What’s it like?
The most striking thing about our mid-spec Autobiography test car, initially, was the smoothness and silence of its straight-six engine. Land Rover makes big claims for both things – and the V8 is hardly unrefined – but the unobtrusive starting and the quietness at idle are extremely impressive. So is the linear nature of the generous power and torque delivery.
This must surely be the most refined Range Rover powertrain yet, outshining even the model’s petrol variants. It certainly has one of the most unobtrusive stop/start systems available anywhere, and only when you truly bury the boot with the transmission moved into its sportier setting to test maximum acceleration do you hear anything at all, a sort of remote and non-diesel bark. Engine vibration through the pedals, noticeable in outgoing models, is zero.
The lack of noise and vibration, working with the model’s soft, all-independent suspension, simply enhances the Range Rover’s reputation for long legs and unobtrusive cruising. Thankfully, this lack of engine intrusion fails to reveal any other untoward noises, such as unruliness from wind, road or transmission. A brisk journey from Land Rover’s test HQ at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, to the outskirts of London was one of the quietest and most relaxing this tester can remember: the new powertrain is clearly up to the duty it will have in the next-generation Range Rover, likely becoming the default choice.
There wasn’t much chance on that trip to test the model’s maximum-effort cornering, so we’ll have to take JLR’s claims as read, but the electric power-assisted steering is one area ripe for improvement. It’s reasonably sensitive but rather light and others are better. The brakes are brilliant: powerful, easy to modulate and working off a large and hard pedal. Under brakes, Range Rovers used to feel a bit overpowered by their own weight, but that’s a thing of the past.
There’s good news on the economy front. Working simply off the trip computer for my 125-mile Eastnor-London journey, while driving as quickly as the traffic would allow, the Autobiography delivered around 33mpg. If we call it a true 31mpg (because trip computers always err a bit on the manufacturer’s side), that’s still a fine performance for big SUV cruising well in the speed zone where a big frontal area can affect consumption. I’d expect that matching the claimed 30.8mpg WLTP consumption in day-to-day motoring would be pretty easy.