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Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 HSE

Click to view picture gallery“Even being called the WAGs ‘fave
  wagon
hasnt harmed the Range
  Rover Sport
s reputation one jot —
  Land Rover’s most road-focussed
  vehicle is simply too good for name-
  calling to harm it
...”


THESE DAYS THE SPORT comes with a choice of two potent powerplants: for power-hungry sybarites there's the supremely powerful supercharged 503bhp 5.0-litre V8; for diesel aficionados there's a twin-turboed 3.0-litre V6 unit that pumps out 241bhp and 442lb ft of torque. For the record, this twin-turboed diesel engine is in good company it's shared not only with the latest Land Rover Discovery 4 but also Jaguar's XF and XJ models.

People buy into the Range Rover 'experience' for many and varied reasons but the TDV6 offers a less obvious one: economy. Officially, the 3.0 turbodiesel will do 25.2mpg in the urban and 30.7 in the combined cycle whereas the figures for the 5.0-litre petrol are 13 and 19mpg. A week's driving over a varied mix of roads and routes in our automatic TDV6 saw a real-world consumption of 28.4mpg. Not at all bad for a 2.6-tonne, all-wheel drive luxury SUV with all the bells and whistles.

“Climb aboard. Actually,
it
s not really a climb as
Range Rovers are
particularly easy to enter
and exit — the ‘climb

is only noticeable once
you
re seated
comfortably and can
enjoy the
eagles
view
...”
Clean-living drivers will be pleased to know that the TDV6 meets Euro 5 emissions, making it among the cleanest diesel engines on the market, and that a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is standard fitment as too is an advanced EGR system to reduce NOx. And, just to be on the safe side, a diesel misfuelling protection device is also standard.

Talking of bells and whistles, the 55K Sport HSE comes very well specified. Setting the scene externally is metallic paint and striking 20-inch alloy wheels. Bridging the outer and inner is keyless entry and start.

Once inside you'll find heated and cooled powered leather-upholstered front seats with electrically-adjustable seat bolsters and memory pack for the driver's seat, heated rear seats, automatic climate control, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, four one-shot open/close electric windows, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated and power operated powerfold (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving) door mirrors, drive-away auto locking, electronic parking brake, mood lighting, auto lights and wipers, acoustic windscreen and laminated front side windows, six airbags, etc.

Under the skin is a wealth of sophisticated multi-terrain gear that includes permanent four-wheel drive, four-corner air suspension, a low-ratio 'box, hill descent control and Terrain Response to manage and master, as its name implies, all kinds of terrains.

Climb aboard. Actually, it's not really a climb as Range Rovers are particularly easy to enter and exit the 'climb' is only noticeable once you're seated comfortably and can enjoy the 'eagle's view' that makes these luxury SUVs so reassuring to travel in.

At almost six feet tall, seven feet wide and over fifteen and a half feet long, it's larger than most cars. Yet from behind the wheel it just doesn't feel anywhere near that big deep windows in the glasshouse combined with upright flanks and visible corners make the Sport surprisingly easy to place with confidence.

“The functions of many
switches and buttons are
now controlled via
the touchscreen, which
also controls the
multimedia system, fast-
acting hard disk-driven
SatNav and acts
as an interface between
the driver and the
4x4 system
...”
The elevated cabin has space for five but four will be indulged in comfy perforated leather seats that offer both 3-stage heating (including the rear outer seats) and cooling (a 'must have' in the UK's increasingly muggy, 'global-warmed' summers); front seat occupants can get even more settled thanks to power-operated chairs with adjustable drop-down inner armrests.

But the driver does even better he or she gets electrically-adjustable backrest side bolsters and powered steering wheel adjustment. And the optional heated steering wheel rim is brilliant don't knock it until you've tried it!

Even the selector lever is a pleasure to use; formed in satin chrome and soft leather, it's positioned conveniently high on the centre console. Improving the superb driving position are crystal-clear dials with smart white-on-black graphics.

As you'd expect given its size and upright glasshouse, there's more than enough headroom and legroom for adults, even in the back. Behind them, with the seats in place, there's a massive 958 litres of boot space and up to 2,013 litres (with a perfectly flat loadbay floor) available in seconds anytime you have the need. The independently opening rear screen is perfect for express loading, particularly if you've had to park with your tail close to a wall or another vehicle.

Cabin-wise, there are ample storage bins including an insulated cooler box with a lift-out tray built into the central armrest (its lid can be flipped over 180 degrees to act as a tray for rear passengers), long and large door pockets and two gloveboxes, but it's the driver who benefits from another great feature minimised switchgear.

