- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 02 June 2011 05:01, Updated 23 November 2011 11:39
Why do women like men in leather? It’s that new car smell.
I changed that joke around because, apparently, if the sexes were reversed, against all logic, it would be sexist. Go figure.
Leather is the overriding theme of the Range Rover Autobiography. It contains an entire herd of cows. The seats, ceiling, dashboard – almost every surface is covered in it, and it’s gorgeous.
Adding to the classic effect, the car features wood polished to a piano finish on the large steering wheel and on the bits of the facia peeking out from the leather.
Talk about pimp my lounge room.
This thing has digital TV, a Harman Kardon stereo that is the best I have ever heard in a vehicle, air-conditioning and heating through each seat, a rear seat entertainment system with remote that can also take games consoles, a six-stack DVD player, a six-stack CD player and connections for your digital gadgets.
That’s on top of the usual fancy stuff you get with a luxury car – touch screen and voice controls for the navigation system, Bluetooth phone connection, surround parking sensors and what’s now a must-have at executive level, blind spot sensors in the wing mirrors.
It also has five cameras – two in the front bumper, one under each wing mirror and one above the rear window – which you can monitor separately, or all together.
They really help stop you chipping the 20-inch mag wheels and knocking over pesky things such as bikes and pedestrians and they are great fun for the passengers when you’re tootling down the road. They make it look like you’re doing race speeds.
But the most exciting feature in the cabin is the screen on which the front-seat passenger can watch TV or a DVD while the image for the driver on the same screen can be the navigation system. The technology is called parallax barrier and it is amazing. The Autobiography, which is a Range Rover Vogue in a dinner suit, is a big, heavy, square car and big, heavy, square things aren’t supposed to go fast or handle well. They are supposed to be frustrating lumps of get-the-hell-out-of-my-way. Wrong.
This car has a 4.4 litre, twin-turbo V8 diesel that has enough torque to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and can go from 0 to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds.
What’s even better is that it gets 11.5l/100km around the city even though it weighs a hefty 2.7 tonnes empty. On the highway, it gets 8.2l/100km. The company claims a maximum speed of 210km/h. Borrowing from Jaguar, it has a gear knob that rises from the centre console when you start the engine, which initially I thought would be hard to adjust to but it didn’t take long for me to prefer it over wrestling with a gear stick.
It governs an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters and sport mode. This adds to the virtual speedometer and tacho that appear on the screen in front of the driver, the electronic park brake and the four-wheel drive selections that also are controlled by buttons.
What it all adds up to is a big brute of a car that is one hell of a sweet ride.
I took the base model Vogue off road to go camping and ran into the wettest day in NSW in 10 years. The car splashed through mud and took on the sand ruts like it was having fun. I know I was.
Getting it ready to go rough – raising the height, engaging low range etc – is just a matter of pushing buttons. The vehicle is stable and well mannered and handled all the bad stuff with ease and comfort. I didn’t even have to raise the level of the stereo.
And I love the understated badging on the Autobiography – it has only one little silver name tag on the tailgate. The few people who know what you are driving are the ones you want to impress. It’s the motoring equivalent of “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Which brings me to the answer to that question – $212,500 in its base form, but it is the benchmark of luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles. All hail the king.