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Range Rover Sport 2010 Review

Engine | Performance | Ride | Off-road Ability | Interior | Discovery 4 Specification

The Range Rover Sport has long remained true to its core value of delivering a remarkable combination of on and off road capability. The new features and refinements of the MY10 Sport can only expand its appeal and the passion of dedicated RRS drivers.

Design
The Range Rover Sport is, without doubt the prettiest of the Land Rover bunch with its instantly recognisable silhouette and elegant lines, all culminated by a purposeful yet refined stance. The 10MY Sport receives Land Rover’s designer wardrobe makeover with elegant exterior enhancements that clearly separate it from its 2009 predecessor.

The ultra modern rear tail light treatment and eye-catching diamond tiara LED encrusted headlamps, might have some of the Range Rover traditionalists thinking it’s a little garish! Yet if you stand back and take in the bigger picture, it’s easy to see that the 10MY sport has undergone the nip and tuck enhancements of an expert designer’s knife removing superfluous square edged accents to achieve refined smoother lines on the newly sculptured front fenders, front and rear bumpers and a modern new two bar front grill proudly displaying the black over silver Land Rover badge. The subtle changes successfully complement established signature design cues and give the Sport its uniquely aggressive but stylish shape.

Engines
This model launches no less than three new engines on the options list.

There’s the silky naturally aspirated high tech 276kW LR-V8 5.0l as we previously tested in a Discovery 4. This is exactly what a 4x4 V8 petrol should be - smooth, quiet, and happy to pin you to the seat when the pedal hits the carpet. Whilst a thirstier model than the diesel, the V8 still impressively returns a whisker under 14l/100km. It’s a tough call, but I suspect a large percentage of buyers would find the not insignificant price hike to the very sweet petrol V8 too bitter a pill to swallow. Even with the petrol copping some additional accessories, given the 3.0l diesel’s outstanding performance, fuel economy and driving characteristics it may well be the day of the diesel.

Then there is the tattooed street fighter in the corner, opening wall nuts with a sledge hammer… Yes, it’s the eye watering thrust of the monster 375kW LR-V8 5.0l supercharged petrol. Seriously, 375kW of force fed after burner hurtling over 2.5 tonne of 4x4 towards maximum legal street speeds in times that would make a race horse burst into tears…! Now I’ve not yet driven this sophisticated road going version of the Harrier Jump Jet so I’ll reserve comment until I get the opportunity to access this direct injected double espresso full strength caffeine jolt in a real world environment.

There’s still that little lion hearted 3.6l TDV8 with its sultry exhaust note, a very respectable 200kW of power and 640Nm of torque, but sadly the performance of its younger sibling 3.0l V6 is so good it seems to make this once proud V8 rather redundant. This very assertive LR-TDV6 3.0l twin turbo was in our standard Range Rover Sport test vehicle.

The original 2.7L single turbo V6 diesel was impressive with its ability to deliver on any request put before it without complaint and it always gave the impression you were driving a much larger capacity engine. But LR’s new 3.0L twin turbo has not only raised the bar for acceptable diesel performance in this capacity class, they've moved it to a whole new playing field. It produces a tire torturing 600Nms of torque with 500 of them rushing to make your acquaintance as you move off idle. The mid range punch and quietness would embarrass most 6 cylinder petrols, yet it slurps delicately at an indicated drinking rate of 9.2l/100km.With 180kWs on tap that’s effectively a 36% increase in torque and a 29% increase in power over the outgoing 2.7.

You’ll find yourself checking under the bonnet in disbelief…but I reckon the competition will be scurrying back to their engineering departments and feverishly re-working their plans before the next Board meeting.

This new high tech V6 Diesel runs an interesting twist on the standard parallel twin turbo theme in which one turbo feeds each bank of the V configuration. In a first, LR has increased efficiency by introducing a parallel ‘sequential’ turbocharger system. In a “why didn’t we think of that before move” the variable-geometry primary turbocharger responds rapidly developing boost pressure at low engine rpm eliminating lag and providing a crisp throttle response. The second fixed-geometry turbo remains dormant until revs climb above 2,500rpm before it grunts on in. The result is an engine which produces outstanding levels of torque yet brisk throttle response at low rpm.

Performance
This engine never ceased to impress me, from the moment you touch the keyless start button your first impression is the effectiveness of the noise suppression. Outside there is a subdued diesel rumble, more than a stereotypical commercial diesel chatter. Inside the cabin with windows up, you might think it’s stalled, if it weren’t for the tacho needle providing evidence of activity.

