What’s it like to be driven in an SVAutobiography?

Motoring writer Jim Westerberg spent an afternoon getting to grips with the unparalleled luxury of the Range Rover SVAutobiography – as a back-seat passenger. Here’s how he found the experience

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The Range Rover SVAutobiography is a “halo luxury model” for the brand – the most luxurious Range Rover ever, in fact. 

It’s designed and delivered by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, which focuses on top-of-the-range production models and various bespoke commissions. In the same way that the Range Rover Sport SVR aims for unrivalled 4x4 performance, the SVAutobiography offers interior lavishness that is second to none. 

Unsurprisingly, as SVO Product Manager Chris Barton explains, the model is popular with “businessmen and women in the UK, and in other parts of the world where it’s more common to have a chauffeur – so the person who buys the car will often sit in the rear seat.”

Range Rover SVAutobiography Long Wheelbase model

So, what’s it like to be a backseat passenger in the most deluxe Range Rover on the market?

Somewhere between sitting your living room and your office – but probably more comfortable than both. 

Earlier this month, I attended a road test for the new 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography. There, I was chauffeured through quaint towns and scenic English countryside in a supremely spacious Long Wheelbase model.

While it was tempting to just sit back and relax in the serene comfort of the rear seats, I managed assess some of the car’s plush passenger features. Read on to find out more. 

Interior Finish

You immediately notice the car’s ultra-premium interior – here in ebony/lunar colours with ebony leather headlining – which has new bespoke flourishes such as knurled aluminium on a range of fittings, classy hand-stitching and wood veneer finishes. Deep pile mohair carpet mats are also new to the SVAutobiography. The result is that the interior exudes quality and is beautiful to look at.

“At Special Vehicle Operations, we’re looking to extend the top end of Range Rover. There are plenty of people out there who love the car and want to do more with it – we’re giving them that opportunity.”

Chris Barton, Special Vehicle Operations Product Manager

Heated Massage Seats

If you’re not doing the driving in your SVAutobiography, it’s likely you’ll be spending most of your time in the rear seats. And why wouldn’t you? The semi-aniline leather rear executive class seats are extraordinarily supple and comfortable. The massage function – which has several pressure and direction settings – is easily activated through the centre console and can ease stress to help you relax after a busy day or on a lengthy drive. On a chilly November day, I was warmed through from the in-seat heating, without ever feeling uncomfortable, thanks to the four-zone Climate Control system that allows you to set your perfect temperature. 

Calf-rest

The calf-rest extends at the push of a button from the passenger-side rear seat. It’s a great feature, especially when combined with the rear-winged headrest and electronically powered, 17-degree seat recline. I usually find very difficult to fall asleep in cars due to neck and back pain, but even in the stop-start traffic of rush-hour Berkshire, I was soon reclined and nodding off. The long wheelbase model I experienced has 186mm of extra leg room compared to the standard wheelbase. Being around 5' 9", I didn’t need it – but taller passengers will surely appreciate it.  

Fold-out tables (top); rear centre console (left) and rear passenger-side calf-rest (right)

Fold-Out Tables

If working on the go is more important to you, the SVAutobiography’s fold-out, wood-finished tray tables will come in handy. Chris Barton explains: “We’re distinctive in having our tables come out of a centre console in the middle of the rear seat – most manufacturers have them coming out from rear of the front seat. As a result, in the SVAutobiography you haven’t got all the vibration of the leaver arm of the table reaching out, and you can use the rear of the front seat for other entertainment. Customers have fed back and said they really like it.”

iPad Dock & USB Ports

The fold-out tables are large enough to sit a small laptop on, but there’s also the option to attach your iPad to the table using the special dock. The lack of vibrations and perfect dock dimensions leave your iPad feeling very secure. This also leaves space to do some paperwork on the table – or, in my case, scribble away in my notebook. A USB port integrated in the table’s design also allows you to top up your smartphone battery on the move. These little touches really do make the car feel like a mobile office. 

“The technology expectation of a luxury product is more about what you need – as opposed to technology for its own sake. In our flagship luxury products, the technology that goes into the car is largely about supporting the customer in the use of that vehicle as a mobile office. That’s an absolute minimum.”

Paul Newsome, Special Vehicle Operations Director

Rear bottle chiller (top left); SVA interior bade (top right); 10.2-inch screens mounted on the rear of the front seats

Rear Bottle Chiller

Another easily accessible feature of the rear centre console which, the rear bottle chiller is a personal mini-fridge that comes with Special Vehicle Operations-branded flutes. You don’t have to be sipping champagne in the back though, of course – it can quite easily keep a few bottles of water or your sandwiches cool. 

Rear-seat Entertainment

The long wheelbase SVAutobiography provides twin remote 10.2-inch screens mounted on the rear of the front seats – as opposed to 8-inch screens built into the front headrests on the standard wheelbase model. You can either catch a film or follow the progress of your journey. This kind of technology seems like a necessity for someone who’ll be spending long periods of time as a backseat passenger. But what really raises the luxury bar is the Meridian Signature Reference Audio System, which has 29 speakers, sophisticated 3D sound technology and 1700W of power. You could feel like you’re at the Royal Albert Hall in the back if you want. Alternatively, you can keep things at a lower key by using the WhiteFire wireless headphones included. 

Range Rover SVAutobiography has rear window blinds for your privacy

Electronic Window Blinds

Whether you want privacy to focus on your work, or to keep out the glare of the sun while you try and catch up on some sleep, the electronic window blinds are a real benefit. Much like an electronic window, you just press a button to raise or lower the blinds. I thought they might make the cabin seem smaller, but in fact I barely noticed they were activated – apart from enjoying the increased sense of seclusion and lack of outside distraction.

InControl Connect

For the executive passenger, losing contact to the outside world at a crucial time is the stuff of nightmares. Land Rover’s InControl Connect package goes a long way to preventing this. The InControl Wi-Fi feature allows you to connect to the internet via a powerful in-car 3G hotspot. This reliability of the connection is better than your smartphone, as you connect to the local 3G network through the car’s powerful roof-mounted antenna.

The Range Rover SVAutobiography is available to order now. Download your brochure below or use our configurator to build your perfect model. 

Words: Jim Westerberg