BOTB

BOTB Road Test: Range Rover Sport SDV6 {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

5 Apr 2014

It would surprise a lot of BOTB fans that the most popular car, month on month in our competitions isn’t an Aston Martin, a Porsche or a Bentley, but a Range Rover Sport. And a diesel one at that.

But step back and think about it for a while and you can see why. Obviously people are drawn to the idea of having an Aston Martin outside their house, but most people have families and busy lives so they want to win a car that they can use every day and still feel special in. So here at BOTB News we thought our readers and competition players would like to hear more about their favourite cars, starting with the Range Rover Sport.

After an amazingly simple phone conversation, the Sport was arranged to be dropped off when it was free in a couple of months. Time passed and then all of a sudden a reminder pops up that a rather nice £76,000 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic was about to arrive outside, turning an ordinary Monday morning into a very special one.

Even without the stunning Firenze Red paint job of ‘our’ RR Sport it’s an imposing vehicle – tall, wide and very long. But then it has the option for 7 seats, so that extra length is required. Along with the fancy paintwork this press car came on a set of 21” alloy wheels and in all honesty looked like a £100,000 car, if not more. From the outside it looks absolutely fantastic. Compared to the old RR Sport the new model is in a whole different league, with a sleek nose topped by the clamshell bonnet, deeply sculpted sides and a waistline and rear that taped upwards to give the impression that it’s going really fast even what stopped.

And if the outside is nice, wait until you slip inside. We’re already overdoing the hyperbole, but the interior is a masterpiece in clean, understated design even with the foot-wide centre console dominating the view. What this Sport has in abundance is toys. Man toys. The kind of toys that make you sit in the car for half an hour before you even set off. Let’s go through the big ones as you see them – climb aboard (and even at 6ft 3 it’s still a ‘climb’) and settle into the plush seats. Rest your head back and ohhhhh it’s like a leather cushion! Nice.

Straight ahead you have the TFT instrument panel, with a simple Land Rover badge on startup, followed by a set of perfectly clear and impressive looking dials that you’d struggle to believe weren’t real. Of course being a screen, everything is configurable from the colours to the info you get in the middle. But that screen is nothing compared to the centre console dual view screen. If you took someone from 1995 and put them in this car their head would explode. The driver sits there looking at the 7-inch screen showing the satnav map, infotainment menu, whatever he chooses, while the passenger happily watches digital TV with the sound going to a pair of wireless headphones. In the back, the kids watch a Disney film on the headrest screens with their own wireless headphones. Incredible technology and we defy anyone to get in and not move their head from side to side watching the screen change. The rest of the tech is just as impressive, with surround view cameras all over the car and a glorious panoramic sunroof stretching right to the back of the car.

So once you’ve played with all the tech and admired all the details what is there left to be done? Ah yes, drive. Hit the starter button and the 3.0 litre V6 diesel awakens with barely a whisper. Nudge the lever back and away you go. Hmmm. Instantly you’re aware of the sheer size and weight of the Sport – it may be 350 kg lighter than the model it replaces but piloting a 2.1 tonne, 2.2 metre wide car around a town centre can be a challenge. Luckily the nose and corners are very easily placed, so it just takes a short while before you become accustomed to the width. The weight on the other hand never fails to make itself felt around town. Pulling away from junctions, nipping for a gap or overtaking a cyclist are all met with a noticeable delay in throttle input as the engine winds up the 287 bhp to get moving that mass. Maybe the 4.4 TDV8 would deal with it better, certainly the 5.0 litre supercharged V8 would, hopefully we’ll get the chance to find out.

But get out of town and the RR Sport really begins to shine, at normal speeds it defies the size and weight completely with responsive steering and dynamic direction changes. Sure you know you’re still in a big car, but the Sport feels more like a high-up BMW 5-Series in the way it attacks a bend. This is a true testament to the engineering talents of Land Rover’s engineers – to be able to make a car of this size virtually shrink around you and give you the confidence to tackle your favourite roads is a real achievement.

On the motorway the Sport is the consummate cruiser too, supple suspension soaking up all the bumps along with the extremely comfy seats, while the adaptive cruise control lets you set your desired speed and relax, taking care of the important jobs like steering and listening to the exceptionally clear (£5000 option!) 1700W, 23-speaker Meridian stereo.

So what to make of the Range Rover Sport? Certainly it’s an incredibly luxurious, refined and technologically advanced vehicle, with admirable improvements in weight and economy over the previous model. But we’d say if you spend most of your time driving around a busy town or city – take an extended test drive and assess whether you need the extra space, as an Evoque might be a better bet.

Thanks to Land Rover for the press car, fantastic images by Steve Hall Photography

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