4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

THERE are no sur­prises that a Range Rover of some de­scrip­tion has made the Dirty Dozen list. The ques­tion is: which Range Rover? For our money it’s the Range Rover Sport SDV8, which is not only the pick of the vast Range Rover/ Range Rover Sport line-up, but it’s bet­ter than any 4x4 or SUV from Audi, Bent­ley, BMW, Mercedes-benz, Lexus or Porsche. The RRS SDV8 was our 4X4OTY two years back, so it joins the other 4X4OTY win­ners on this list.

For those who don’t know their Range Rovers, the SDV8 des­ig­na­tion means it has the 4.4-litre bi-turbo-diesel V8, one of a vast ar­ray of en­gines avail­able in the RRS or in­deed the RR it­self.

The dis­tinc­tion be­tween the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport is im­por­tant here, too. In ef­fect there’s lit­tle me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­ence be­tween the two as they share plat­forms and most of the mul­ti­ple pow­er­train op­tions. The key dif­fer­ence is in the body. The Range Rover’s is longer, taller and wider than the sleeker and, for most, more hand­some body of the Sport.

That this sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion RRS can claim to be a proper Range Rover sets it apart from the first-gen­er­a­tion Range Rover Sport, which was built on a Dis­cov­ery 3 plat­form.

Key to this gen­er­a­tion of RRS (and RR) is the all-alu­minium mono­coque con­struc­tion, which brings con­sid­er­able weight sav­ings over both the steel sep­a­rate chas­sis of the first-gen­er­a­tion RRS and the steel mono­coque of the pre­vi­ous-gen RR.

At 2400kg, the RRS Sport is still heavy but doesn’t feel it due to im­pec­ca­ble road man­ners and the ef­fort­less and am­ple power of the 250kw/740nm diesel V8.

The SDV8 is one of three diesels on of­fer, the other two be­ing 3.0-litre V6 diesels in dif­fer­ent states of tune. There’s also a diese­l­elec­tric hy­brid and four petrol en­gines, two su­per­charged V6s and two su­per­charged V8s, the most po­tent of which, the SRV, makes a mighty 405kw. That’s a truck­load of fun, but it’s an­other $75K over the SDV8 – and it’s thirsty.

The SDV8 is the com­plete pack­age. On-road it’s a lux­ury car with sports car per­for­mance and fru­gal econ­omy, yet of­froad it’s amaz­ingly ca­pa­ble and will scram­ble up a gnarly hill with the best of them. The wheel/tyre spec isn’t the most prac­ti­cal, but at least in this gen­er­a­tion of Range Rover and Range Rover Sport there’s been a move to­wards higher-pro­file tyres for any given wheel size, a wel­come move in terms of of­froad func­tion­al­ity.

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