Range Rover 4.4L SDV8 Autobiography – A Signature Detail
Without question, the Range Rover Autobiography is an exceptional SUV, effortlessly combining comfort, style and refinement with unparalleled off-road capability. No other car manufacturer has seamlessly blended limousine-luxury with a vehicle capable of traversing waist-deep rivers, boot-sucking mud and vertiginous mountains whilst providing an executive airliner-class ride!
In spite of its size, the Autobiography is no slouch! Since 2012, the Range Rover has been designed around an all-aluminium monocoque bodyshell, significantly shedding kilos compared with its predecessor. That said, the Range Rover is still no lightweight weighing in at around 2500 kilos (2.5 tonnes!) However, the engine performance is reassuringly remarkable, with the 4.4L SDV8 diesel engine producing 339HP and 249 kW of torque at 3,500rpm for a 0-60mph sprint in seven seconds. Speed tops out at 135mph, so straight-line performance is impressive too, although the cabin is so well isolated passengers are unlikely to notice either the miles dropping away or the speedometer numbers rising.
The interior of this particular Autobiography featured ivory perforated semi Aniline leather seats with 24-way (yes, really!) heated and cooling seats.
In addition, driver and front passenger seats benefit from a massage feature whilst rear passengers are cosseted in Executive Class comfort. The sliding panoramic sunroof set into a suede headlining emphasises the light and roomy feeling of the rear seating area. Four-zone climate control should keep even the most dissimilar passengers comfortable while configurable ambient interior lighting delivers a choice of ten colours to suit any mood. For in-flight dining, the rear centre console hides two fold-out aluminium tray tables and a refrigerated locker with sufficient space for a pair of tall glasses and a small bottle. Luxury like this is almost worth surrendering the driving experience! Almost!
An existing client of UF Studio, the owner of this Autobiography fully appreciates the benefits of having a ceramic coating installed having previously brought two other vehicles in for New Car Protection treatments. This time, he booked a comprehensive New Car Protection Package, to include protection for the alloy wheels, glass and leather interior. UF also offers XPEL ULTIMATE Plus paint protection film (PPF) installation and the Autobiography’s owner was keen to have this installed on the front of the vehicle, incorporating the whole of the bonnet and door mirrors.
I’d previously had a car protected with PPF and back then I’d opted for a basic level of protection where the film only covered the front few inches of the bonnet. The unavoidable line where the PPF ended used to trap dirt though and I really didn’t like the effect. This time, I wanted the whole of the bonnet wrapped so I wouldn’t be able to see the film at all. – Range Rover owner & UF Studio customer
Using advanced elastomeric polymer technology, XPEL ULTIMATE Plus provides a protective, super slick covering that inhibits contamination from adhering to the surface whilst also guarding against the corrosive action of salt, birdlime, and other environmental and industrial fallout. In addition, XPEL ULTIMATE Plus carries a high degree of resistance to the damaging effect of UV and so does not become discoloured with exposure.
The owner had selected Carpathian Grey, an expensive paintwork colour option and, as stone chips can be a real problem for these vehicles, it made a great deal of sense to have the paint as protected as possible. So, UF Studio arranged for XPEL Ultimate Plus PPF to be applied. This is the latest evolution of self-healing PPFs – the film swells with the application of heat (from the sun, hot water, hair dryer, etc) and so fills any swirls or minor damage, preserving the appearance of the vehicle and the integrity of the clear coat. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
XPEL films are created using specialist software that produces highly customised patterns for precise coverage, with care taken to ensure there are no obvious seams. Cleverly, the polyurethane film can be stretched and compressed so that it follows precisely the curving contours of the vehicle for a perfectly clear, wrinkle-free finish. Installers must undergo extensive training to be qualified to fit XPEL and, once installed, the film carries a ten-year warranty.
As the Autobiography had been driven for a couple of weeks prior to arriving at UF Studio, it had collected bug squash and other environmental fallout, particularly across the front of the bonnet and Atlas grille. Prior to PPF being installed, the paintwork needed to be absolutely pristine and completely free from any type of contamination.