The functions of many switches and buttons are now controlled via the touchscreen, which also controls the multimedia system, fast-acting hard disk-driven SatNav and acts as an interface between the driver and the 4x4 system. The latest set-up provides all the information a driver needs and has the added advantage of being extremely intuitive.

What switchgear there is, mostly for the Terrain Response and the height-adjustable air suspension, is logically sited, self-explanatory and totally foolproof and all beautifully presented with fine chrome detailing. In fact, wherever you look in the Sport's cabin, perceived quality is first class. Naturally there's voice control and USB and iPod connectivity, all managed through the touchscreen.

“The V6s parallel
sequential turbocharging
endows the TDV6 with
best-in-class torque
(442lb ft) at low speeds
and gives it huge punch
at high speeds — for that
wonderful
wave of
torque
feeling usually
reserved for big
Bentleys
...”
Interestingly, while everyone who rode in the Sport was understandably impressed by the ride quality and the clarity of the harman/kardan surround sound system (480 watts of power and 13 individual speakers producing a dramatic 3D effect from a 12-channel digitally-controlled amplifier), it was the new surround camera system that hooked their interest.

Five strategically positioned digital cameras provide a 360-degree view around the Sport. And before you ask, Yes, it really does have a practical use not least of which is making it safer and easier to park.

Lifestyle drivers will find it handy when manoeuvring a trailer; more adventurous drivers will find it indispensable off-road where it can, literally, be lifesaving in close-quarter combat with nature's unforgiving obstacles. The cameras work at speeds of up to 11mph (in serious off-roading situations you won't be going half that fast!) and allow individual views to be cherry-picked and easily zoom-enlarged via the touchscreen.

Power delivery is more than sufficiently refined to be paired with the cabin's classy character. While the turboed diesel unit can't match the 5.0-litre's colossal 503bhp, its 241bhp is not to be sniffed at. But where it does come very close is in the torque department: the V6's parallel sequential turbocharging endows the TDV6 with best-in-class torque (442lb ft) at low speeds for that wonderful 'wave of torque' feeling usually reserved for big Bentleys and gives it huge punch at high speeds.

The hard-hitting 3.0-litre TDV6 can without doubt walk the walk and talk the torque and it does so with remarkable polish, delivering unruffled progress (0-62mph in 9.3 seconds) without unsettling the passengers and barely disturbing the hush of the cabin.

This is partly down to the gutsy power on tap across the rev range and party to the Sport's dynamic control systems that do a first rate job of keeping this six-foot tall behemoth 'trim' both on-road and off. In addition to five specific surface programmes (General, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud-Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl) the Terrain Response system also has a Dynamic programme; dial this up and on-road traction, handling, and driveability are instantly optimised for maximum feedback and responsiveness.

Press on in Dynamic mode and you'll be amazed by the Sport's impressive ride and handling, in particular the body control when driven briskly along twisting roads and its ability to spear through corners.

“Press on in Dynamic
mode and you
ll be
amazed by the Sport’s
impressive ride and
handling — in particular
the tidy body control
when driven briskly
along twisting roads and
its ability to spear
through corners
...”
Paddle-shifters also make it easy to zip up and down the slick six-speed ZF auto 'box particularly handy when you want to trigger a strong dose of engine braking. Not that the potent fade-free brakes need much help in the stopping department but strong engine braking when setting up for roundabouts and quick bends is usually preferable both dynamically and for maintaining passenger equilibrium.

Playing a key part in the Sport's sporty nature is the accuracy of the helm the variable ratio steering rack increases driver involvement by sending back sufficient information to make the Sport an easy vehicle to place accurately on the road at speed or, if you're travelling off-road, on backwoods tracks.

Status and distinctive styling aside, other core reasons people buy Range Rovers is their undisputed class-leading all-weather, all-terrain ability. 'Land Rover' was an inspired choice of name from the very beginning (in 1948) and epitomises exactly what every model in the company's line-up does so well they will all rove over every kind of land imaginable; from snow to sand, from nature's jungles to the urban man-made kind.

Ask it to climb impossible-looking gradients and treacherous tracks or wade fast-running rivers and the Sport will simply go right ahead and do it; to the same degree it offers a fluent car-like mastery of blacktop. And both off-road and on, it cossets and cocoons all aboard in genuine luxury. Forget the WAGs; the Range Rover Sport is The Player! MotorBar

Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 HSE | 55,185
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.3 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 28.4mpg
Power: 241bhp | Torque: 442lb ft | CO2 243g/km