This V6 diesel is nothing if not unbelievable in the way it’s oblivious to the sheer bulk and weight of the vehicle surrounding it. It just up and goes – rather like the family dog dragging the kids along for a run. Engage drive and release the electronic park brake and that huge torque delivery plays effortlessly with the weight of the vehicle. Mind you, it won’t roar into life and lift the weight from the front wheels, creasing the rear side walls under brutal acceleration (we’ll leave that to its force fed big brother). What is experienced, due to the revised ZF HP28 6-speed doing a superb job of picking the perfect ratio for any given engine rpm, is a torque curve so linear you can almost watch the tacho and speedometer needle move in harmony.

Whether in stop start peak hour, open road cruising or downshifting past that slower vehicle, the 6 speed auto responds with quick smooth accurate shifts in the standard auto mode. An intelligent sport mode will even sense and adapt the characteristics of the transmission to complement different driving styles.

I was impressed with the ZF in the V8 petrol but LR has done a brilliant job of calibrating it to exploit the full potential of the diesel’s large torque reserves. It engages the transmission's lock-up clutch much earlier in each gear, reducing slip through the hydraulic torque converter, and improving both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. There’s even a steering wheel mounted paddle-shift on the supercharged big brother.

The Ride
I The term Sport and 4x4 capability seem an odd juxtaposition… it’s like having an unsinkable boat anchor. Sounds handy, but kind of defeats its intended purpose.

If past history and the previous limitations in mechanical application and technical design taught us anything, it was genuine off road prowess was at the opposite end of the pendulum for spirited on road driving dynamics and never shall the two meet. Manufacturers walk a fine line and have to make decisions based on their target audience as to which side of the line they fall.

The bold innovation of Terrain Response allowed LR to overcome the limitations that plagued a fixed off road mechanical design. L R continue to fine tune this approach, further increasing levels of on road finesse yet anchoring their core off road ability.

Through a comprehensive programme of chassis system modifications the RR Sport’s on road prowess and dynamics have been significantly improved, whilst furthering the capabilities of its all terrain system.

The standard Sport is superb on the hard top longer hauls, and really comes into its own on those long sweeping country roads. Truth be known, it’s far better than a vehicle of these dimensions and weight has a right to be, providing a feeling of muscular athleticism rather than the heavy bulky mass that it is. The steering is nicely weighted allowing finger tip adjustments as you point and shoot through the bends.

The suspension feels taught offering good control over body roll, but not too firm to be intrusive on ride quality and the air suspension does a great job of soaking up various road surface irregularities. Cabin noise is well suppressed and engine noise is all but none existent at cruising speeds with a slight hum of wind over the wing mirrors at speed.

The larger braking system now wearing 360mm front / 350mm rear discs provides a sure footed feel and can wash off road speed with seemingly little effort. With such efficiency, low speed light brake application calls for a gentle touch.

There’s also a new setting on the TR system (not fitted to our test vehicle) which adds an option called “dynamic response”. The more enthusiastic driver is rewarded with a greater sense of involvement with the road, completely oblivious to the technology and complexity beneath them that is constantly adjusting a range of driveline and steering parameters based on real-time information received from various systems in the vehicle, body and wheels in order to increase body control.

The steering is light at low speeds and takes little effort to maneuver it around most objects. But reality rapidly returns back in town, this is still a big vehicle and its dimensions become all too evident in tight traffic or those city compressed car park bays.

Off-road Ability
Eager to test the Sport’s claims of improved off road performance, we headed for the sand. With dubious expectations of having any real assistance or relevant increase in foot print length as we aired down to around 20psi on those ridiculous road biased 19’ tires, we nosed the Sport into the soft sand. With the TR now set for sand mode, you could immediately feel the changes to throttle response with a strong engine torque whilst the traction aids backed off to allow more wheel spin. Being able to raise the vehicle height at the press of a button for extra underbody clearance was a definite benefit, especially in the deeper ruts.

Whilst the track deteriorated and the sandy surface now looked remarkably like a lunar landscape, we still felt extremely relaxed in the cabin as the Sport competently set about dealing with large dips and rises. The Sport displayed an almost obstinate attitude refusing to succumb to several power sapping sections where the sand become so soft and deep it would have been hard to walk on let alone drive 2.5 tonne of vehicle through on low profile road tires! Yet the relentless torque and sufficient momentum saw us maintain good floatation across those deep bowls of almost white powder. However, the Sport did throw us a curve ball on one instance as we crossed the last small section of very soft sand. More on that later.

There is no electronic substitute for the skills of an experienced driver. You can get any vehicle bogged and the Range Rover Sport is no exception. No amount of electronics can overcome driver foolishness – but what did impress was the depth of capability the electronic tools provided to perform well in tough conditions, straight off the showroom floor.

