2017 Range Rover Sport Td6 HSE
It may be dark days for diesel, but Range Rover sticks with it to good effect
Words by: Adam Allen
Diesel just makes sense for these SUVs.
Diesel has taken quite the beating in the court of public opinion over the last few years (cough-cough, Volkswagen) but the fact remains that oil burners have a lot to offer when they comply with emissions standards mandated by the federal government. The advantages of diesel are compelling, especially in the prestige SUV space- where else can you get your hands on something that moves this much gilded mass around so smartly and will also tow a 3,500-kilogram boat with your family along in comfort? Even more importantly, where are you going to find something that is fed a diet of premium gasoline that even slightly returns the same mileage as boring crossovers? The answer those questions inevitably ends up being diesel power.
Didn’t you miss the lovely supercharged V8 commonly found in the engine bays of these rigs?
There were moments when we dearly missed the big supercharged V8 which produces a brawny 510 horsepower and 461 pounds feet of torque- significantly more that what the diesel can muster. It sounds better too, and the diesel can’t touch the gas engine where throttle response is concerned. It trounces the oil burner in every accelerative metric, but the fuel bills that rack up rather quickly may cause pause for thought. In the real world, the diesel is likely the better choice- it isn’t actually that much slower and its 440 lbs./ft. of torque are most effective low down in the rev range, perfect for commuting and sailing effortlessly down the highway.
OK, but…Has the edge of the sportiest Range Rover been dulled by the engine?
Diesels are inherently lazier than their gasoline powered counterparts- they make most of their usable power way down on the tach compared to gas engines that like to rev much higher to access their grunt. With a low redline of 4,800 rpm, you probably won’t want to challenge many would-be opponents at the stoplight Grand Prix, and passing on rural two-lane roads will require a little more planning. That’s the thing about the diesel; it will not encourage you to drive spiritedly. You won’t have to put up with any of the unseemly vibration or gruffness you might expect either- Range Rover have tuned this engine to be quiet so well that some might never know they are being pulled around by an oil burner. We wondered if perhaps the diesel powerplant might be at odds with the sporting bent of our tester, and despite its more relaxed demeanor it will still embrace any playful driving you ask of it. Part of that should be credited and the incredibly stiff structure and well thought out chassis setup, but the secret weapon has to be the air suspension. It is truly impressive at how well it exercises diciplined body control and the engineers absolutely nailed the ride/handling balance. Any vehicle that is capable wafting down the road soaking up imperfections with aplomb and then make short work of a pockmarked highway on-ramp without so much as a whimper from the chassis is pretty darn impressive in our books. It will even hike up the body so you can tackle some gnarly terrain if you do ever venture out off the beaten path.
Do you still get to enjoy the finery of British opulence once inside?
Other than the first utilitarian ancestors the brand built in its infancy, most would agree that Range Rover interiors have evolved to the point where they can best be described as chuffing marvelous. Even those with OCD will take solace in the fact that panel gaps align perfectly and there is nary a whiff of cheapness to be found, anywhere. The leather that drapes over most surfaces must’ve come from cows who lead pampered lives and you get the feeling that the craftspeople that assembled the interior would step back and look over their work with furrowed brows, accepting nothing short of perfection where build quality is concerned. The seats might give up some comfort to the lavish thrones of the Autobiography model we recently tested, but where they lack in plushness they make up for with more bolstering for lateral support- this is a Sport model, after all. We praised the new InTouch infotainment system for being much better to use than previous versions, but there is still a little room for improvement- we’d like a better method of tuning satellite radio stations that pressing a small on-screen arrow you have to concentrate to find. Still, that is a small gripe compared to what you had to deal with in the past with even the simplest commands turning into a chore, if they were even carried out at all.
What might go wrong?
We reminded you earlier that this is indeed the Sport model in the Range Rover range, which is why we were puzzled when we went to grab the shifter paddles behind the steering wheel and…nothing. That’s because there aren’t any. Same deal with the familiar switch on the console to select Dynamic (sport) Mode- they haven’t fitted the diesel model with one of those either. We mentioned that the takin’-it-easy nature of the diesel’s power deliver won’t inspire much spirited driving, but we would at least like the option to add some edge to the proceedings. A few times the rear cross traffic alert beeping didn’t cease even after we were well underway moving forward in Drive which necessitated pulling over and rebooting the Rangie by turning it off and then on again. Not a huge deal, but hopefully that little hiccup is not alluding to deeper problems with the electronics.
Should I buy a Range Rover Sport Td6?
If your wish list for a luxury SUV contains items such as an immaculately tailored cabin, robust towing and off-road prowess and top shelf manners on the tarmac, there are a few different choices for you to pursue. If you add family sedan rivaling fuel economy to that list, your choices are for the most part limited to just two- the Range Rover Sport and the Mercedes Benz GL series. The Benz isn’t as nicely put together nor will it be able to remotely keep up with the Range Rover when forging a trail through the bush. See that? We just answered the question for you. Now you just need to go and write that cheque.
2017 Range Rover Sport Td6 HSE- Specifications
- Price as tested: $86,100
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.0 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 254 @ 3,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 440 @ 1,750 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,136 kg (4,709 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.9L/100km (24 mpg)