WATCH | New Range Rover Sport Autobiography is bigger and bolder than before. We drive the R2.2m SUV

The vehicle that virtually invented the premium SUV segment returns bigger, bolder and more opulent than ever. Contributor Wheels24 Ian McLaren asks if it’s still “the car for all the reasons”, though.

Unveiled in June 1970, one of the marketing advantages associated with the first generation Range Rover was that this vehicle’s broad mandate and inherent off-road capability would take it on a journey “from farm to opera”. Fifty-one years later, in October 2021, the all-new fifth-generation car made its debut at the Royal Opera House in London. With some 500 deposits already secured in our marketplace, this flagship model is now available in South Africa.

Originally designed to take on the likes of the American market Jeep Wagoneer, the first Range Rover derivative to roll off the production line featured a three-door profile, distinct styling cues and a sealed interior. Its foundation is derived from 22 years of off-road experience acquired through its Land Rover-badged siblings.

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2022 Range Rover Sport Autobiography

Quickly establishing itself as a favorite with an adventure-seeking public who would soon begin to demand an extra touch of luxury, the Range Rover brand’s reputation would be enhanced by images of the British Royal Family enjoying the times of local hunting and riding trips. in their personalized “Rangies”. At the same time, they also became the official means of transport on the occasion of visits by the Queen to the “waterfalls” of the African continent.

While a 5-door derivative would be added in 1981, even the long-wheelbase example of the first generation Range Rover – offered in 1992 – would be lost behind the profile of the later version.

Measuring over 5 meters long and 2 meters wide, the newest flagship model in Jaguar Land Rover’s modern range is sure not to be confused with anything else on the road. And yet, with the thoughtful use of slim LED exterior lighting, recessed door handles, subtle contours and a characteristic floating roof, the car still looked impressive and sleek in the metal.

2022 Range Rover Sport Autobiography

2022 Range Rover Sport Autobiography

Available in both standard and 200mm wheelbase versions, the latter can be ordered with a folding third row of seats.

Housed in one of the quietest cabins I’ve seen to date, it’s clear that the Range Rover brand mandate has evolved over the years. From the waterproof vinyl upholstery to the plastic dashboard of the first car, the new iteration emphasizes first-class comfort and opulence. It remains a fully fledged and impressively capable member of the Land Rover family, almost secondary in terms of marketing appeal.

Highlights of the new car’s cabin include its material value, clean layout and class-leading comfort. A crisp 13.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and even larger, configurable digital instrumentation are part of a Privi Pro setup that catapults this majestic transport into a future-ready horizon. On that note, a plug-in hybrid and all-electric derivative will be introduced in our local market by 2024.

A hefty product even in its base configuration (although there’s obviously nothing quite like it when it comes to ordering a Range Rover), two key tech upgrades included as standard are responsible for managing that mass.

While a dual-valve air-sprung suspension handles road imperfections admirably (including on gravel) and maintains overall balance, this system can also increase the vehicle’s ground clearance to a higher height than offered by the current conquering Land. Rover Defender. Incorporating the brand’s latest Terrain Response II system, the new Range Rover offers more off-road potential – including a wading depth of 900mm – than will likely ever be needed.

A boon in terms of the vehicle’s handling both on-road and off-road is the inclusion of rear-wheel steering. Able to rotate up to 7.3 degrees at low speeds, this technology effectively shortens the car’s wheelbase, otherwise 2,997mm, to provide a turning radius that matches a modern compact sedan.

2022 Range Rover Sport Autobiography

2022 Range Rover Sport Autobiography

Available at launch with three engine options, it’s tempting to assume the rorty performance offered by the marque’s 4.4-litre V8 turbo petrol option is the default transmission choice. Instead, the refined running of the D350 derivative’s straight-six turbodiesel model impressed most for the duration of this car’s local launch list. Mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission, this 257kW/700Nm unit offers a claimed fuel consumption of less than 8.0 litres/100km.

While there are more dynamic modern rivals (including the BMW X7) and alternatives that claim to offer higher levels of opulence, it’s hard to argue that the car that invented this premium SUV segment doesn’t still not reign supreme.

Pricing for the range starts with the Range Rover Sport D350 Dynamic S from R2,001,200 and R2,252,300 (D350 Autobiography model), up to the range-topping P530 First Edition from R3,011,600.

All Land Rover vehicles come with a standard five-year or 100,000 km Land Rover Care warranty and maintenance plans.

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