BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
On test: Range Rover Sport TDV8 review (2006-2010)
Image © Ford
Model: Range Rover Sport TDV8Bodystyle: 5dr 4x4Engine: 3.6 litre V8 TurbodieselTransmission: 6–speed automatic
What is it?
The Range Rover Sport was a surprise success for Land Rover. With the Freelander in its original form at the end of its life, the far more expensive Sport took over as the most popular model in the Land Rover Range. The cachet of the Range Rover badge certainly helps, so does pricing that’s more in line with the Discovery than the luxury model. The latter is down to the fact that the Sport is actually a re-bodied Disco and not a true Range Rover at all. The latest version gets an all-new 3.6 litre V8 twin turbo-charged diesel engine with the promise of performance to match this Range Rover’s pretensions.
Where does it fit?
The five-model Land Rover Range has great breadth and not a little overlap. The Sport starts in the low £30’s but many cars on the road are tricked-up with the full body kit and top line engines, which brings prices closer to £60k. The TDV8 will be available in several trim levels, but at launch only the HSE and HST are available, both well over £50,000. The target is clear. BMW’s X5 re-wrote the book on SUVs and many buyers now care primarily about sharp handling on the road, even if off-road ability has to take second place.
Is it for you?
It could well be, if you like the idea of not only driving a 4x4 but also, in a very obvious way, cocking a snoot to those who hate off-roaders. The Range Rover Sport is rather brutally aggressive, and seems to have hit the mark rather better than the radically-styled Discovery. This diesel V8 is the engine it’s been waiting for too. The V6 TD6 in the original Sport, though significantly better than the six cylinder in the Range Rover proper, still doesn’t have sufficient punch to power these heavy cars along in anything but a gentile manner.
What does it do well?
The TDV8 certainly transforms the diesel driving experience. With 272bhp there’s an extra 40% power and similar gains in torque. The result is a Range Rover Sport that accelerates to 60mph in 8.6 seconds, a massive improvement and only 0.4 seconds shy of the 4.4-litre V8 petrol powered Sport. The steering and handling are as good as ever, tauter than any other Land Rover and a genuine rival for the X5. Stick it into a corner at speed and there’s decent feel and accuracy to the steering and remarkably well-controlled body action. A tall, heavy 4x4 just shouldn’t handle this well.
What doesn't it do well?
There’s no denying that Land Rover has achieved its objectives with the Range Rover Sport extremely well. But there are compromises that trade off this on-road agility. It lacks the space and versatility of the cheaper Discovery and there is no seven-seat option as fitted to the Volvo XC90 and second generation BMW X5. But Land Rover is so experienced at building real off-roaders that the Range Rover Sport will still outperform these and other rivals when the going gets really extreme.
What's it like to live with?
With a Range Rover badge the Sport couldn’t be anything other than luxurious inside. Sure it’s not quite to the same standard as its up-market sibling, but there’s still a good degree of class and high levels of seat comfort that allow it to compare favourable with executive salons of a similar price. The high seating position gives the commanding view that SUV drivers love, but this height means getting an and out, or loading luggage, isn’t as easy as in a regular car.
How green is it?
A green 4x4? Even Lexus doesn’t really manage it with its hybrid RX400h, and diesel engine or not, neither does the TDV8 Range Rover Sport. The combined figure of 25.5 mpg compares favourably with the 28.3 for the 2.7 litre TD6 and is streets ahead of the 18.9 quoted for the 4.4 V8 petrol. CO2 figures are 294g/km, compared with 265g/km for the TD6 and a worrying 353g/km for the petrol V8. There seems little point in the non-supercharged petrol V8 any more and Land Rover will quietly drop it in 2007.
Would we buy it?
The Range Rover Sport is the Land Rover as a fashion statement. There’s nothing wrong that as long as you go in with your eyes open, and it certainly measures up well alongside the original BMW X5. The diesel V8 has the right credentials, and certainly has greater impact that the straight-six diesels offered in the X5, twin turbos or not. Step back, though, and even this version of the RR Sport doesn’t really feel truly “sporting” The exhaust has been tuned to give it a burble at lower road speeds but the sheer refinement of the engine isolates the driver from the sensation of speed. Still, if your pockets are deep enough you are unlikely to be disappointed.
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 23/05/13, Duration 4:17, Views 863