Road Tests

First Drive: 2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic

Not quite Autobiography, not quite Dynamic

Welcome to the niche inside the niche which was already inside another niche. We’re not talking about a run-of-the-mill Range Rover here, not luxury galore (Autobiography) and not extreme dynamics (SVR) either. We’re talking about the 2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic. It’s Autobiography and Dynamic wrapped in one, a combination that’s about as an acquired taste as vanilla ice cream topped up with balsamic vinegar. But first things first.

The SVA Dynamic sits on the standard Range Rover wheelbase, but its suspension underwent modifications to its knuckles, steering arms, springs, and dampers. Its ride height is marginally more ducked and its steering has been reprogrammed for a touch more turn-in enthusiasm. Complete with plenty of bling inside and out, this new pull-me push-me Range Rover ain’t cheap at $172K.

Predictably, performance doesn’t really enter the equation here — it is simply there for the taking with 0-60 mph acceleration coming in a matter of 5.1 seconds onto a top speed of 155 mph. Its mid-range grunt is about on par with an Airbus A319 preparing for take-off. And you guessed it: its hefty fuel consumption is a good reason for Big Oil to pop a cork. But right now, the 28.8-gallon tank is full, so let’s go for a drive on the B-roads and by-lanes of the Cotswolds, shall we?

The ride? Substandard at best, even though the test vehicle was shod with giant 22-inchers. Likes? Most motorways, smooth A-roads, long undulations, sleeping policemen. Hates? Cat’s eyes, potholes, broken-up blacktop, expansion joints, low-speed undulations, camber changes, aquaplaning grooves — just about any type of vertical irritation. There is no doubt about it: what this Range Rover version needs more urgently than any other model of the marque is a comfort mode for its air springs and shock absorbers.

Sadly, the list of complaints doesn’t end there. For instance, directional stability leaves a lot to be desired as soon as the vehicle encounters dips, bumps, and other seriously uneven surfaces. The response is a fidgety steering, an excited ESP warning light, and, worst of all, a loss of confidence. The brakes are also not exactly perfect. In normal use, you wouldn’t notice this deficiency, but at the foot of longer downhill stretches and through the grid of 90-degree bends that are common in rural England, increasing fade paired with mounting pedal pressure makes one wish for carbon-ceramic rotors (not available as an option).

On the credit side, the electro-mechanical anti-roll bars are a welcome contribution to fast, flat cornering, and we did give her the stick from start to finish. Handling is neither tricky nor dreary. Even though mild understeer prevails, feeding torque progressively while avoiding excessive steering angles helps to keep undue responses to a minimum.

The big-bore supercharged V-8 is a beautifully vocal engine, and with 502 lb-ft of torque peaking at a narrow 3500-4000 rpm, the hyper-Range kicks butt from the word Go! That’s the good news. The bad news concerns the throttle response, which is Autobiography-relaxed over the first third of the pedal travel and then suddenly Dynamic-rushed until the accelerator hits the firewall. This calibration results in quick-tempered tip-in, tip-out behavior, which is at odds with the car’s gentlemanly character.

Those who enjoy turning heads en route to the club may be tempted by the dealer-installed body kit, which adds a touch of boy-racer varnish to their behemoths. This body kit is the work of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operation (SVO), a sidekick modeled after the bespoke divisions of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. For around $25,000 plus tax, you get the full beauty treatment complete with paint job of choice, leather to match, and exotic trimwork. Triple the initial investment and Land Rover will even armor plate the carriage, spray it in matte British racing green, and fit a swiveling rear seat for the bodyguard.

2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic Specifications

PRICE $171,990
ENGINE 5.0L supercharged DOHC 48-valve V-8/
550 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 502 lb-ft @ 3,500-4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 14/19 mpg (city/hwy)
L X W X H 166.7 x 69.9 x 50.6 in
WEIGHT 5,417 lb
0-60 MPH 5.1 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph

Buying Guide
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17 City / 23 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

32 / 83 cu. ft.