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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic

The Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic is here to fill the multi-passenger vehicular void that no supercar could. Second only to the long-wheelbase Range Rover SVAutobiography in terms of price and size (and surpassing it in ludicrous names), the short-wheelbase Dynamic shares the longer vehicle’s rorty supercharged 550-hp V-8 engine but adds a specifically tuned performance suspension for those who prefer a whiff of driver involvement in their leather-lined transport.

Mark Stanton, director of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division, says a small contingent of affluent buyers would never consider buying a Range Rover Sport SVR but still seek a luxuriously appointed SUV with enhanced performance capabilities. Rather than leave this tiny subset of buyers looking upmarket toward the Bentley Bentayga for a premium-performance full-size SUV fix, Land Rover turned to SVO to create and assemble the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic—a “gentleman’s express,” in Stanton’s words.
The process of teaching this heavyweight to hustle is straightforward: Lower the ride height by 0.3 inch; rework the geometry and calibration of the steering knuckles, links, springs, and dampers for livelier response; and quicken the steering ratio by swapping in a unit similar to the Range Rover Sport’s with 3.0 turns lock-to-lock. Land Rover’s Dynamic Response system chips in to reduce body roll during cornering, and the Adaptive Dynamics system monitors vehicle movements up to 500 times per second and adjusts the dampers to maintain a composed and balanced ride.

What this translates to in the real world is remarkably accurate and precise steering offset by a slightly firmer ride. The car we drove rode on huge 22-inch wheels (21-inchers are standard) wrapped in 275/40 Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires with foam liners to reduce noise, yet the ride still felt more refined than that of the Range Rover Sport SVR, with harsh impacts being heard but rarely felt.

Highway travel is predictably serene, and traversing tight and twisty roads and two-tracks in the British countryside presented no undue challenges beyond the usual minor weirdness we Yanks experience when driving on the left side of the road in a right-hand-drive vehicle. Above all, the suspension improvements reduce roll in corners, which in turn makes maintaining speed through, say, a roundabout an easy and less concerning proposition. In the unlikely event an owner should press a Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic into serious off-road service, they’ll find a useful maximum of 11.4 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford bodies of water up to 35.4 inches deep.


The supercharged V-8 in the Dynamic is calibrated to produce 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, just like in the non-Dynamic SVAutobiography and the Range Rover Sport SVR. Gear swaps come by way of a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. An open stretch of road and at least partial assurance that we had escaped the eye of the U.K.’s ever-present speed cameras gave us confidence to explore the full travel of the accelerator pedal, which revealed the same smooth, low-end supercharged tug that we’ve come to love in the Range Rover Sport. The company quotes a zero-to-60-mph jaunt of 5.1 seconds, but we suspect our own test drivers will be able to shave off a few tenths. Either way, the sensation is nothing short of a rocket-propelled cabin cruiser, one that plows through wakes rather than bouncing off them. Give it full boot and the accompanying soundtrack from the bright-silver quad exhaust pipes is melodious, yet engine noises nearly disappear under light throttle, allowing the operator to masquerade as a responsible adult.

Although the theme of the SVAutobiography Dynamic leans toward understatement, there are a few interior and exterior details to distinguish this model from the rest of the lineup. Red Brembo brake calipers make their first appearance in the top-of-the-line Rangie here (previously, they were offered only on the Sport), and the side vents, grille, front-bumper accents, tailgate trim, and “Range Rover” script all are rendered in a Graphite Atlas finish. Interior details include diamond-quilted upholstery with contrast stitching, a perforated Ebony headliner, and Grand Black veneer on the dash and door panels, the latter accented in red. The rotary shift controller, start/stop button, and pedals feature a knurled finish, and the aluminum shift paddles are anodized in red with all interior color schemes with the exception of tan.

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