Rover Sport TDV8 HSE
big cats, Range Rovers are
all the same. If the original Range
Rover is the King of the Jungle,
the Range Rover Sport, with its
performance-tuned chassis, can
claim the cheetahs territory...
SPORTING OFF-ROADER. SOUNDS LIKE THE PERFECT OXYMORON. No, we're not
being offensive but as the dictionary defines it, an oxymoron is something
'pointedly foolish'. And surely 'sporting' and 'off-roading'
are, automotively speaking, about as far apart as the Poles. Well, thank
goodness that hasn't stopped the likes of BMW, Porsche and Land Rover
from building highly-covetable, hard-charging 4x4s in the respective shapes
of the X5, Cayenne and the vehicle tested here: the Range Rover Sport.
An undeniable part of the delight of driving these vehicles is the palpable
satisfaction that comes from sitting high off the road and at the same time
being able to charge as hard as if behind the wheel of a bona fide sports car.
Add in a generous dose of luxury and you have an intoxicatingly tasty recipe
for driver satisfaction.
The Range Rover Sport is more than merely a Range Rover that's been tweaked
to handle with the agility of a sports car. See them side by side and you appreciate
that the distinctive, rakish-looking Sport is physically a different model.
For a start it's lower and shorter (by 184mm/7.25 inches) than its 'big brother'.
And, even standing still on its 20-inch alloys (wearing meaty 275/40 Pirelli
Scorpion Zero rubber), it looks purposeful and quick. And it is.
Of course, the big difference between the Sport from Solihull and the Teutonic
competition is that the Range Rover has the all-terrain, adventure-soaked pedigree.
Should you need to go off the radar as in climb mountains, wade rivers
and cross deserts then the Range Rover Sport would be your first choice
by a mile.
However and rather unfortunately, given all of the amazing high-tech
wizardry hidden beneath the Sport's smart body panels most Range Rover
Sports will be spending their entire life on smooth tarmac. Not that most owners
will be aware of what they're missing because on-road is where the Sport has
been designed to deliver a genuinely satisfying driving experience and you'll
find it's just as confidently at home here, too.
Externally, the Sport may be lower that the Range Rover proper; but inside you
still sit commandingly high. Shapely leather-upholstered sculpted seats with
effective but non-intrusive bolstering hold you reassuringly; and a luxurious
ambience underscored by extensive leather, wood and metallic finishes is immediately
noticeable; as is the broad transmission tunnel that hints at the powerful drivetrain
beneath. There's a lot of room but sitting up front it all feels, in the nicest
possible way, pleasantly cosy.
Adjustable fold-down inner armrests complemented by outer armrests on the doors
are positioned just right to provide further comfort and add to the 'snugness'.
The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach electrically, and there's a
handy three-setting memory recall for the driver's seat. For hot days, the 'mini-fridge'
built into the centre front armrest is brilliant. For cold days and nights there
are heated front and rear seats, a heated windscreen and heated washer jets.
Accommodation in the rear is good, with adequate headroom and legroom and a
large centre armrest. The rear seats split and fold (60:40), while the boot
is generous for four or five adults' luggage but fold them down and load
space more than doubles to 2,013 litres. The one-piece lift-up tailgate makes
for easy loading and incorporates a separately-opening rear window for access
in confined spaces.
As you would expect, for £55,000 the Sport TDV8 comes very well fitted out as
standard and includes everything most owners will ever want: including permanent
four-wheel drive, 20-inch alloy wheels, six-speed adaptive automatic transmission
with CommandShift and high/low range, electronically-controlled air-suspension
with Terrain Response, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with
forward alert, harman/kardon hi-fi with in-dash 6-disc CD player, automatic
headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, 8-way power front seats with powered lumbar
support, leather upholstery and front and rear parking sensors.
You also get SatNav, electrochromatic rear-view mirror, power windows with one-touch
driver's and passenger's opening, heated and electrically-adjustable powerfold
door mirrors, electric parking brake, power tailgate latching, personal telephone
integration system, centre console cooler box, adaptive front lighting and metallic
In addition there are front and rear split differentials, a lockable electronic
centre diff, Hill Descent Control, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC monitors wheel
speed and steering angle to make cornering safer and more stable), Active Roll
Mitigation (ARM monitors vehicle stability), Dynamic Response (optimises body
control on-road/maximises wheel travel off-road) and eight airbags, including
side curtains plus ABS with powerful Brembo front brakes.
The Range Rover Sport can come with any one of three engines. Choices are a
supercharged 385bhp 4.2-litre V8 petrol and two diesels: an 188bhp 2.7 V6 and
a 268bhp 3.6 V8. Petrol fans tempted by the performance of the 4.2-litre powerplant
will have to live with an urban fuel consumption of 12.4mpg. Those who resent
the cost of filling the 84-litre (18.5 gallons) tank as frequently as that demands
will be tempted by the 21.6mpg urban consumption and 34.4mpg extra-urban figures
of the 2.7 TDV6. For the record, the TDV6 runs to 120mph and the V8 Supercharged
to 140mph with 0-62mph taking, respectively, 12.7 and 7.6 seconds.
Fortuitously there is a peach of a compromise the 3.6-litre V8 diesel,
reviewed here. The best all-round engine choice, it features twin variable nozzle
turbochargers and serves up 268bhp along with an enormous 472lb ft of torque
at 2,000rpm of which over 295lb ft is available from just 1,250rpm.