The film will accentuate any bonded contamination stuck beneath it and prevent the film from laying completely flat to the paintwork. The surface must be devoid of fallout of any kind and of course, as the PPF will be sealing the paintwork, any swirls or scratches need eliminating too. – Matt Back, UF Studio
First, degreasing solution was sprayed onto the wheels and up into the wheel arches to eliminate diesel splatters and oil-based contamination. After being allowed to dwell for a few minutes, this was rinsed away. Wheel cleaner was sprayed onto the wheels before each was cleaned using Wheel Woolie Wheel Brushes. These long-handled brushes are available with microfibre heads of different sizes, perfect for fitting through the 9 split-spoke design of the Autobiography’s twenty-two-inch rims, to clean the rear. After rinsing, the bodywork was also degreased to eliminate oily road grime. Once the solution had been rinsed away, the Autobiography was treated with Ultimate Snow Foam, taking care to ensure every part of the car was covered including the wheel arches and wheels. The thick, clinging foam lifts larger particles of dirt and grit away from surfaces, encapsulating them within the foam and allowing them to be easily rinsed away.
Some squashed bug residues remained bonded to areas of the bonnet, front bumper and grille so Gtechniq W8 Bug Remover was sprayed on and allowed to dwell for a few minutes. This allowed the active ingredient to dissolve the sticky remnants so they could be easily rinsed away without the need for rubbing at the paintwork with a wash mitt.
Not only is bug squash sticky but it is also corrosive. Rather than simply bonding to the clear coat, it will etch into the surface. With the high temperatures we’ve been experiencing recently, etching had occurred in a few places. These would require machine polishing to bring the bonnet up to the high standard of finish ready for the PPF installation. – Matt Back, UF Studio
The decontamination processes now complete, the Autobiography was carefully washed using the Two Bucket Method. This process keeps wash water separate from rinse water, preventing cross-contamination as dirt lifted from the surface is left in the rinse water, rather than being added to the bucket containing car shampoo – which in turn could allow it to be reintroduced to the paintwork.
Washing the Autobiography from the top down, the wash mitt is loaded with soapy water from the Wash Bucket and a section cleaned. The mitt is then rinsed in the Rinse Bucket which contains a Grit Guard, a grill in the bottom of the bucket that the mitt can be brushed against. This releases particles of dirt and grit from the deep pile of the mitt. Once the mitt wrung out, it is reloaded with the wash solution and the process repeated until the car is completely clean.
The suds were rinsed using a jet of water from a pressure washer before an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter was attached in-line with a hose to deliver a final pure water rinse.
The Aqua Gleam contains a media that neutralises impurities in tap water eliminating the potential for white water spot marks. The media becomes exhausted more quickly if used with a pressure washer and, as the suds have already been thoroughly rinsed, the pressure from a tap is sufficient to give the car a pure water drench. At home, you wouldn’t need to dry the car off even, as long as it wasn’t left in direct sunlight – with the impurities neutralised, the car dries with a lovely shine and without watermarks! – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The Autobiography was brought into the studio where it was placed on a hydraulic ramp allowing it to be raised or lowered for easier access to all areas. A BigBoi BlowR Pro was used to chase water off the panels and out from natural trap areas such as mirror housings, grille and around the wheels. The BlowR Pro uses two 1400-watt motors and BigBoi Temperature Technology (BTT) to blast filtered air heated to twenty degrees above ambient air temperature, drying a car up to 80 times faster than conventional methods.
Ensuring every section of the car is completely dry is essential prior to applying a ceramic coating, as many coatings will lose optical clarity if they come into contact with moisture before they’ve been allowed to fully cure. It’s important too with the PPF being installed as moisture under the film will cause it to bubble and peel off the surface. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The Carpathian Grey metallic paintwork was inspected under SCANGRIP studio lighting which would reveal swirls, staining, etching and any other type of damage. Areas of concern were noted on a Vehicle Appraisal Sheet for reference during machine polishing.
