A four-cylin­der en­gine in a Range Rover Sport just doesn’t sound right, but does it work?

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS FRASER STRONACH

FOR the first time ever, you can buy a Range Rover Sport with a four-cylin­der en­gine – a diesel in this case. Up un­til now, it’s been all V6 and V8 tur­bocharged diesels and su­per­charged petrol en­gines, but there has never been a four of any de­scrip­tion. The four-cylin­der diesel in ques­tion is an In­ge­nium, one of a new fam­ily of high-tech diesel and petrol en­gines de­vel­oped for Land Rover, Range Rover and Jaguar ve­hi­cles. This four-cylin­der diesel is just two litres in ca­pac­ity, but claims 177kw and 500Nm. Those num­bers bet­ter the 147kw/470nm of the 3.2-litre five­cylin­der diesel in the Ford Ranger – an en­gine that’s more than 50 per cent big­ger – and even the 151kw/430nm of the 4.5-litre V8 diesel used in Toy­ota’s 70 Se­ries – an en­gine that’s well over twice the ca­pac­ity. Part of its se­cret is the use of two se­quen­tially de­ployed tur­bocharg­ers; al­though, the VW Amarok also has a 2.0litre four with two tur­bos and it claims 132kw/420nm, still well short of the In­ge­nium.

What’s also sur­pris­ing is that this lit­tle four doesn’t need ex­treme en­gine speeds to make those strong num­bers, with its max­i­mum torque al­ready on tap by 1500rpm and peak power achieved by 4000rpm.

More per­ti­nent than the ques­tion of how suc­cess­ful it will be in the Range Rover Sport is its ef­fec­tive­ness or oth­er­wise in pow­er­ing the all-new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery. This 2.0-litre four will be the new Dis­cov­ery’s de­fault en­gine, at least if you want dual-range gear­ing, with the 3.0-litre V6 diesel being moved up to pre­mium du­ties.

So, the power and torque num­bers look great on paper, but how does it all stack up? Well, in a word, this en­gine’s a rip­per. Asked to give its best, it’s keen and en­er­getic and has a growl quite un­like a four, es­pe­cially at wider throt­tle open­ings. Un­less you were fore­warned, you wouldn’t know you were driv­ing a four on per­for­mance, feel or sound.

Aided by its eight-speed au­to­matic, it will pro­pel the 2115kg

RRS from a stand­still to 100km/h in just over eight sec­onds. That’s pretty brisk. More im­por­tantly, it pro­vides handy high­way over­tak­ing power, even if it doesn’t quite have the shove in the back of the 190kw/600nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel it re­places at the bot­tom end of the RRS range.

In general driv­ing, it’s ef­fort­less and quiet; al­though, it will pick up a lower gear un­der load a bit more read­ily than the V6, and it gen­er­ally likes to have more revs on board to do the same job. Thank­fully the eight-speed au­to­matic of­fers slick and quick changes and the en­gine re­mains smooth re­gard­less of RPM, one of the ben­e­fits of a small-ca­pac­ity four fit­ted with bal­ance shafts.

Of course, many peo­ple won’t like the idea of a smaller ca­pac­ity en­gine do­ing the job of a big­ger ca­pac­ity en­gine, but that’s the way of the fu­ture. Will longevity and re­li­a­bil­ity be com­pro­mised? Per­haps, but that will de­pend on how strongly these en­gines are built.

Four-cylin­der In­ge­nium boasts im­pres­sive per­for­mance fig­ures.

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