Our road test and review of the Range Rover Sport SDV6 reveals a car with plenty of performance and relatively low running costs.
If you’ve read our review of the Range Rover Sport, you’ll know it is about as good a luxury SUV as money can buy — its only real flaw, at least in 5.0-litre supercharged guise, being its insatiable appetite for petrol and its high emissions.
There is a solution, however. If you can tolerate sacrificing a little performance, the near-entry-level Range Rover Sport SDV6 diesel can provide plenty of thrills and won’t drink you out of house and home. Here’s how it compares to the flagship.
There aren’t many aesthetic differences between this ‘lesser’ Range Rover Sport SDV6 and the flagship model. In fact, specify it in top-spec Autobiography Dynamic guise and it is near indistinguishable from the more expensive car. There are no significant compromises under the skin, either. The Range Rover Sport SDV6 uses the same chassis as the flagship V8 Supercharged car, which in turn borrows its chassis from the full Range Rover.
The Range Rover Sport TDV6 inherits the same pros and cons as the V8 car where practicality is concerned. It’s ride height, though lower than the outgoing Sport, makes it tricky to get into if you’re vertically-challenged or have limited mobility. Its rear quarters are slightly smaller than those of the full Range Rover so it’s less limo-like, and its 784-litre boot offers marginally less space than the 909-litre trunk in its bigger sibling.
Land Rover provides the option of a third row of seats at the very back, but these are best reserved for orcs, dwarves or small children and only on short journeys.
Expect plenty of usable storage space in the front of the cabin. The refrigerated central cubby is large enough for four small bottles of water or a bottle of bubbly, there are all sorts of trays and compartments for phones and other gadgets and there are two cup holders within easy reach.
Our only gripe is the fact it’s nearly impossible to fit your hands in the door pockets without first opening the door. Unless you have the hands of a three-year-old child, you’ll have to pull over and open the door before you can rescue that packet of mints.
Land Rover provides the option of a third row of seats at the very back of the Sport, but these are best reserved for orcs, dwarves or small children and only on short journeys.
Performance & Handling
The Range Rover Sport SDV6 loses quite a bit to the 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged where performance is concerned, but that’s not to say it’s slow. Its 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine is powerful and strong throughout the rev range, capable of 292hp and 600Nm of torque from as low as 2,000rpm.
Its 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds means it’ll keep pace with hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST quite easily and if you find a long enough stretch of road it’ll keep pulling until the speedo reads 130mph or your rear view mirror is full of blue lights.
The Range Rover Sport SDV6 is pretty handy through the bends, too. Slide the eight-speed ZF gearbox into sport mode and it’ll give you more precise manual control over which of the eight gears you want to select using either the paddle shifters behind the wheel or the sequential stick on the centre console.
Hit the button marked ‘Dynamic mode’ and the suspension firms up, the throttle response improves and the steering quickens in readiness for a more spirited drive. In this setting, the car remains remarkably flat through corners for something of this size and its rear locking differential with electronic torque vectoring by braking system helps it turn in remarkably well, minimising understeer on corner entry.
The Range Rover Sport is just as capable away from tarmac. Show it a river and it’ll wade like it’s part fish through water as deep as 33.5 inches. There’s little danger of you scraping its bottom along jagged rocks when off roading. Whereas the previous car’s ride height could be raised by 55mm, this car’s new air suspension system offers a choice of either a 35mm increase in height or a 65mm increase in height, giving it the look of a miniature monster truck when tackling inhospitable terrain.
Economy & Environment
The Range Rover Sport SDV6’s real trump card is its efficiency. Whereas the 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged model struggles to get a claimed 22.1mpg (we managed 15mpg), the SDV6 returns 37.7mpg on the combined cycle, which is impressive for a vehicle of its size and capability. A Porsche Cayenne Diesel S, which offers similar on-road performance, returns a claimed 34.4mpg combined. The Range Rover Sport SDV6 spits CO2 at a rate of 199g/km, 7g more than the Porsche.
Equipment & Value
The Range Rover Sport SDV6 is available in the same trims and with the same options as the 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged. The cheapest of these is the £59,995 entry-level HSE model, which comes with paddle shifters, front fog lamps, premium metallic paint, 20-inch wheels, 14-way electric seats with armrests, a heating function and four-way lumbar support, heated rear seats, power adjustable steering column, aluminium tread plates with ‘Range Rover’ lettering, front parking aids, rear view camera and keyless entry.
£64,995 buys you the HSE Dynamic trim, which comes with larger 21-inch wheels and illuminated tread plates. The top-spec, £74,995 Autobiography Dynamic trim level comes with red brake callipers, a sliding panoramic roof, painted side sills and bumpers, automatic headlamps with high beam assist, a 19-speaker Meridian audio system, heated and cooled front seats with heated rear seats, leather heated steering wheel with multifunction controls and better carpet mats.
Euro NCAP has yet to test the new Range Rover Sport, but we’ll eat our hats if it’s not as solid as a house. The car is based on the full Range Rover, which scored five stars in crash testing, along with an impressive 91 per cent adult occupancy rating.
Few mortals can afford to buy, let alone run the V8, so we should be grateful Land Rover has provided us with a thoroughly impressive alternative.
The Range Rover Sport SDV6 might be powered by a diesel engine almost half the size of the flagship car, but its wide range of abilities almost beggars belief. It’ll astonish you with its off road abilities, astound you with its on-road performance and amaze you with the qualify of its design.
It might play second fiddle to the 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged, but it makes almost everything else on the market look a bit rubbish in comparison. We love it.
Model tested: Range Rover Sport SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Emissions: 199g/km CO2
Price: From £59.995. £74,995 as tested