Range Rover Sport HSE Luxury


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The Range Rover Sport might cost as much as a small house, but out on the street, the whole neighbourhood’s heads will turn, Jaco Kirsten found.

What makes the Range Rover Sport so different?

Well, it has more in common mechanically with the Land Rover Discovery – the chassis of which it is based on – than with the Range Rover with which it shares a name.

So isn’t it a kind of a mix between a Discovery and a Range Rover? Yes, quite. In fact, it has been called “Land Rover’s Frankenstein” because of its origins. And on top of that, it uses the TDV6 turbodiesel of the Discovery range and the supercharged petrol V8 of the big Range Rover. Unfortunately, the big bruiser of a TDV8 turbodiesel is only available in the normal Range Rover.

Why would one want to own one? Well, whereas the Range Rover and Discovery are aimed at buyers who want good off-road ability, the people at Land Rover are aiming for a trendier, sporty market with this baby. That is for instance, why its roofline is so low – it doesn’t only make it look “fast ’n furious”, but it also keeps the centre of gravity lower than that of the Disco and Range Rover.

So it’s a bit of a goer, then?

Indeed. It’s almost incredible how fast such a big 4×4 can accelerate. Thanks to the adjustable air suspension there’s very little body roll when cornering at high speeds. Of course the low-profile 20-inch tyres help. As does the “Dynamic” setting of the Terrain Response system that firms up the suspension a tad more when you want to press on.

And it’s not as if it doesn’t encourage you to cane it, because at an indicated 180 km/h the engine hums at a laidback 3 180 rpm. In city traffic it takes you a day or two to recalibrate your brain in terms of what is possible with acceleration. See that gap in the distance? Well, we’ve just gone through it.

How, erm, thirsty is it? Here’s the thing. It makes you feel (almost) guilty. Because if you were able to drive slowly with the Range Rover Sport TDV6 HSE Luxury (that’s the name on its birth certificate), you could achieve a figure of less than 10 litres per 100km. And if you really drive carefully on the open road it drops to just over 8 litres/100km.

But fortunately, it’s very hard to drive this thing slowly, so remember that the owners of such vehicles have to pay a lot of fines each month. Every household has its dark secret, you know.

And off-road driving?

Well, the Terrain Response, as we’ve said quite often, is an impressive system. It enables a luxury vehicle to do 160 km/h on a highway and, five minutes later, to rock crawl without breaking a sweat. We took the Sport to our local test track and over some particularly challenging ruts where cross-axle scenarios are guaranteed. It simply breezed through – a lot easier than, for example, a Nissan Pathfinder that also relies on electronics to control wheel spin over obstacles.

So, will it breeze over Van Zyl’s Pass? Hmm, not quite – the main reason being its 20-inch tyres. You can’t deflate them in thick sand, hence they don’t offer enough “flotation” and you need to nail the accelerator relentlessly. Granted, 180 kW and 600 Nm are helpful if you can maintain momentum. But when you have to deflate, it won’t make a big difference because of the low profile, and the tyres’ sidewalls will be very vulnerable.
On the rocky Namaqua Eco-Trail in the Northern Cape we lost two 19-inch tyres on a Disco 4. You can get quite good off-road 19-inch tyres for the D4 (at more than R3000 a pop…), but the same cannot be said for 20-inch tyres.

Therefore, if you occasionally want to take on some obstacles, the Range Rover Sport can do it quite easily. But it is aimed at people who are more interested in Lacoste than St Lucia. And if you don’t know what Lacoste is, don’t worry – you’re not in the Sport’s target market.

Speaking of luxury, what does the inside look like?

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By now, the design language for Land Rover’s interiors is pretty much established. When the Range Rover was unveiled about ten years ago, the company claimed that the inspiration had been drawn “from a yacht’s interior”. Well, in that case the Sport’s interior is based on the expensive motor yacht of an Arabian playboy sheik. It’s pretty, expensive and only a blind person won’t notice the detail.

And the interior? Although the Sport is based on the Disco’s underpinnings, it offers less room. There’s no third row of seats. And the luggage bay at the back is also smaller. Whereas the Discovery is aimed at (wealthy) families, the Range Rover Sport is aimed at (even more) wealthy families with one or two kids who only wear clothes with very exclusive lables, use Apple laptops and have learnt to ski before discovering that milk comes from cows.

Gadgets and stuff?
The HSE Luxury (it costs R60 000 more than the “entry-level” HSE’s R850 995) has almost everything that opens and shuts. There’s a rear-view camera to stop you from reversing over Santa Claus in the Pick ’n Pay parking lot in Plett over Christmas. Add to that a touch-screen satellite-navigation and sound system, perforated leather seats, DVD/game screens in the back of the headrests, a small fridge between the front seats and a list of options longer than your average N1 traffic jam – and which will cost you almost as much as Charlie Sheen’s monthly booze bill.

Conclusion:

The Range Rover Sport HSE Luxury is much flashier than it is capable. And it’s very capable. So unless you are Tony Yengeni or Wayne Rooney, you might be slightly shy to be seen in something like this.

Key stats

Engine: 2 993 cc, V6 turbodiesel
Power: 180 kW @ 4 000 rpm
Torque: 600 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Top speed: 200 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9.3 sec
Transmission: 6-speed auto, permanent four-wheel drive, high- and low-range, electronic traction control
Suspension: Independent, adjustable air suspension
Brakes: Ventilated discs
Tyres: 275/40 R20
Ground clearance: 227 mm (highest setting)
Approach angle: 30.3º (highest setting)
Departure angle: 29º (highest setting)
Wading depth: 700mm
Kerb weight: 2535kg
Fuel tank: 88 litre
Consumption: 9.25 litre/100 km (combined)
Service plan: 5 year/100 000km
Warranty: 3 year/100 000km
Service interval: 12 000km/6 months
Price: R910 995

Also consider: Porsche Cayenne Diesel – R680 000, BMW X5 40d – R767 500; VW Touareg V8 TDI – R776 000

Drive Out says:

Beggars won’t even try to ask for money when you’re driving in one of these babies. Instead, they tell you upfront: “It’s a lekker cab, my bra!”

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