2014 Range Rover Sport TDV6 SE review
Isaac Bober’s first drive Range Rover Sport TDV6 SE review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell Until the Range Rover Sport SVR arrives, the Sport is the most sporting of Range Rover variants and just as capable off-road as the Range Rover proper.
Practical Motoring Says We tested the entry-level Range Rover Sport TDV6 SE and at $102,800 (+ORC) it represents excellent value for money as it essentially combines two cars in one: a luxury performance car and an off-roader. The Range Rover Sport is easily the most capable performance SUV.
THE RANGE ROVER SPORT was launched back in 2013 and sits neatly between the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover proper. And, while its predecessor, no slow coach, was built on the same heavy steel platform as the Land Rover Discovery, this new model sits on the much lighter aluminium chassis that’s slung underneath the current Range Rover – and that adds up to a staggering 420kg of weight saved over its predecessor.
This impressive weight saving as well as new anti-roll bar technology and adaptive dampers have endowed this new Sport with impressive agility without sacrificing any of the comfort you expect from a Range Rover, nor has it compromised its off-road ability.
More than just making the Range Rover Sport lighter on its feet, the weight saving has allowed Land Rover’s engineers to squeeze more power and fuel efficiency from the engine range. We test drove the Sport TDV6 SE (priced from $102,800+ORC) which runs a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 producing 190kW (at 4000rpm) and 600Nm of torque (at 2000rpm), this is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission (our test car had paddle shifts – a $460 extra cost option) – 0-100km/h arrives in just 7.6 seconds. Fuel consumption is a combined 7.3L/100km, although in our time with the Sport we managed to return 7.0L/100km, and that involved a mixture of highway, around town and off-road driving.
While plenty of other websites and magazines have concentrated on the up-stream Range Rover Sport models we reckon it’s this entry-level Sport TDV6 that’s likely to get the most attention. And, there are a few key differences that are worth exploring.
For instance, the Sport TDV6 we’ve tested doesn’t get the heavy-duty four-wheel drive set-up, making do without a low-range transfer box, active anti-roll bars, torque vectoring and a locking rear differential. Instead, it runs a Torsen-based 4WD system which helps save 18kg over the heavier duty system in other Sport models, and that means it doesn’t get low-range and can’t be locked in a 50:50 front to rear torque split. The TDV6 also gets its own traction control tune, but its 4WD system can only shuffle a maximum of 62% of torque to the front axle or 78% to the rear. Of course, the Sport TDV6 still features Land Rover’s Terrain Response system – default torque split is 42:58 front to rear.
For 99.9% of Range Rover Sport buyers the Sport TDV6 offers all the off-road ability you could hope for – indeed it far exceeds the capabilities of its Audi and BMW rivals.
Our test drive took in rutted, and deep-water filled forest tracks slick with mud. After selecting Mud and Ruts on the Terrain Response dial and selecting the Sport’s maximum off-road height (278mm – wheel travel is: 260mm at the front and 272mm at the rear), which remains active at up to 80km/h (up from 50km/h) before dropping the Sport back down to its Normal height, and the Sport made it through without drama. On one set of muddy ruts I even, and this is totally-not-recommended, drove up and over the ruts halfway through and dropped down into another set of ruts; there was no slip, no scrabble, no nothing. Did I miss not having low-range? Nope.
Back on the bitumen and the Sport TDV6 continues to impress with ride and handling that stand it out as quite possibly the most versatile sporting SUV on the market. Sitting on air springs the Sport TDV6 manages to smother bumps and humps in the road at around town speeds, maintaining its smooth composure as speed builds on the highway.
Drive the Sport TDV6 across a twisty road and it rewards the enthusiastic driver with the sort of agility you don’t expect from a vehicle that’s as big and hefty as it is. The steering is direct with just enough weight through the wheel to keep you involved while its on-the-limit body control is only just pipped by the most sporting of SUVs, the Porsche Cayenne.
Because the Sport TDV6, as mentioned, misses out on torque vectoring and the active anti-roll bars, it has to be ‘driven’ rather than just blundered through corners waiting for the electronics to sort everything out. So, get too heavy with the throttle into a corner and the Sport will understeer, but a simple lift or slight brush of the brakes is enough to bring the nose back in.
Getting into the Range Rover is a little easier now than it ever used to be, indeed, its access height is now 10mm lower (down to 50mm) than the previous generation. Although, ahem, leave the Sport locked in off-road mode and you’ll need a step ladder to climb inside…
The Sport borrows more from the interior of the Range Rover Evoque than it does from the Range Rover proper and it now sets the benchmark for fit and finish and quality of materials used in this space. From behind the wheel the Sport gives the driver the sense of being sat down in the belly of the thing (just like Evoque) but you’re still able to see the end of the bonnet (making it a cinch to place off-road), indeed, vision all the way around is excellent thanks to the deep glass and big wing mirrors.
The dashboard is what you’d describe as minimalist with the sat-nav and multi-media system now controlled by touch pads rather than buttons on the previous-generation Sport. The system works, but the map really needs to be updated, indeed, there are much cheaper vehicles with better map rendering than the Sport.
There’s plenty of room in the front and back of the Sport, as usual, I fitted it with two childseats and found there was enough room for me to sit between them as comfortably as you can be when you’re wedged between two mini-people.
In terms of safety, the Range Rover Sport hasn’t yet been rated by ANCAP, but it features a variety of active and passive safety systems, including drive-away auto lock and crash unlock, front and side airbags including thorax and pelvis for driver and front passenger, rollover deployment of restraints, roll stability control, four-wheel drive, traction control, and more.