year, and it might even do better than that.
Range Rover Autobiography 4.4 SDV8
Price £84,320 0-60mph 6.9sec; Top speed 135mph; Economy 30.1mpg; CO2 253g/km; Engine V8 diesel twin-turbo, 4367cc; Power 313bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 516lb ft, 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic

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