An Icon Reimagined And Remastered. The Range Rover Autobiography

Throughout the progression of automotive history, the world has witnessed a number of iconic cars that have managed to become unmistakable emblems of what they represent. Think sports car and you would probably picture a red Ferrari in your head. Mini would perhaps be the first name that pops up when you think of an iconic retro hatch. But think of an SUV, and you’re probably envisioning one of the most iconic feats of engineering in automotive history; the Range Rover. First introduced in 1970 by Land Rover, the Range Rover has proven to be a pioneering vehicle, often credited with creating the luxury SUV segment. Combining off-road capabilities with high-end features and comfort, the Range Rover’s innovative design and blend of on-road and off-road performance quickly made it a universally recognised symbol of automotive capability. 

The Range Rover, an indomitable symbol of British engineering prowess and design excellence, stands as a timeless testament to the fusion of on-road and off-road capabilities. Having etched its name in the annals of automotive history, the Range Rover is more than just a vehicle; it’s an icon that has travelled across the world, and conquered most of it in the process. But fast forward to 2023, and the Range Rover has strayed far from its utilitarian roots, transforming into a rather opulent and luxurious show of wealth for the world’s rich and famous. So, more than 50 years on from its inception, how much of the original icon’s personality still persists in the latest iteration? We spent a few days with Land Rover’s MY 2023 Range Rover Autobiography to find out.

The Range Rover’s exterior design has consistently evolved over the decades, seamlessly marrying its classic silhouette with modern sensibilities. From its inception, the iconic clamshell hood, distinctive floating roof, and bold lines have been emblematic of its visual identity. With each iteration, the design has evolved, embracing contemporary styling without compromising its rugged, old-world charm. The latest fifth generation of the Range Rover borrows a lot of styling cues from its predecessors, especially from the last outgoing generation, with Land Rover employing the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. When encountering the vehicle at first, it’s hard to overlook the sheer size of the thing. With the long wheelbase version measuring 5,252 mm in length, 2,209 mm in width and 1,870 mm in height, the massive footprint of the SUV and the high step into the cabin is enough to make first impressions intimidating. But the latest redesign of the Range Rover has done wonders to make the luxury SUV feel less intimidating and more understated. Well, as understated as a Range Rover can be. 

The front fascia now features an even more minimalist design, with clean lines and a tasteful combination of gloss black and brushed metal accents. The front end of the Range Rover continues to be a menacing presence in your rear view mirror, and the gigantic grille now houses a stylish geometric pattern with less chrome, creating a design which is premium but not ostentatious. Down the sides, the floating roof design with its subtle slope helps make the SUV’s proportions feel tighter than they really are. The strong shoulder line running the length of the vehicle, the iconic Range Rover side blade design, and the massive 22″ gloss black and grey alloy wheels are the only defining characteristics of the Range Rover’s otherwise simple side profile, which when combined with the flush door handles gives onlookers the opportunity to fully take in the stately stance of the Range Rover. The rear end is where Land Rover has made the biggest design changes, and the overall back end looks fit to be on a concept car. The completely redesigned tail lamps are housed within the gloss black accents, creating a stunning and seamless design which leaves you wondering where the tail lamps really are. Land Rover has done a fantastic job with updating the design of the Range Rover, striking the perfect balance between classic and futuristic. It still looks like a Range Rover through and through, but no one can accuse it of looking dated or dull. The design is simple, clean and impactful without shouting its credentials. In short, it’s an icon remastered.

