What is it?
The new 2016 Model Year Range Rover Sport may look just like the 2015-year version but this particular one is fitted with the new 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel engine, which is more than a little different. It has a bit more oomph courtesy of a power hike to 302bhp but, more usefully, some extra torque, taking the maximum output to 516lb ft – the same as a LaFerrari V12.
What’s it like?
You might think that with an extra 14bhp and 74lb ft of torque, the new model would feel noticeably quicker but the truth is, it doesn’t. In any case, the SDV6 has always felt pretty gutsy.
The dash from rest to 60mph still takes 6.8 seconds, but it’s the additional surge in the mid-range – from 2000-3000rpm – that makes this such an effective motor, even in a two-and-a-bit-ton car. Also, because the eight-speed automatic gearbox is determined to keep the engine in this rev-range, the minute you prod the throttle, it’s nearly always there, at your disposal, whether you’re in town or cruising on the motorway.
Two issues remain, however. Off boost, when you’re pulling out of side turnings, for example, it can take a while for the turbos to spool up and get going.
Also, if you’re pootling around town at, say, 25mph, and put your foot down, the Rangie suddenly becomes overly eager. It drops a gear, the two turbos spin up, and the abruptness and amount of torque catapult you unexpectedly.
There seems to be slightly more engine noise than before, in the form of a deep bassy thrum at about 2500rpm. However, it’s not unpleasant and adds to the general throatiness that’s always been a part of the JLR V6 diesel experience.
Lower CO2 emissions of 185g/km have dropped the SDV6 down two tax bands compared with the old model, while it’s almost 3mpg more economical on the combined cycle. It’s also now Euro 6 compliant.
Elsewhere, things are much the same as before. This Autobiography Dynamic version comes with handling gizmos such as Adaptive Dynamics, Torque Vectoring and Dynamic Response, which combine to make the Sport handle very well indeed.
The steering is sharp and direct, without being too aggressive on turn-in, and although there’s little real feedback, it weights up nicely as you add on more lock. It’s amazing how little body roll there is, considering the height of the vehicle and the weight the springs have to contend with. The Sport feels as agile as any SUV bar, perhaps, a Cayenne.
Refinement is excellent. Barely any vibration from the SDV6 engine breaches the cabin, which is also superbly isolated from high-speed wind and road roar.
In town, the ride on the 21in wheels is a bit lumpy. The car never crashes over bumps but does thud heavily on broken surfaces. You can almost feel the amount of unsprung mass that’s moving around beneath you. Also, for this tester, the brakes lack some bite at the top of their travel but work effectively beyond it.
Inside the Sport it’s the usual sumptuous Range Rover experience. On this model, that includes lashings of leather, turned aluminium trims on the dash and doors, and a luxury suede headlining.
The infotainment system, despite some upgrades for the 2016 model year that includes an app to remotely lock and unlock your car, still feels rather ponderous compared with the excellent iDrive system in a BMW X5. The 8.0in touchscreen is of a quite low definition by today’s standards, too, but does get sharper surround-view cameras, which are used to create the new bird’s eye parking feature.
Finally, if you’re constantly struggling to open a boot with your hands full of shopping, the Sport has the answer to your prayers. The new Gesture Tailgate feature means a quick waggle of your foot under the rear bumper is enough to pop the tailgate open.
Should I buy one?
We were always happy to recommend the old model and this new version remains every bit the great car that one was, with a few subtle tweaks.
There are cheaper luxury SUVs (this Autobiography Dynamic has shot up by £1600, and now costs £77,850 before options) and smoother riding ones, too. None, however, combine the luxury the Sport offers together with its handling poise, agility, off-road ability and, of course, its badge.
Range Rover Sport 3.0 SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £77,850; Engine 6 cyls, 2993cc, turbodiesel; Power 302bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 516lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2115kg; 0-60mph 6.8sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy 40.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 185g/km, 35%
What is it?