Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
The limo fit for royals. The Maybach of SUVs. This is the long wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography. "So Land Rover is writing a book about itself?" a fellow motorist once asked me, referring to the cursive-styled Autobiography badge on the trunk door. I smirked and explained to him that it is frankly one of the most expensive Range Rovers one can buy.
The Autobiography trim, which costs an extra $35,000 on top of the $120,590 base price, let's you personalize your car with a wide palette of customizable options. It's almost like tailoring your own suit. You can choose from a dizzying array of 39 exterior paint colours, 22 of which are exclusive, 19 interior colours, 3 interior veneers, 3 headliners, a choice between 21-inch and 22-inch wheels, contrasting roof colours - the list goes on and on. Like your own set of unique fingerprints, nobody's Autobiography will be the same (well, the chances are slim).
The details that people tend to notice next are the elongated doors and the subtly placed "L" badge on the front fender next to the wheels. This is the long wheelbase version of the standard Range Rover (which was no McNugget on it's own) that stretches the wheelbase by a whopping 200mm to a total length of 5199mm. That's longer than two Smart cars parked in front of each other. But unlike analogous long wheelbase versions of SUVs (Escalade ESV, Yukon XL) that add that extra length to the rear trunk to make it look like a bulging hemorrhoidal cyst, Range Rover has allocated it to the rear seats that now has 186mm of additional legroom. Talk about a limo ride.
Throughout the week, friends and family have all had the opportunity to enjoy the luxury amenities that this Range Rover had to offer. To be honest, I felt more like chauffer than a driver, contemplating every now and then about signing up with Uber to ferry people around. Imagine the tips. My passengers would be treated to full semi-aniline leather seats that could recline back 17 degrees, their heads could rest on airplane-style winged headrests, they could choose between 10 different colours to light up the cabin and also adjust its brightness. They would also have the option of configurating their seats to be heated, cooled, or even massaged in five different ways.
Those afraid of the sun, like all Asian moms, would approve of the electronically adjustable sunshades and the ability to control the sunroof blinds from the rear. Hey there's even a cooler box in the middle for them to chill their Vitasoy. DVD screens are attached for rear seat entertainment, and to my surprise, you can actually watch your movies on the front seat display too. It will only work if you're rolling below 5 km/h or at a full stop but hey, even the chauffeur deserves to take a peek at James Bond kicking some ass. And a whole lot of action will be heard from the 29 Meridian speakers strategically placed around the cabin.
But when you turn off the audio, raise up the shades, sit back, and close your eyes, the synthetic silence and the perfectly formed cushions gives you time to think. And for some reason, the first thought that came to my mind was how many cows had given up their lives to make mine better? How poetic. Excessive? Of course. These are rear seats that could only be topped by the upper echelon of Bentley and Rolls-Royce, but certainly no other SUV. What is there not to love about this Range Rover? More importantly, what is there to complain about with all these five-star luxuries at your disposal?
Under the hood is the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine that produces 510hp and 461 lb-ft. of torque. In layman terms, that gets you from your house to Holt Renfrew before you can even spell out Autobiography. Even though it weighs more than 3 Smart cars combined, it can spring from 0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds (0.4 seconds slower than the standard wheelbase model). The 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox is incredibly smooth and has proven to be one of the best transmissions on the market. As always, the Range Rover LWB comes with all the off-roading technology that 99% of customers will never use. Just remember to dust off that switch every now and then.
Fuel economy with this Range Rover isn't as bad as you might think. We achieved an average of 15.8 L/100km with a mix of both city and highway driving. We drove almost 600km last week, and the weekly gas bill for the Range Rover cost us close to $170. But for a car this heavy and with an engine with that much displacement, the numbers actually surprised me, in a good way. As a comparative reference, our V8-equipped Dodge Durango R/T tester that same week averaged 19.2 L/100km. It just goes to show how much of a difference an aluminum chassis, a good gearbox, and a Stop/Start system could make.
I've driven many Range Rovers in the past but after driving its most opulent form, I've come to realize the one drawback of driving or owning a car like this - where you drive it and where you park it. I was heading downtown to catch a Leafs game and as I was running late, I scoured the congested outdoor parking lots for a space to park. Navigating past city cars and dodging pedestrians, I finally made it into an open lot. But as I entered, a menacing looking man appeared out of nowhere, eyed me down as if I was wearing a suit made of Benjamins, and slowly reached into his right breast pocket. Paranoid as I already was that someone was going to scratch my car, I flinched, thinking I was going to be looking through the barrel of a handgun. Instead he took out a voucher pad and scribbled down my license plate number. "Nice car. $30", he told me, "and that doesn't include my fat tip".
Eager as I was to avoid conflict or bartering with an idiot, I paid him an extra $5 on top of the parking fee. He snatched the money and looked at me, clearly disappointed it wasn't a $100 bill. I could already feel the tension between me and his condescending eyes. I even envisioned a text bubble floating above his head reading "Tip me better or I'll scratch your pretty car". Since when do you tip parking attendants anyways? Underground parking lots weren't much friendlier for the Range Rover either. Tight corners and countless white pillars of doom made it a test of patience and judgment of distance. At least there were a dozen cameras around the car and an option to lower the car's suspension to fit under those yellow clearance bars.
Throughout the week, everywhere I parked I received dirty glares from pedestrians, car spotters, and muggers alike. Draped in white and chrome wasn't the best way for this Range Rover to stay out of the crosshairs, rather the opposite. It says I've got money and please rob me. Well, at least it's better than that horrid matte pink BMW M3 I see driving around Markham all the time. But chances are that if you're going to spend $160,000 on this Range Rover LWB, you won't be driving it anyways. You'd hire a chauffeur to drop you off at the restaurant and pick you up when you're stuffed with lobster tails and caviar. Envious glares will be everywhere. Who wouldn't want one? And that's the problem.
型号 Model: 2015 Range Rover Autobiography LWB
顏色 Paint Type: Fuji White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $155,590
試車售價 Price as Tested: $158,330
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,120
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,199 / 2,220 / 1,840
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,413
引擎 Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged LR-V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double-wishbone with air springs, Adaptive Damping
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link with air springs, Adaptive Damping
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 380 mm, ventilated discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 360 mm, ventilated discs
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 17.2 / 12.5 / 15.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Continental 275/40R22