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Land Rover Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE road test report


Since its debut in 2005, Land Rover’s most performance-oriented vehicle yet – dubbed a ‘sports tourer’ by the company – had been in consistently high demand, at least until the global recession. With a new Range Rover Sport due in late ’09, we thought we’d try out the last of the original models.

Road Test Reports Says3 star rating
A front-facing image of the Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Image number 2 of the Land Rover Range Rover SportImage number 3 of the Land Rover Range Rover SportImage number 4 of the Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Performance Performance - 3 stars

If you need 140mph performance and can stomach sub 20mpg fuel consumption then you’ll want a beefy, supercharged, petrol V8 version. But if 130mph seems like enough, with 0-60mph in 8.6secs, then this 3.6-litre turbodiesel V8 should suffice. (There’s also a 2.7 V6 TDI for penny pinchers.) With 268bhp and 472lb/ft you might expect the diesel V8 to be a tad quicker than that, and on-the-road it does need a fair bit of right foot persuasion to get the most out of it, but weighing well over 2.5 tonnes, and with a substantial frontal area to push through the air, that’s not altogether surprising. Thankfully, it’s big Brembo brakes are well up to the task.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

Without wishing to state the obvious, this Sport is not a fully-fledged off-roader. Sure, with a sophisticated 4x4 drivetrain it can handle unpaved tracks, grassy fields and worse with aplomb, but it’s really not for venturing too far from tarmac. On road it’s very capable, and superior to the non-Sport Range Rov, but its weight (again) and relatively high centre of gravity mean that the Sport, despite its big alloys, wide tyres, double-wishbone air suspension, electronic anti-roll system and low-slung bodywork, is not the most agile or responsive of road cars. Fine for cruising about town or barrelling down a motorway, but hustle it along a twisting B-road and it’ll soon feel a bit cumbersome.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 2 stars

At almost £55k you’d expect a good dollop of leather, classy, brushed aluminium and a smattering of fine wood, and you get it. On second inspection everything still seems well finished and well put together, and on third inspection too. But even though I could find nothing wrong as such, I still had the impression that Range Rover construction is a little dated, perhaps even a tad agricultural in places. Some might see this as ‘traditionally rustic’ or ‘charmingly eccentric’, but with the Land Rover Brand being just below average in the ’08 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, Range Rover may need to raise its game a little.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 3 stars

Driver, passenger and front side airbags come as standard, as does central locking, an alarm and immobiliser. There’s a lane-change indicator and Dynamic Stability Control too, plus the option of a tyre pressure monitoring system, but that’s just the start of the electrickery. The patented Terrain Response system automatically adjusts everything from suspension ride height to axle articulation, and from gearchanging to traction-control. This helps optimise the vehicle’s behaviour to suit the prevailing ground. Terrain Response’s five settings cover ‘general driving’, ‘grass, gravel, snow’, ‘mud and ruts’, ‘sand’ and ‘rock crawl’ conditions. Range Rovers haven’t been subjected Euro NCAP crash testing, but suffice to say that I’d rather hit something in one than be hit by one…

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

First thing to note is that all Range Rovers, Sport included, are quite a bit bigger on the outside than they are on the inside. At its very core, the car hasn’t progressed significantly from when the Range Rover was first launched back in the early ‘70s. Which is to say that its design, or basic passenger compartment packaging, is way behind that of the latest MPVs or SUVs, so it’s all a bit cosy inside despite it’s sizeable outer dimensions. That said, the load area is a generous 958-litres, extending to a flat-floored 2,013-litres with the rear seats folded. The split, powered tailgate is handy too.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 3 stars

This HSE model costs £54,735. Standard equipment includes climate control aircon, an electric sunroof plus a decent CD/audio system and satnav, although you’ll have to dig deeper for a DVD player with rear screens, or for the new ‘hybrid’ TV which offers improved analogue reception and can also process digital signals. All things considered, 25.5mpg (combined) is pretty reasonable, although group 16 (1-20) insurance might well cost a little more than the £405 annual road tax, rising to £435 in 2010 (Band M). But putting the sordid matter of costs to one side, there’s no denying that the Range Rover Sport is both an impressive and a charming beast.

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