Range Rover SVAutobiography 2016 review

Supercharged short-wheelbase V8 version of Range Rover is luxurious and great to drive

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

After driving the long-wheelbase diesel SVAutobiography last year, we questioned why those spending £150,000-plus on the ultimate luxury SUV would want to save mere pennies when it came to running costs. This proves the V8 is the model to go for – it’s smooth, fast and refined, and feels just like the ultimate Range Rover should. We can’t wait to pitch it against the Bentley Bentayga later this year...

For many, the Range Rover already epitomises the definition of luxury – with high-grade craftsmanship, a spacious interior and all the toys one could want.

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But the team at Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division think there’s room for more. Enter this; the supercharged SVAutobiography.

Last year we drove the long-wheelbase diesel SV-A, and were impressed by the unparalleled premium feel and cosseting ride. But how does the shorter, sportier, V8 petrol model fare?

From behind the wheel it feels just as special as its long-wheelbase sibling, with polished wood on the steering wheel, dash and centre console. It gets the same knurled aluminium finish on the gear selector and buttons, plus swathes of leather.

In the rear, you’ll find plenty of space to stretch out in, although legroom is down by 186mm on the LWB car. You don’t get the super-exclusive ‘calf rest’ from the longer model, either, but even six-footers won’t struggle for leg or knee room. Land Rover is marketing this as the choice for keen drivers, however, and expects standard-wheelbase buyers to spend more time in the front than the back.

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Outside, there’s very little to tell the supercharged SV-A apart from the normal car. There’s some dark trim on the grille and badges, and at the back you’ll find four gaping exhaust pipes. Not very Range Rover, granted, but a hint at the burbling V8 under the bonnet.

The £9,000 two-tone paint option remains, although our car featured a more subtle single shade of silver. The 22-inch wheels are standard, too – offering an extra inch over the LWB model.

Plant your right foot and the whole car tilts backwards as the 2,500kg kerbweight shifts to the rear, surging forward at an alarming rate. The 5.0-litre V8 has been lifted from the Range Rover Sport SVR, boasting an extra 49bhp over the normal supercharged Range Rover.

It lacks the SVR’s boisterous bark, and doesn’t get that car’s suspension or chassis tweaks, either, but the SV-A is altogether more sophisticated, and wafts in a way only Range Rovers know how. The bigger wheels can send shocks to the cabin over sharper bumps or potholes, but this SVA is a delight – no matter whether you choose to drive or be driven.

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