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Range Rover Sport TDV6 HSE (2010) Review & Road Test part 3

Sun, 25 Apr 2010

The final part of our road test / review of the 2010 Range Rover Sport


It’s only been very recently that I’ve accepted that a diesel engine belongs in anything other than an HGV or a taxi. I’ve had to concede that maybe it’s not entirely realistic to want a petrol V8 in every car I drive, and there are now some very convincing diesel lumps around. They don’t sing like a good petrol lump, but the big wodge of torque most have really does go a very long way to compensate.

But despite my recent conversion to at least being able to see the sense in a diesel I can’t say I’d ever consider a diesel Range Rover Sport. And if I did it would be the V8, not the puny V6. But – not for the first time – I’m completely wrong. This new V6 has almost as much torque as the 5.0 litre S/C lump. It jumps away with a prod of the right foot in a way it has no right to. It’s got to be black magic trickery.

For almost every reason you could think of this 3.0 litre diesel suits the RRS. It will cruise all day at 85mph in peace and comfort; it jumps around like a scalded cat in town (well, more like a slightly singed cat to be fair – but it’s impressive) and it can hustle round the back roads in a way it has no right to. It’s not perfect, but it’s an awful lot closer to perfect than I’d ever have believed possible.

So it’s a great deal better looking outside, especially in a colour like Nara Bronze. The interior is now what it always should have been – a quality but sporty take on the full size Range Rover – and the engine I’d never have considered in a month of Sundays is a gem. But there are still problems.

Land Rover engineers have managed the same sort of feats with the RRS as Porsche’s have with the 911 – they’ve managed to engineer their way round the laws of physics. The gadgets and gizmos that underpin the RRS make it handle in a way that shouldn’t be possible from a 2.5 tonne, top-heavy car. But however good they’ve got they still can’t cope if you’re too enthusiastic.

I managed to get this RRS’s knickers in a twist a couple of times when hustling round back roads – admittedly at speeds a well-sorted saloon car would struggle to cope with – but at speeds the Cayenne could handle. Still, most owners wouldn’t hustle it like I did.

The big wodge of torque the 3.0 litre diesel delivers flatters to deceive. I came unstuck on a couple of overtakes where the RRS ran out of steam. Not completely, but enough for a moment of uncertainty.

The back seats still don’t offer the most commodious accommodation and the throttle response can be dodgy under some circumstances. But that’s it.

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And I really do mean that’s it. Apart from those minor gripes the 2010 Range Rover Sport is a very good car. It does most things incredibly well and makes a pretty good fist of doing the rest at least competently. It’s finally stylish and luxurious and offers a completely viable alternative to the Cayenne and X5. It wipes the floor with both off-road (we did mud ruts and tracks and fields and rocky stuff – a doddle) and is as much fun – with the caveats above – as the Germans are on-road.

But most of all it finally has that Range Rover magic on offer. That intangible something that makes you feel you’re in a great car. It didn’t have it before. It was a bit of an anti-climax compared to its big brother. Yes, the Range Rover is the daddy if you want the ultimate luxury SUV. But the Range Rover Sport is now the best buy for a luxury, sporty ‘I want just one car but it has to be good at everything’ scenario.

Yes, it’s still a compromise car; a marketing product; a cashing-in. But then so too are all the other Sporty SUVs. Could I live with the 3.0 litre diesel RRS as my daily drive? You know, I really think I could. I think the minor irritations would settle in to being foibles and its strengths are now so much greater than its weaknesses that my head is telling me that the 3.0 TDV6 RRS is all the car you could need. Even if my heart tells me I’d probably end up with the Supercharged version.

But then I’m a dinosaur. And the Range Rover Sport really isn’t. Especially with the 3.0 litre diesel lump.

Full Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 HSE specification, data and price

(33 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

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By Cars UK