In addition to the bug etching on the front, there were some faint swirls on the rear near-side quarter and on all the piano black trim.
As the paintwork swirls were not severe, they were eliminated using Menzerna Super Finish Plus 3800 and a RUPES Yellow Polishing Pad. Super Finish Plus 3800 contains exceptionally fine diminishing abrasives and combined with the open cell foam pad, produced sufficient cutting power to remove the swirls and leave the surface with a high gloss shine.
The piano black trim was corrected using a RUPES BigFoot LHR 75E Mini dual action polisher and a 4-inch/100mm Yellow Foam Pad. The smaller head of the Mini concentrates the polishing action over a more restricted area, increasing the cutting power and producing swirl-free results.
To eliminate the etching on the front of the Autobiography, Menzerna Super Finish 3500 was used. With a slightly bigger abrasive component, this was enough to remove the signs of bug etch from the bonnet.
The bonnet, bumper, front wings and mirror housings were now ready for the PPF to be installed. First, an alcohol-based gel is spread over the area to be covered, the protective backing is removed from the film which is then also sprayed with the alcohol-based gel.
The film is carefully laid out and manoeuvred into position before more gel is sprayed over the top to act as a lubricant for the soft, pliable levelling tool used to smooth the film into place.
The film is compressed into concave regions and stretched over convex contours.
The edges of the film are wrapped around the lip of the panel to provide comprehensive protection and to hide the edges of the film.
Once installed, XPEL ULTIMATE Plus is allowed to rest, the gel completely evaporates, changing the colour of the film from lightly opaque to completely transparent. This part of the process takes around two days to complete during which time the film must be kept out of the elements.
Whilst the film was settling, the interior was vacuumed before the ivory leather interior was lightly cleaned using Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner. The leather was warmed using a heat gun to encourage the pores to open.
Then the upholstery was protected with Kamikaze Collection Musashi, providing an abrasion resistant, hydrophobic barrier that repels water and dust, helping to prevent dye transfer from dark suit or denim – a particular issue for light coloured leather.
The wheels were protected with Gtechniq C5 Alloy Wheel Armour to provide a hydrophobic, oleophobic barrier to help keep wheels cleaner for longer and to prevent contamination including brake dust from adhering to the surface.
Treated wheels are easier to maintain during the weekly wash and astringent wash chemicals are not required. The tyres were given a long-lasting, natural satin sheen with an application of Gtechniq T2 Tyre Dressing.
Once XPEL ULTIMATE Plus film had settled, the covered areas were protected with Kamikaze Collection Film Surface Coat. Designed specifically to protect vinyl wraps and PPF, Film Surface Coat actually helps repair minor defects in the surface of the film, further enhancing the self-healing properties already engineered into XPEL ULTIMATE Plus.
Many nano-sealants contain solvents which cause the adhesives bonding vinyl wraps to the panels to dissolve. Consequently, the film begins to peel. Film Surface Coat has been specifically formulated to avoid this issue and provides additional protection from the elements. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The rest of the bodywork was protected with Gtechniq Crystal Serum Ultra (CS Ultra), Gtechniq’s most innovative, durable, swirl-resistant coating. Essential to its performance is the environment in which it is applied: not only must water not be allowed to come into contact with the coating either during its application or during the first twelve hours of curing, humidity and ambient air temperature must be kept within strict parameters.
Surfaces must first be prepared with Panel Wipe to ensure they are completely free from any residues that may interfere with the formation of a high number of chemical bonds – the anchor that underpins the performance and protective qualities of the coating. Ensuring the preparation process has been completed and the ambient environmental conditions are controlled are principle reasons CS Ultra is available as a service only through Gtechniq-approved detailers. Once in place, the performance of the coating carries a manufacturer performance guarantee of ten years!
The shine and reflection delivered by CS Ultra is nothing short of show-stopping.
What a dazzling result for this stunning example of the ultimate in luxury motoring!