Range Rover Sport SDV8 review

20 Nov, 2013 12:00pm Tom Phillips

Driver-focused Range Rover Sport gets potent diesel V8 engine

Verdict

4
Adding the larger SDV8 diesel to the Sport is a no-brainer. The engine’s torquey delivery is a great match for the well tuned chassis and gives this model a staggering breadth of ability. It’s a great off-roader with an 850mm wading depth – but also a potent driver’s car that delivers a surprisingly engaging, accurate and well honed driving experience.

The Range Rover Sport is now available with the 4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel from the full-size Range Rover.

• Range Rover Sport review

To suit the Sport’s character, the engine gets a new intake that gives it a louder, bassier exhaust note than the range-topper’s Select Dynamic mode and the steering weights up noticeably – particularly when you turn the wheel off centre – while both the throttle and gearbox get more responsive.

The engine performs well, pulling strongly from low revs and giving the 20-inch wheels plenty of work to do, especially in wet conditions. You can shed speed at an impressive rate, too, thanks to a set of progressive and confidence-inspiring Brembo brakes.

A firmer air-suspension set-up than the standard Range Rover’s rounds off lumps and bumps in the road and keeps you connected to the surface, rather than isolating you from it like the larger car does.

And although the Sport is still a big luxury SUV, it has very good body control – even with the heavier V8 diesel engine in its nose. There’s minimal dive under braking and the great body control stops your passengers getting thrown around.

The stiffer set-up means turn-in is sharp for a large car, too – meaning the Sport matches the previous SUV handling champ, the Porsche Cayenne. In fact, the best way of summing up Dynamic mode is that it makes the Sport feel like a larger, faster version of the car-like Evoque. And when you’re not driving hard, Auto mode turns it back into a luxurious cruiser.

The Sport is a different beast to the Range Rover, but if you enjoy driving rather than being driven, this diesel is the sweet spot in an impressive range.

Disqus - noscript

I think you need to do a one-on-one with the RRS and the Cayenne S. You guys are the only ones that rate their handling as being on par.

The Porsche chassis feels 10yrs ahead when it comes to handling, direct feel and balance. Most Cayenne owners only use their .vehicles on road anyway...and RR owners come to think of it.

Key specs

  • Price: £81,550
  • Engine: 4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel
  • Power: 334bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 140mph
  • Economy/CO2: 32.5mpg/229g/km
  • Equipment: 20-inch alloy wheels, climate control, adaptive cruise
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1334
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