While the exterior of the Range Rover Autobiography still bears resemblance to its ancestors, the cabin of the latest iteration is light years ahead of its predecessors. Stepping into the cabin of the Range Rover Autobiography is like entering a different world altogether, where the lines between an automotive experience and luxury living start to blur. The design of the interior is minimalist and extremely luxurious without sacrificing on usability and intuitiveness, and we especially loved the design of the two-spoke steering wheel with metal accents and the way the AC vents are integrated into the cabin design. Much of the dashboard is dominated by the gorgeous, curved 13.1″ touchscreen infotainment system, although thankfully the Range Rover still retains physical buttons and dials for frequently used functions, such as climate control and volume. Land Rover has rather cleverly included all climate functions within one dial, which provides heated/ cooled seat controls when pushed in and fan speed when pulled out. The touchscreen itself is one of the best in the business, with a clean and crisp UI which proved to be a joy to use every time we stepped into the vehicle. The system comes with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with dedicated shortcut buttons which make switching between the vehicle’s system and your smartphone’s system an absolute breeze. There’s a tonne of customisation in the infotainment system, and menus are clearly understandable and easy to use on the go. The Range Rover also gets a 13.7″ digital instrument display, which also features razor sharp graphics and smooth animations. Although customisability is limited and scrolling through menus using the steering controls can be a bit laggy, the stunning graphics and ability to have a full map view make it a joy to use daily. 

The overall interior design is marked by a tasteful opulence, meticulously crafted in a combination of some of the finest materials money can buy. The singular instance which can be flagged as an unintended departure would be the physical climate control interface panel, nestled amidst the dials. For some reason, the entire panel would move and emit a faint creak in protest, even in response to a gentle depression of a solitary button. Considering the high standards otherwise, a more tactile sensation would have enhanced the experience of using a feature, that needs frequent intervention.

The entire cabin of the Range Rover Autobiography is mostly finished in either high quality leather, exquisite wood veneers or brushed metal, and material and build quality that can hardly be criticised. The damping on most of the switch work is sublime, and mundane activities like using the indicator stalks or pulling door handles manage to bring a smile to your face. The softest leather swathes every surface, even the headliner, exuding a sense of luxury that can only be appreciated firsthand. The front seats are supremely comfortable too, with 24-way adjustability, massage functionality, Range Rover’s classic individual armrests and adjustable pillows on the headrests.

But where the Range Rover Autobiography truly shines is in its commitment to rear-seat passengers. The Long Wheelbase configuration especially ensures that rear occupants are treated to a sanctuary of unparalleled comfort. The extended legroom provides a setting rivalled only by a private jet, with the rear bench seats replaced by the “Executive Seating” package which provides fully reclining and massaging rear seats which are both heated and cooled. The rear seating experience in the long wheelbase Autobiography is truly second to none, as even more expensive competitors provide a lesser amount of space. The seats are plush and extremely comfortable, allowing passengers to sink in. Everything at the back is controlled via a fixed touchscreen unit housed within the electronically deployable armrest, which comes down with the touch of a button and stows away when you need to seat three at the back. At the touch of a button, the outer back seats start reclining, an under-thigh support comes up and the front seat moves forward and magically opens up a footrest. The touchscreen controls the rear seat adjustment and massage functions, window blinds, sunroof controls, cabin lighting and more. The armrest also houses a luxurious vanity mirror, and our test car came with the optional rear-seat entertainment package, rounding up an experience of unmatched indulgence. Having said that, the fact that you have to connect via HDMI to watch anything at the back is a tad disappointing. Rear seat automotive entertainment in general, isn’t quite where it should be. A mix of productivity (Zoom/ FaceTime integration, for instance) and screen mirroring capabilities can make the two individual screens far more useful.

The panoramic sunroof extending overhead provides an unobstructed view of the sky and fills the cabin with light, creating an ambience that transcends the ordinary and makes every journey feel special.