After agreeing it was surprisingly good on sand, it was time to test its metal on some rocky climbs and slippery gravel tracks. Now with this much power on tap and so easily dispersed, surely it would be a handful on ball bearing gravel? Actually, no. To our disbelief a quick flick of the terrain response dial to ‘grass, gravel and snow’ saw the Sport launch off the mark with not a hint of traction loss and acceleration that would cause a greyhound to book himself in for a check up with the local vet.

With good wheel articulation, thanks in part to the cross linked air suspension control, when in low range the Sport made short work of all but the most difficult washouts and rock ledges. What was impressive was how smooth and relatively quiet was the hill descent control, making the competition’s versions completely agricultural by comparison. Just as effective was the engine braking in first gear allowing us to tip the nose of the Sport over slippery and tight turns on loose rocky descents.

The LR boys wanted to ensure durability in off road driving conditions even if many Sports will live largely on the blacktop. Both the petrol and diesel variants receive Land Rover’s additional enhancements featuring a deeper sump to accommodate extreme angles off-road and water proofing for drive belts, alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump and starter motor.

The Sport never seemed phased by whatever we threw at it, always remaining stately in its execution of duties. That being said, the Sport won’t match a modified purpose built off road worrier – but why on earth would anyone expect it to? But it does provide a smooth on road (dare I say it) sporty feel whilst demonstrating an off road capability that would surprise the majority of genuine 4x4 enthusiasts. The Sport rightly deserves a reputation as a genuine Sports tourer in a market of polished pretenders.

 Reliability
If there’s one thing that remains consistent in people’s minds it’s the reputation of any product as being unreliable. Past Land Rover’s have not enjoyed wide spread acknowledgement of reliability, more tending towards a reputation of a finicky temperamental breed. However, a number of recent surveys indicate Land Rover have been making significant inroads to reasserting itself as a quality manufacturer of premium off road capable vehicles with the very latest in automotive technology and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

On our particular vehicle, the passengers’ side middle row seat release button allowing the backrest to pivot forward came off in our hand, and the sliding segmented centre console cover was separating on the leading edge. Obviously these are minor items that would be quickly addressed during normal service/warranty maintenance, but embarrassing for a vehicle of this caliber.

However, what was of concern was an intermittent loss of engine power during our soft sand testing. Needing to traverse some short but very soft sections the V6 diesel would respond rapidly with a smooth strong delivery of torque climbing to 3000rpm but on the very last section of our test, engine power was cut without warning seeing the tacho rpm drop back to 1500 then power on again until reaching 3000rpm. This happened repeatedly. We managed to get through this very soft section but not without some trepidation that the Sport may stop all together.

Having stopped on firmer ground, we carried out all the standard vehicle inspections, both under bonnet and underbody, looking for any visual signs that may indicate a problem. The internal information display showed no recorded errors, and we had no warning lights. We decided to shut everything down, and restart the vehicle. From that point forward the vehicle’s operation for the rest of our journey was flawless. Even similar soft sections in a straight line presented no issue for the big Sport.

Interior Styling
Finally, an interior befitting a vehicle of this caliber. The RRS retains the feel of sitting in the cockpit of a jet fighter due to the raised console, and everything neatly falls around you. Some may find it initially a little claustrophobic when compared to the D4 or bigger Range Rover, but this quickly disappears as you mould yourself into the superbly comfortable electric fully adjustable seats with comfortable arm rests. Some taller drivers will be aware of the roof lining with the sunroof fitted.

Brushed satin metal highlights and elegant wood paneling adorn the cabin, with rich leather seating and soft touch surfaces completing this truly opulent and luxurious executive office.

There’s a commanding visibility of the road ahead and rear reversing sensors to protect the extremities when backing up. One blinding omission that’s inexcusable in a vehicle of this price bracket was the absence of a standard reversing camera – it’s only incorporated into the expensive option of the 5 camera surround system.

A new larger centrally mounted screen with improved graphics and touch control functionality now incorporates the audio controls for the superb Harman Kardon stereo, Satellite Navigation and off road 4x4 display information. But the racked angle of the touch screen and polished vent surrounds can catch the over head sunshine from the sunroof, causing a brief uncomfortable glare.

The game console type multi directional buttons are perfectly positioned on the steering wheel providing audio controls, vehicle setup information and settings via the instrument panel multi-function display. There are also large easy to use buttons for cruise control, and the blue tooth phone system operation. Tilt and rake for the steering wheel are electronically controlled by a neat four way toggle on the lower left side of the steering shroud.

There’s even a voice command button allowing you to control a number of the vehicle systems and settings as long as you’re prepared to take the time and learn the required lingo. There’s good rear seat leg room whilst the Sport provides a good sized luggage area behind the rear seats which becomes a very substantial loading space when the rear seats are folded flat.

