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Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2012 Review

It's still a reasonably-large squared-off wagon that could only be from one 4WD manufacturer.
EXPERT RATING
8
Regal, royal (by appointment to several crown-wearers) and rapid, the Range Rover Sport is a more youthful take on the long-running off-roader nameplate. Yet is is more closely related to the Discovery than it is to the Range Rover Vogue flagship, despite the aesthetic similarities.  We're driving the entry-level

Regal, royal (by appointment to several crown-wearers) and rapid, the Range Rover Sport is a more youthful take on the long-running off-roader nameplate. Yet is is more closely related to the Discovery than it is to the Range Rover Vogue flagship, despite the aesthetic similarities. 

We're driving the entry-level drivetrain - the twin-turbodiesel V6 - albeit in the Autobiography guise with bodykit, which takes it down the path more worn by R&B singers than off-roaders. 

VALUE

Like its namesake, the RR Sport can be viewed as two cars in one, which helps make the TDV6 Autobiography's $121,300 pricetag somewhat easier to justify. While the white paint and the red and black interior leather trim might be the duck's guts for a St Kilda supporter, it's perhaps not the best combination.

The features list has a good-quality. LED tail lights, automatic bi-xenon headlights with corner illumination, rain-sensing wipers, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with function buttons for cruise, phone and sound systems, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone link and full iPod connectivity. 

A few of the options boxes have been ticked on the test car - the body kit adds $9300, the invaluable rear seat TV/DVD entertainment system adds $4100, the electric tilt and slide glass sunroof  is a little steep at $3170 but the neatly-stowed (beneath the boot floor) tow bar pack is reasonably-priced at $530 - the price as tested was $138,400.

TECHNOLOGY

There's a whole host of technology sitting within the rather portly 2500kg Sport package. Being based on the Discovery chassis meant the Sport got Terrain Response before the Range Rover - once again it is leading the implementation of new suspension features, with the Terrain Response now featuring a Dynamic driving mode to further control the already-good handling manners, with a 20 per cent stiffer rear roll control bar, steering, throttle and transmission attitudes altered accordingly. 

The twin-turbo common-rail direct-injection V6 uses a parallel sequential turbocharger system, which instead of dedicating a turbo to each side of the V6 uses a variable-geometry turbocharger in the lower rev range, with the second turbo taking 500 milliseconds to kick in above 2500rpm.

The result - 180kW and 600Nm of torque - 29 percent more power and 36 percent more torque than the previous 2.7-litre turbodiesel V6 - comes at a thirst of 9.2l/100km, down 8.9 per cent on the old V6. Land Rover says there's 500Nm of torque on offer from just above idle.

DESIGN

The Sport with the bodykit looks more like it should be cruising Hollywood Boulevarde than the Gunbarrel Highway, with a deeper front spoiler, side skirts, a rear diffuser and square-tipped exhausts. 

It's still a reasonably-large squared-off wagon that could only be from one 4WD manufacturer - floating roof and all - but it doesn't quite have the same regal arrogance about it, nor does it turn as many heads as the RR Vogue I'd had a few weeks prior. 

The Sport's rear end features a split tailgate, which can lift in one piece for larger items or the top section can open separately - but the fold-down "boot party" tailgate remains the sole domain of the Vogue.

SAFETY

Quite apart from the all-seeing "command" driving position that helps you see problems before they become accidents, the Rangie Sport is brought to a halt with conviction by big ventilated disc brakes front and rear.

The clever suspension keeps diving to a minimum with the adaptive suspension system, but there's the full gamut of electronic safety systems - stability control (with rollover protection), hill descent control and hill start assist, dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags.

The test car also had parking sensors, a reversing camera and the high-beam assist was fitted.

DRIVING

Something this tall - with such similar DNA strands to the Discovery and the Range Rover - has no right to such flat, stable and rapid cornering prowess. It is easy to forget how far off the ground this vehicle is, so clever is the suspension.

Even without the dynamic driving mode selected, body roll is fought with vigour, without ride being led to the sacrificial slaughter - composure and comfort are the system's watchwords. Dynamic mode certainly changes its priorities but ride quality is not forsaken.

Turn-in is almost crisp (for such a heavy beast) and the electronics do well to counteract bodyroll, understeer and wheelspin. The higher-set dash and centre console give the front occupants a snug feeling, while rear passengers generally only complained when power lines made ABC3 For Kids a bit fuzzy.

Just because it's got a bodykit that looks more Pimp My Ride than Parachilna Gorge, doesn't mean it hasn't got off-road moxy. The Terrain Response system is child's play and even with road-biased 40-series rubber on 20in wheels, the Sport scrabbles over rocks and slippery mud without any apparent effort, although the reduced clearances of the bodykit would mean anyone getting off the beaten track won't be ticking that box.

For half that outlay you could expand the fuel tank size, get locking diffs and option up have the rugrat-taming TV screens in the back seat. You could also (as one owner I spoke to has done) got on eBay, bought a second set of wheels and sourced some proper off-road rubber for it - then watch it walk past some "proper" off-roaders bogged to their axles.

Power delivery from the turbodiesel V6 is seamless, although it takes decent prod of the long-travel throttle pedal to get underway. The TDV6 almost matches the slightly heavier supercharged V8 for torque (-25Nm), but is 195kW down on power, not to mention the absence of the delicious and melodic supercharged V8 yowl. 

Mind you, for a three-second quicker trip to the state limit, you'll be better off at the bowser. Even around town, the diesel claims 11.2, compared to the petrol engine's 21.8; on the highway the TDV6 boasts 8.1 while the supercharged V8 gets close to single digits at 10.7. 

At the end of our stint in the Sport the trip computer was showing 13l/100km, no mean feat given I'd crawled around an old quarry and some dilapidated fire trails and most of its sealed-surface work had been metropolitan.

VERDICT

It should not surprise that this "Sport" has what it takes to more than mix it with the more modern SUVs on the blacktop, yet you can flick a few switches and mix it up with the utilitarian off-road brigade. Fewer niggles on quality and better ergonomics are the benefits of BMW and then Ford ownership.

My hope is that while I wait for my numbers to come up, the Dynamic mode makes it into the Range Rover flagship - as good as the Sport is, the regal arrogance of the Vogue still wins me ove

Range Rover Sport TDV6

Price: $121,300 (as tested $138,400)
Warranty: 3 years, 100,000km
Resale: 56% source: Glass's Guide
Service Interval: 15,000km or 12-months
Economy: 9.2 l/100km, on test , tank 84 litres; 243g/km CO2
Safety: Equipment six airbags, ABS, EBD, DSC. Crash rating four star
Engine: 180kW/600Nm 24-valve three-litre twin-turbo diesel V6
Transmission: six-speed auto
Body: 5-door, 5 seats 
Dimensions: 4783mm (L); 2004mm (W, mirrors folded); 1789mm (H); 2745mm (WB)
Weight: 2535kg
Tyre: Size 275/40 R20. Spare Tyre full size

Pricing Guides

$38,999
Based on 63 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$28,499
Highest Price
$51,811

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 SDV6 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $28,499 – 44,888 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2012 3.0 SDV6 Pricing and Specs
3.0 SDV6 Autobiography 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $43,888 – 51,811 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2012 3.0 SDV6 Autobiography Pricing and Specs
3.0 SDV6 Luxury 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $34,888 – 49,990 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2012 3.0 SDV6 Luxury Pricing and Specs
5.0 V8 Luxury 5.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $50,270 – 57,750 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2012 5.0 V8 Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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