The sensible extravagance
Welcome to this week’s contradiction on wheels: the decidedly extravagant Range Rover powered by a sensible turbo-diesel engine. Half the appeal of a flashy R-R Sport was always its thundering beast of an engine so does this mean the Sport badge should be ripped off its backside?
My initial answer was yes, absolutely. I don’t care about variable-vane turbo’s and two thousand Newton meter, a Diesel cannot and will never be sporty. The minute you can get a TD engine to rev from idle to 6,500rpm in a heartbeat, I’ll reconsider my verdict.
For the time being though, I didn’t want to be too hard on Land-Rover’s sporty and more affordable luxury liner. The Sport has always appealed to me because it’s not as expensive, complicated and cumbersome as a big Range Rover, but still possesses reasonable off-road capabilities.
All models in the Arr-Arr Sport range feature permanent four-wheel-drive and Land-Rover’s six stage Terrain Response system. You turn a knob to whatever most resembles the surface you wish to conquer and the car does the rest for you. Just point it somewhere and go.
The Range Rover Sport (hereafter referred to as “RRS”) does have an Achilles heel in the shape of its predominantly on-road tyres, expensive wheels, paint and body work. Nonetheless, the car can call upon three ride height settings, low range or differential lock when the going gets tougher.
This gives the RRS something admirable: ability. Chances are you’ll never rough it on a mountain pass, but you could if you wanted to. One early Thursday evening I cruised into Constantia for dinner with friends and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. There were dozens of these cars surrounding me.
What also struck me was that nobody noticed that I was driving the newest, cheapest and least powerful version of the favourite son. Propelling this vehicle is Jaguar / Land-Rover’s 3-litre twin-turbo turbo-Diesel V6 with 180kW (245hp) and a monumental 600Nm of torque.
The EU5 compliant motor churns out 243g CO2/km and requires an average of 9.2L/100km. Our consumption hovered around 11L/100km, which is phenomenal for an RRS. Three return trips to Cape Town still left us with half a tank – double of what a petrol-powered Sport would leave you with.
Performance figures are a bit of a snag with a 0-100km/h time of 9.1 seconds (our best was 8.5) and an alleged top speed of 200km/h. It’s still impressive for a beast of 2,535kg, but falls short of the speedy heritage that “Sport” badge promises.
I guess you could see this in a positive light – the frightening consumption and speed of the petrol V8’s has been swapped for impressive frugality and smooth masses of torque. Driven through a six-speed adaptive automatic gearbox, the lazy grunt will find favour with everyone but hard-core speed freaks.
However; in daily traffic the RRS HSE Luxury TDV6 offers sufficient power and even makes a half-decent V6 noise. Its cabin is a masterpiece of luxury and technology, the commanding driving position is impressive and the air suspension coupled to body roll control and that substantial weight makes for a solid, solid ride.
A few days down the line I changed my tune. The impressive HSE spec offers you auto everything, lots of driver aids and a few extra toys like adaptive cruise control, touch-screen hard-drive navigation, Bluetooth, 6-DVD changer and mp3 capability, rear entertainment, integrated cooler box, trailer assist, sunroof, keyless entry and ignition.
There are dozens more, trust me, and the cheapest RRS doesn’t look inexpensive from the outside. It still has that imposing stance and sloping window line, huge 19-inch wheels, adaptive Xenon lights, Christmas tree LED’s and lots of other sparkly bits.
So now you’re left with a flashy beast that still offers you lots of kit but won’t make you cry at the pumps. You’ll save quite a few bob and nobody except Land-Rover sales people will notice. Especially if you do high mileage and long distances, this is probably the right RRS for you.
A RRS HSE TDV6 will set you back N$869,995, this “Luxury” model N$930,995, and the bonkers 380kW RRS Supercharged N$1,004,995. You may also choose from various colours, wheels, interiors and option packs. Included in these prices is a five-year 100,000km warranty and maintenance plan.
0-100m: 6.3s / 83.8km/h
0-200m: 9.9s / 106.1km/h
0-300m: 13.0s / 120.9km/h
0-400m: 15.8s / 132.5km/h
1/4mile: 15.9s @ 82.4mph (132.7km/h)
Climate Cold, rainy
Road Wet tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/4