There aren't many cars out there that are good for you, but any model that ensures you're relaxed behind the wheel has to be a positive thing. It's a feeling I've always experienced while driving Range Rovers; they've got something about them, something that, no matter the presented situation, makes for a calming experience.
Get behind the wheel of one and I challenge you not to sit back, take in all that's around you and breathe a sigh of relief. Even the worst a journey can throw at you can't detract from the experience, elbows pressing gently on the armrests and fingertips lightly caressing the wheel. For me, it only takes minutes to feel calm and chipper - an automotive Prozac if you will.
It's a state of mind that I've yet to duplicate in any other car, and it's not just a phenomenon curious to the full-fat Range Rover, but the Sport (and to a lesser extent the new Evoque), too. So the prospect of spending a week in a newly revised Range Rover Sport Autobiography is definitely one of the better ones.
There have been all sorts of changes to the latest 2012 model, including a one-piece powered aluminium boot, Dual View touch-screen, a premium Harmon Kardon hi-fi, interior design revisions and more trim choices for Autobiography models.
But it's the supercharged 5.0L V8 petrol engine that continues to stand out, making this British giant one of the fastest 4x4s by far. Bonnet rising like a speedboat on a bow wave, it completes the 0 to 100kph sprint in only 6.2 seconds. But even at full tilt the smooth delivery of power, only interrupted briefly by the swift swapping of ratios, feels completely effortless. The sheer incredulity of what this vehicle can do never fails to put a smile on your face. Admittedly, with 510hp and 625Nm (the latter on tap from only 2,500rpm), it's not really a surprise that this behemoth can perform such trickery.
But for all its performance, lazily delivered or not, this really is one Range Rover that can turn its hand to anything asked of it. As expected, the Sport is particularly capable off-road, benefiting from the firm's air suspension and terrain response system. Four distinct off-road modes are offered, each optimised for gravel, grass, snow or rocks, and you can alter the car's ride height at a touch of a button. There's no traditional transfer case here, but a low-range setting on the six-speed automatic gearbox and the company's hill descent control to help smooth things out.
Faced with obstacles that will have you thinking twice, the series of on-board cameras allows you to check for any forthcoming bodywork damage, while the 4X4i information screen keeps you abreast of the locking differentials and even which way the wheels are pointing. And like the most technically advanced supercars, the Range Rover even comes with launch control - though this system is there to deal with sand rather than minimise drag strip times. It's this host of technology that means the Sport flatters even the most clumsy of off-road drivers.