Dream Drive: the Range Rover SVAutobiography
"The 5.0 litre supercharged V8 churns out a bonkers 550 bhp and 680 NM of torque"
If you love travel and you love motoring, you will have already enjoyed some of the finest driving terrain of Northern France. As a keen motorist, the trick is to find a remote, cosy, welcoming chambre d’hote within good reach of local towns, places of interest, the coast, and of course brilliant roads. Half an hour in front of a large road map revealed a tiny commune called Berrien, situated in the Finistere region of Brittany. In Berrien (just 40 km from Roscoff for ferries arriving from Portsmouth) there’s a newly established chambre d’hote, Maison des Maquisards.
A phone call to English proprietors Jacqui and Gary Middleton, secured us a booking for a couple of nights. A lovely couple they are, friendly and helpful, whilst Maison des Maquisard provided newly refurbished rooms, excellent personal bathroom facilities and, not least, lots of homemade food.
Even more exciting was our means of getting there. Fully equipped as you see here, this Range Rover SVA will set you back £148,900, and it is the closest you will come to a luxury lounge on wheels with stonking performance. It’s the ultimate mainstream Range Rover you can buy.
Yet what would appear to be a hefty price tag somehow isn’t when you include all the goodies. When the car was delivered we must have spent at least an hour exploring all the toys! There are too many to name, but standard features include a complete rear seat entertainment package boasting digital TV with two eight inch screens, two sets of WhiteFire headphones and a rear multifunctional media panel, USB ports and power sockets. Add to that an in-house disco courtesy of a 1700 Watt Meridian Signature hi-fi system. The front centre console is refrigerated, and the rear one has a full size bottle chiller. Add on electrically deployable tables with leather finish, thick luxury pile carpets with elevated rear footrests, customer configurable mood lighting and illuminated aluminium tread plates with unique Autobiography lettering, and life on four wheels just doesn’t get better.
Yet you certainly won’t be lacking performance. The 5.0 litre supercharged V8 churns out a bonkers 550 bhp and 680 NM of torque via an 8 speed automatic gearbox. The engine is multi-talented, somehow managing to wail and growl in the same breath. Close your eyes when the SV is on full chat and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some low, mean, wild, flame throwing exotica. This grin-a-minute growl raises eyebrows from all quarters, and on a couple of occasions we were encouraged to rev it for effect. So we did.
Yet to most well-meaning folk with their eyes open, we are in the world’s most capable off-roader that just so happens to double up as a chauffeur driven executive express, or one’s transport to Ascot, darling. Personally, buying one would involve part exchanging the house, but I could live with that just for the engine note; a sad individual, I know.
Having taken on the fast motorway journey to Portsmouth with dismissive ease, the ‘quick’ route to local attractions was disregarded in favour of the more challenging back country roads – strictly for ‘testing’ purposes of course. At the first opportunity of a long straight we soon relished 550 horses pulling at the helm. After that experience I’d pay anything for this machine for it can only be compared to a Learjet.
Being a Learjet pilot felt like fun until a tight right hander looming up ahead suggested braking might just help us all to live to pensionable age. It was at that very moment we prayed the brakes had enough power to tame this two ton plus machine. Yet the high performance ventilated discs (380 mm at the front and 365 mm to the rear) made a laughing stock at the cheek of questioning its competence. Further, four wheel drive assurance and finely tuned suspension ensured cornering was both sure footed and safe. It was soon obvious that our four wheeled palace is a serious driver’s tool too.
We certainly found some off-roading terrain, and the SVA needed to be deeper sprung in this case to give us the confidence to exploit its abilities. Yet trekking between towns and local attractions was a sumptuously comfortable breeze, and we can think of no other vehicle that does it better.
We city folk often overlook the finer things in life; the welcoming family feel of Maison des Maquisards, the relaxed pace and friendliness of the local markets, a ‘one-ness’ with nature on the entertaining country roads – and our muscle bound palace on wheels rounding the experience off to perfection.
• Price: £148,900
• Engine: 5.0 litre supercharged V8
• Max Power: 550bhp
• 0-60 mph: 5.1 secs
• Top Speed: 155 mph
• Average fuel consumption: 15.4 mpg
• CO2: 299 g/km
• Torque: 680 NM at 3,500 rpm
Images © Letherington Photography
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