FRASER STRONACH

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

DIESEL cars, not long ago seen as the saviour of the planet thanks to pro­duc­ing less green­house gas than equiv­a­lent petrol en­gines, now seem doomed. Even re­cent diesel-emis­sion tech­nol­ogy such as par­tic­u­late fil­ters (to re­duce soot) and Se­lec­tive Cat­alytic Re­duc­tion (or Ad­blue as it’s com­monly called, to re­duce NOX) doesn’t seem suf­fi­cient to save them.

Many car­mak­ers are al­ready say­ing the next round of diesel emis­sion reg­u­la­tions are “too tough”, while var­i­ous Euro­pean gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies that date back to the 1990s and kicked off the diesel tech­nol­ogy rev­o­lu­tion we en­joy to­day also look like be­ing with­drawn. Diesel bans are also be­ing called for in po­lit­i­cal ma­noeu­vring by var­i­ous lo­cal and na­tional govern­ments, es­pe­cially in Eu­rope, the ‘home’ of the pas­sen­ger-car diesel.

If you’re a fan of the per­for­mance, re­fine­ment and fuel ef­fi­ciency of modern diesel en­gines and all this sounds grim, there is some good news. And that good news comes in the form of rel­a­tively small ca­pac­ity tur­bocharged petrol en­gines that of­fer near diesel-like torque, flex­i­bil­ity and fuel ef­fi­ciency, all com­bined with typ­i­cal petrol-like top-end zip.

Iron­i­cally, given a his­tory of its best en­gines be­ing bor­rowed from oth­ers, one of the car­mak­ers at the fore­front of this new petrol-en­gine tech­nol­ogy is Land Rover. And, for this, Land Rover can only thank its In­dian owner Tata and Tata’s heavy in­vest­ment in Land Rover re­search, de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

This new tech comes in the form of the so-called In­ge­nium petrol en­gines that fol­low on from the In­ge­nium diesel en­gines as seen in the cur­rent Dis­cov­ery that ar­rived late 2017. The In­ge­nium diesels in­clude a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der that pro­duces a mighty 177kw and 500Nm and pow­ered the new Dis­cov­ery to vic­tory in our re­cent 4x4 Of The Year.

Now the first of Land Rover’s In­ge­nium petrol en­gines have just ar­rived in Aus­tralia in the 2018 Dis­cov­ery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. The more pow­er­ful of the two claims a V8-like 213kw and is backed up with 400Nm that’s on tap by just 1500rpm, also from just two litres and four cylin­ders.

On the road this en­gine in the Disco Sport does it all and of­fers an im­pres­sive mix of flex­i­bil­ity, per­for­mance and re­fine­ment. Es­pe­cially en­dear­ing is its low-rpm diesel-like grunt that al­lows it to eas­ily carry the ex­tra tall gear­ing af­forded by the nine-speed au­to­matic, which has the en­gine spin­ning at just 1500rpm at ex­press­way speeds in top gear. At the same time the en­gine has plenty of topend zing, as you’d ex­pect of 213kw in an SUV the size of the Dis­cov­ery Sport. In fact, it’s a bit of a rocket…

This In­ge­nium petrol en­gine is also thrifty on fuel in the Disco Sport, with an av­er­age of 9.0L/100km in con­di­tions where an In­ge­nium-diesel pow­ered Disco Sport would re­turn around 7.5L/100km.

The so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy in the In­ge­nium petrol en­gine in­cludes di­rect fuel in­jec­tion, vari­able valve tim­ing on both cams, vari­able valve lift on the in­let cam and a low in­er­tia twin-scroll turbo.

As with the In­ge­nium diesel en­gines, the In­ge­nium petrol en­gines are mod­u­lar, so adding two more cylin­ders to a 2.0-litre four will pro­duce a 3.0-litre straight six, as Land Rover plans to do. Sim­ple maths could see the 213kw and 400Nm from this petrol four then be­come 319kw and 600Nm in a 3.0-litre petrol six, if Land Rover so wishes. Now doesn’t that sound good in a Dis­cov­ery?

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