Still a car to go any­where and ar­rive in style

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

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!

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