With the rear hatch lifted, loading gear into the Sport is a breeze, whilst the pivoting glass window offers quick access to the back for bags or smaller items.

Some of the standard features on our test vehicle included were dual-zone climate control air conditioning plus full iPod integration with a USB input, digital radio and CD player. There’s no less than eight airbags to keep you and your passengers safe, whilst the keyless entry and push button stop start with auto sensing wipes and driving lights all add to the driver pampering.

Conclusion
Unlike the Range Rover or D4 which provide effortless comfortable long distance touring capability, the Sport somehow invites driver participation; it feels more interactive in its driving dynamics. Given the Sports selection of available power plants; its striking good looks, spirited performance and an interior dressed to impress its hard not to agree that this 2010 Range Rover Sport is set to continue its tradition as the consummate choice for a genuine off road capable luxury performance Sports Tourer.

submitted by Ray Cully

 

RANGE ROVER SPORT 2010 SPECS

Engine:
3.0 liter TDV6

  • Refined and highly efficient 3.0 liter parallel sequencial twin turbo diesel:

  • Class-leading 600Nm of torque (36% increase) and 180kW of power (29% increase)

  • Fuel consumption improved by 8.9%, delivering 9.2 l/100km on combined EU cycle

  • CO2 emissions reduced by 8.3% to 243g/km

  • 500Nm torque from idle in 500ms (83% of maximum torque)

Features and finish:

Whilst the 3.0 TDV6, 3.6 TDV8 and 5.0 V8 are considered the entry level models, in the Range Rover Sport stable, all three share a very high level of standard features as below:

  • 6-Speed adaptive automatic gearbox with CommandShift®

  • Cruise control

  • Push Button Start including electronic steering lock

  • Terrain Response™ and Electric Park Brake

  • Permanent four wheel Drive

  • Diesel Mis-Fuelling protection device (diesel models only: 3.0 TDV6 & 3.6 TDV8)

  • Centre electronic differential with low range transfer box

  • Electronic cross linked air suspension with automatic load leveling and multiple modes, access, normal, off-road, extended height

  • Power assisted, speed proportional steering (PAS)

  • Dynamic Response (3.6L TDV8 only)

  • Acoustic Windscreen and front row side glass

  • Rain sensing wipers and automatic headlamps

  • Exterior mirrors - power adjustable, heated

  • Door puddle lamps and footwell lamps.

  • Rear view camera (standard on 3.6L TDV8 and 5.0 V8, option on 3.0 TDV6)

  • Headlamps - automatic and rain sensors

  • Bi-Xenon headlights with cornering lamps

  • Headlamp powerwash

  • Front Fog Lamps

  • Park Distance Control - Rear

  • Tailgate power latching

  • Body Coloured mirror caps

  • Rear Mounted Roof Spoiler with centrally mounted rear spoiler

  • 19 x 9" 15 Spoke Alloy Wheel

  • Automatic dimming interior mirror

  • Electric windows with one touch open/close

  • Climate control - automatic with air filration and dual controls

  • Illuminated front vanity mirrors

  • Leather seats with electric driver's and passenger's adjustment (8/8 way) with manual lumbar

  • Front adjustable arm rests

  • Seats - Rear folding 65:35

  • Premium Leather trimmed steering wheel and gear lever

  • Combination of Wood veneer & Noble plated finish interior trim

  • Harman Kardon Audio System - 8 speakers, Steering wheel mounted controls, Passive Subwoofer, Audio Amplifier (240Watts), in dash CD player with eight Speakers and iPod Connectivity Lead

  • Portable Audio Interface - allows connection of iPod, MP3 player and USB Mass Storage Device

  • 5" TFT (Thin Film Transistor Screen) and Driver Information Centre

  • Premium Navigation System (Hard Disk Drive with full colour screen, voice control, off road-mapping and driver information centre

  • Bluetooth® telephone connectivity and integration

  • Auxiliary Power Sockets - Front, rear 2nd row and rear loadspace

  • Control Systems - Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), Slip Control System includes: Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), All-terrain Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Traction control (ETC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic differential control, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Enhanced Understeer Control (EUC), Hydraulic rear brake boost, Roll Stability Control (RSC), Trailer stability assist, Hill Descent Control (HDC) with Gradient Release Control (GRC)

  • Airbags, full size driver & front passenger, driver & front passenger side and head, rear outboard passenger head airbags

  • Remote Central Locking including auto lock on drive away

  • Alarm System - Perimetric Security and passive engine immobilisation

Official Range Rover Sport 2010 Reveal Film
2010 Range Rover Sport Video Car Review
Range Rover Sport 2010 first impressions

 

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