Other conveniences and features available include heated and cooled front and back seats with memory functions, a double glovebox, a full-fledged fridge under the front central armrest, wireless charging and plenty of USB slots, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, a crisp heads-up display, and the usual additions like 4-zone automatic climate control, auto headlamps and wipers. The Autobiography also comes with a stunning 35-speaker, 1,680W Meridian Signature Sound System which features active noise cancellation inside the cabin (including, through speakers in the headrests) to counter road noise, wind noise and other vibrations. The boot space is its own experience as well, with the iconic Range Rover split tailgate once again making a comeback. Both parts of the tailgate are power operated, and there’s also a button to lower the ride height of the car’s air suspension to aid loading and unloading. There’s acres of space, and the rear seats can be folded down electronically through a couple of switches located in the boot, to create enough space for two adults to comfortably sleep inside. The split tailgate design also means there’s space to sit on the lower tailgate and enjoy the view outside, with a backrest that folds up from the boot floor.

Under the hood, the Range Rover Autobiography comes with a choice of three engines. Our test variant being the P400 3.0 litre in-line 6 cylinder petrol motor, which does 394 bhp and 550 Nm of torque. Mated to the trusted 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, the engine propels the Range Rover from 0-100 km/h in a brisk 5.9 seconds, despite its hefty weight. Power delivery of the refined in-line 6 petrol motor is extremely smooth and linear, with the Range providing more than enough low-end torque for sudden overtakes. The engine is also extremely silent and refined, and suits the personality of the Range Rover rather well. The gearbox is relatively quick to shift down in automatic mode, and putting the vehicle into Dynamic mode quickens the transmission’s response even further, although there’s always the option of using the lovely metal paddle shifters for even quicker shifts. Overall however, the transmission is tuned for smoothness rather than speed, the steering is light without much feel, and the Range Rover isn’t the kind of vehicle you’d want to push too hard in the corners. There’s also a significant amount of body roll, which is to be expected in a vehicle this size, but what’s commendable is how the SUV’s air suspension manages to make the vehicle feel much more stable than you’d expect. You can feel the electronics working away to counter the massive amount of lean while cornering, especially when you put it in Dynamic mode. But the Range Rover is no sports car, and neither does it need to be.

What it does best is provide its passengers the experience of being in their own mobile oasis, isolated from the world and its chaos. The air suspension, which lowers the SUV to ease access whenever you get in or out of the vehicle, wafts over the road with a cushion of air between the vehicle and the road surface, making it feel like you’re literally riding on a magic carpet. General road irregularities hardly ever make their way into the cabin, especially at the back, and even major potholes struggle to rattle the Range Rover’s poise. The super-light steering also helps manoeuvrability in tight spots and city traffic, and the Range Rover’s rear wheel steering does wonders to shorten its turning radius and helps make the car feel smaller to drive than it really is. The SUV feels refined to drive, and even more refined to be chauffeured in. Of course, there’s always Land Rover’s extremely capable Terrain Response system when you want to put the Range Rover through its paces – wade through water, or tackle some mud ruts. But we doubt most owners will put their prized possessions through that, and the Autobiography feels most at home in Comfort Mode, covering long distances in utmost luxury and comfort. 

Few modern day vehicles achieve a level of perfection that the Range Rover Autobiography manages to. In its current form, it might just be the one which comes closest to earning that moniker of the ‘perfect automobile’. Its exterior design is a masterclass in aesthetic evolution, embodying a fine blend of tradition and modernity. The interior, both in the front and at the rear, transcends the ordinary to redefine comfort and indulgence. Be it as a driver or as a passenger, the Range Rover Autobiography gives you a feeling of unmatched confidence and comfort, and becomes your own mobile sanctuary. It might as well though, because at INR 3.16 crores ex-showroom, it’s costlier than many luxury homes. 

But that’s the price you pay to immerse into one of the finest overall experiences the automotive world has to offer. In every facet, the Range Rover Autobiography represents the zenith of automotive excellence, seamlessly blending heritage with innovation and setting a standard that will continue to be seen as the industry’s benchmark is so many aspects. As a complete package, the Range Rover Autobiography stands tall not only as a luxury SUV but as a true contender for the title of the ‘most complete automotive experience’ the modern world has to offer.

Check out our Instagram page for highlights, images, & videos of the Range Rover Autobiography drive.

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