Still a car to go anywhere and arrive in style
THERE is no doubt that the Range Rover has repeatedly been refined and refreshed over its more than four decade lifespan to continually be at the cutting edge of 4x4 motoring.
I remember as a boy seeing my very first Range Rover driving across a field in 1970 and being blown away by what was a totally new kind of car.
I just had to have one and a decade or two later was the proud owner of a somewhat tired ‘M’ reg blue two door ‘Classic’ model. It was a load of trouble – the V8 engine absolutely drank petrol and tyres did not last all that long either, but I loved it and really felt I had ‘arrived’.
Fast forward to today and our test car this week - the 2016 model year Range Rover Sport, which shows those clever people at Land Rover are still keeping ahead of the (ever increasing) 4x4 pack.
It has been with us for a couple of years now and was a major leap forward from the previous Sport (which was a Discovery with a different bodyshell) mainly because of serious weight loss (down by 420kg to 2,115kg) thanks to an all-aluminum bodyshell.
That lightened shell, plus a superb new for 2016 V6 2993cc powerplant which kicks out over 300bhp, means the diesel Sport is a real flyer, hitting 60 in under seven seconds and going on to an electronically-limited top speed of 138.
And it also means fuel consumption I could only have dreamt of back in my 1970s petrol V8 Range Rover - which did about 18 mpg on a good day. The 2016 twin-turbo diesel V6 version can return over 40 overall and 44 on a run, with a shade below 36 around town. In a week of non-economical local and motorway driving I managed a respectable shade over 35.
And, of course, being a Land Rover the off-road performance is second to none. Although for serious stuff you would have to swap those stylish low profile tyres for all-terrain versions.
Now I know there will be some people who own Range Rovers from the last decade who will be howling about reliability issues. A good friend of mine has an ‘05’ V8 supercharged which usually has more lights lit up on the dash than a Christmas tree... and don’t get him started about the service at his local Land Rover dealer.
But all that is behind the latest models with great leaps forward in build quality and much improved reliability. The latest Range Rovers have world’s best all-terrain performance and are superbly crafted and luxurious.
Then there are the toys in our Autobiography Dynamic version… head up display, touch screen sat-nav and DAB radio (upgraded for 2016), voice control, adaptive cruise control,c multi-zone heated anda cooled electric memory seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof with power blind, k keyless entry and start, tyre pressure monitoring, a superb two tone blacka and-cream leather interior, a cooled centre console compartment and a suite of electronic on-road and off-road driving aids.
On the outside there are 21-inch ‘Diamond Turned Finish’ alloy wheels, big performance front brake discs, parking sensors and a rear camera.
But it was that legendary Land Rover toughness which came to my aid during the test week. I decided to pop over to Durham to see an old pal and in the early hours on my way back in a horrendous rainstorm those nice workmen on the A1M project decided to close the motorway.
With diversion signs blown over the only choice was to take the ‘top road’, the A66 through the remote hilly wilds of County Durham and Cumbria on a night when even the toughest of truckers had parked up and called it a day because of the high winds and ‘sideways’ rain.
There are few vehicles I would have attempted such a journey in but the rugged Rangie was more than up to the job and I enjoyed an adventure that in any ordinary car would have been a nightmare.
Across the Sport range there is a choice of three engines - a supercharged petrol 5.0-litre V8, a 4.4 V8 diesel and our entry-level 3.0 SDV6 plus a highefficiency diesel hybrid.
Prices start from the SDV6 HSE at £61,950 up to £84,350 for the 5.0 V8 S Autobiography Dynamic. Our 3.0SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic is £77,850 (but the extras on our test version took that up to £86,385).
A lot of cash but you do get a lot of car and driving pleasure… and compared to the V8, supercharged 5.0-litre, 550bhp Range Rover SVAutobiography which we had on test a few weeks ago at £148,900... it’s a bit of a bargain!