With more than its fair share of 'grunt', the driving characteristics are decidedly
un-diesel: it sounds purposeful (a sports tuned exhaust is standard on the TDV8),
revs freely and, thanks to the impressive torque, feels as eager on the road
as the faster supercharged 4.2 V8 petrol. At any time, a sharp dab on the throttle
pedal is all it takes to call up a smooth sustained surge of acceleration from
the TDV8. For the record, several passengers insisted on checking beneath the
clamshell bonnet before they were convinced it wasn't a petrol engine under
The V8 diesel runs to 130mph and takes 9.2 seconds to hit 62mph from standstill.
Urban consumption is a liveable 19.3mpg; Effortless motorway cruising should
see as much as 31.4mpg. The combined figure is officially 25.5mpg during
a week's driving over a variety of roads including quite a bit of town driving,
our TDV8 recorded a combined figure of 23.7mpg. Even at the real-life average
figure, that means a usable range of well over 400 miles between forecourt fill-ups.
Land Rover refers to the Sport as a 'sports tourer'. It's a truthful description
the Sport definitely gets the adrenaline flowing. Especially if you snick
the selector lever from D to the left to select Sport mode. This keeps the V8
on the boil and the transmission in the most appropriate gear to optimise performance
by keeping in lower gears for longer with downshifts taking place more readily.
A manual mode is also available: from Sport mode, simply tap the selector forwards
or backwards to select a higher or lower gear.
Pressing on along a demanding and sparsely traffic-ed ribbon of road spiced
with some tricky zigzags that might give even a biker some cause for second
thoughts, the TDV8 feels amazingly fluent and stable; traction and grip are
more than reassuring, the steering provides good (particularly for a weighty
4x4) feedback with tidy responses and, courtesy of the Dynamic Response anti-roll
system, body roll is impressively reined-in. From inside the cabin, all your
instincts keep telling you that no car this tall and with this much mass can
be flung around so predictably and safely. But oh, yes it can…
With 4-piston Brembo front brakes and ventilated discs front and rear, the Sport
possesses strong, no-fuss stopping power. Naturally they are backed-up by anti-lock
braking with Emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.
Talking of brakes, the conveniently-to-hand electronic parking brake automatically
deactivates when moving off. And talking of parking, the Sport's 3.1 turns lock-to-lock
steering and 11.6m turning circle make manoeuvring in tight spots easy work.
Helped by its electronically-controlled air springs, the Range Rover Sport delivers
the goods both on tarmac and off. These springs firm up at high speed and during
cornering but automatically become more compliant at lower speeds or on poor
roads and maintain a well-judged balance between comfort and responsive handling.
And off-road they provide far more flexibility and height adjustment than regular
Off-road the Sport is eye-openingly awesome: it wades 700mm (picture water over
the tops of the tyres that's scary deep when the water's lapping halfway
up the side of your door), has 227mm of off-road ground clearance and axle articulation
that allows good approach, ramp (break-over) and departure angles. At the heart
of its almost nonchalant ability to cope with just about any terrain is Land
Rover's intelligent Terrain Response system.
The rotary control for the Terrain Response system is sited on the centre console
behind the selector lever, along with switches for the Hill Descent Control,
High/Low transfer 'box and the four-mode ride height air suspension. While it's
worth familiarising yourself with all of these functions, all you really have
to do is to let the Terrain Response system oversee it all for you.
To do this, press the centre of the rotary knob and it automatically rises up
an inch ready to set 'n' forget. Twist the knob to select one of the five terrain
programs (general; grass-gravel-snow; mud-ruts; sand; rock crawl) appropriate
for the conditions. Push the control back down out of the way and that's it.
It then automatically selects the most appropriate settings for the Range Rover
Sport's battery of advanced electronic controls and traction aids. And leaves
you free to enjoy the drive!
Another clever resource, and one that contributes to the Range Rover Sport's
high-degree of dual-terrain sure-footedness, is Dynamic Response. On-road it
optimises body control by stiffening the anti-roll bars at the onset of roll
to ensure flat cornering and a decent degree of driver feedback while maintaining
suppleness and ride comfort; off-road it maximises wheel travel by automatically
'decoupling' the anti-roll bars.
Back on ordinary roads, long journeys are a pleasure. The cabin is refined with
mechanical and road noise well suppressed the only sounds you do hear
are the right 'sporty' sounds from the 3.6 V8. Or the quality music coming from
that harman/kardon audio system. Adding an additional layer of reassurance is
the Adaptive Cruise Control. Forward-looking radar scans the road ahead ten
times a second, ensuring that the Sport maintains a set speed and distance from
the vehicle in front. An audio and visual alarm alerts you when you are closing
in on a vehicle ahead. At night, adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights change beam direction
to follow the curve of the road as the vehicle turns.
Some people might see the Sport as a 'cut-price' Range Rover. A mistake. With
prices ranging from £38,495 to £63,895, the term 'cut price' doesn't cut it.
And it's not a lesser Range Rover. It's a different Range Rover, one
with a unique self-defining purpose. It's practical and luxurious and its on-road
performance matches most other high-end SUVs. But it goes one better than most
by having a highly-accomplished all-terrain alter-ego. An excellent all-round
package then and one that, in TDV8 guise, provides the kind of driver satisfaction
that only a big 4x4 powered by a potent and punchy V8 diesel can. Wherever you
are in one of these, in the buzz of the city or far from civilisation, the Sport
makes that landscape its own. MotorBar
Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE | £55,095
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 23.7mpg
Power: 268bhp | Torque: 472lb ft | CO2 294g/km
| Insurance group 16