By Samuel Ee
The Range Rover Sport SDV6 is cleaner for 2012, and the diesel-engined luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) now gets more power even as it consumes (slightly) less fuel. There are actually two versions of this big, handsome SUV here - with a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine or a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. While the supercharged V8 has twice the horsepower of the V6, both engines have comparable torque, which demonstrates how efficient the smaller diesel unit is.
As part of its upgrade, the SDV6 now churns out an extra 10bhp for 255bhp even as fuel economy slips from 9.2l/100 km to 8.8 litres per 100km under the combined cycle. At the same time, carbon dioxide emissions from this Euro V turbodiesel with a diesel particulate filter fall from 243 g/km to 230g/km.
Helping to achieve the improvement is the new eight-speed auto transmission, which replaces the old six-speeder.
The torque of 600 Newton-metres remains unchanged and is hefty enough to make itself felt, despite the luxury SUV's 2,535kg kerb weight. The zero to 100kmh sprint of 8.9 seconds is not as impressive on paper as the 6.2 seconds of the V8 Supercharged variant, but once it's on the move, the Range Rover Sport feels unstoppable - the big SUV has the ferocity of a charging rhinoceros.
Despite piezo fuel injectors, the Range Rover Sport still emits an audible diesel clatter. But from behind the wheel, sitting high above the rest of the traffic with the windows up, the Range Rover Sport provides an extremely civilised environment.
There is excellent all-round visibility, with the SUV's squarish form making it easy to place and park. Regarding the latter, the Range Rover Sport's height of 1.8 metres guarantees entry to virtually all carparks here.
It has an Access Height feature to further lower it by 40mm which can be locked so as to stay lowered instead of rising automatically above 10kmh.
Also on the lower centre console, the Terrain Response rotary knob has been replaced with the new Terrain Response Optimisation Switch with Dynamic and General Driving on-road settings, as well as the four off-road modes. Selecting one of the six will modify the Adaptive Chassis' air suspension settings. In Dynamic, it also modifies the DSC Dynamic Stability Control for a sportier response.
In Dynamic mode, the Range Rover Sport's suspension stiffens and there are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts for a more involving drive. But otherwise, its handling cannot be described as sporty by the usual German SUV standards.
|Range Rover Sport SDV6
|Price: $407,000 (with COE)
Engine: 2,993cc V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic transmission
Max Power: 255bhp @ 4,000rpm
Max Torque: 600Nm @ 2,000rpm
0-100kmh: 8.9 secs
Top speed: 200kmh
CO2 emissions: 230g/km
Distributor: Wearnes Automotive
Tel: 6378 2623
The steering is somewhat vague although it is perfect for tooling around town and up and down tight multi-storey carparks. In fact, the power assistance helps to "shrink" the Range Rover Sport's bulk and enhance its manoeuvrability.
But unlike the German SUVs, the gentrified Range Rover is a true off-roader with its classiness concealing the ruggedness. It offers an exemplary onboard experience - the airy cabin is comfortable and stylish with all the requisite high-end finishes and equipment (a new item is the power tailgate). It really is the elegant alternative.
This article was first published in The Business Times.