From £48,925
The tweaked 2012 model-year Range Rover Sport is more powerful, more economical and a glorious way to cover long distances effortlessly

Our Verdict

Range Rover Sport 2005-2013

Charming and likeable luxury SUV offers polished Land Rover handling for a price

  • First Drive

    Range Rover Sport 3.0 SDV6 HSE

    The tweaked 2012 model-year Range Rover Sport is more powerful, more economical and a glorious way to cover long distances effortlessly
  • First Drive

    Land Rover Range_e

    The addition of electric drive appears to remove nothing from the Land Rover experience
1 November 2011

What is it?

This is the 2012 model-year Range Rover Sport. It’s more powerful, more economical, has more forward ratios, an upgraded infotainment system and a new, powered, lightweight aluminium tailgate.

The newly-tweaked 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel comes in two new versions, both of which meet the new EU5 pollution regulations. The less powerful unit (badged TDV6) gets the same 208bhp, but sees Co2 emissions drop to from 243 to 224g/km, neatly slotting it down to tax band K. The more powerful version (SDV6) gets an extra 11bhp and emissions also drop from 243g/km to 230g/km (so it stays in band L).

Using parallel turbochargers, Land Rover says that while the engine provides the full 433lb ft of torque from 2000rpm, a significant 83 per cent of maximum twist only 500milliseconds after it leaves its (newly low, 710rpm) idling speed.

Much of the improvement to the fuel economy must be thanks to the installation of a new eight-speed ZF autobox, which offers a wider spread of ratios with a higher top gear. The torque convertor also locks-up into direct-drive mode more quickly than the old 6-speed ‘box did. It’s claimed the ZF can shift ratios in 200 milliseconds and can monitor the driver’s actions, holding gears when driving around a series of curves and monitors the rate of de-acceleration and brake use to select the right gear for entry and exit into corners.

This intelligent box can also temporarily use a lower ratio to run the engine faster, both to warm the engine more quickly and power-up the air-conditioning to cool a hot cabin. Sadly, the conventional shift lever has been replaced by the rotary dial, though the steering wheel now has paddle shifters. The rotary terrain response selector has replaced by rocker switch. The other big change to the Sport is the adoption of an aluminium, powered, tailgate prompted by complaints from owners about the difficulty of reaching and shutting the original tailgate.

Inside, the standard audio system has been significantly upgraded with a 11-speaker, 380W, Harmon Kardon audio and a dual-view central screen which can show two different screen images at once.

What's it like?

Impressive. Admittedly we tried the Range Rover Sport in near-ideal conditions: the magnificent (and magnificently empty) roads in the Borders and around the Cheviots, but the Sport is a compelling way to travel. The imperiousness of the driving position, the superb forward visibility and very brisk performance is a seductive mix.

The engine is very refined and seamlessly torquey, the ‘box swift and unobtrusive (although on this low mileage example, it would occasionally hang on to too high a gear at very low speeds and was keen to shift into top at higher speeds) and the whole car stable and confidence-inspiring at speed.

The driving position and more cockpit-like interior of the Sport is, arguably, more satisfying than the more limo-esque cabin layout of its bigger brother. The odd thing about driving a Range Rover is that the car tends to fall away from the driver’s attention, with most thought going into either enjoying the ride, the view or revelling in the car’s ability to stride past slower-moving vehicles.

Indeed, the trademark express-train Range Rover overtaking manoeuvre has to be one of today’s definitive driver experiences. On challenging country lanes, the Sport is surprisingly capable, and the ride only rarely betraying a slightly knobbliness and the steering’s (mechanically, a different set-up to the related Discovery) accuracy and weighting pretty impressive for a vehicle of this type.

The brakes are also up to the job, and inspire more under-foot confidence that the set-up on the Range Rover itself manages. You can’t fling this high-roof, 2.6 tonne, machine around tight B-road bends, but the combination of being able to see so far ahead and the mighty engine, means thoughtful driving allows serious progress to be made.

Should I buy one?

If you can afford it, the Sport is a glorious way to cover long distances effortlessly and rapidly and it works as a luxury car better than nearly any conventional saloon. The extraordinary off-road ability is probably wasted on a car that will spend most of time with two wheels on the kerb stones of affluent city streets, but once you’ve experienced the Sport up to its bonnet in fast flowing water or crawling down a steeper-than-45 degree slope, you can’t help admiring it even more.

Range Rover Sport HSE 3.0 SDV6

Price: £55,995; Top speed: 124mph; 0-62mph: 8.5sec; Economy: 32.1mpg combined; Co2: 230g/km; Kerbweight: 2670kg; Engine: V6, 2992cc turbodiesel; Power: 252bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 433lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 8-speed auto

Join the debate

Comments
41

2 November 2011

Not quite sure if you could call the economy impovements excellent, but things have certainly come a long way in a few short years.

I would have one, if I could afford the ongoing servicing costs, which I don't suppose will have changed at all!!

To live is to drive

2 November 2011

[quote bentleyboy]I would have one, if I could afford the ongoing servicing costs, which I don't suppose will have changed at all!![/quote]

with a name like Bentleyboy i'm sure the Range Rovers servicing costs would be more affordable than a Bentleys.

2 November 2011

This is a very compelling car. One which I feel I shouldn't like I do..and very much so, especially since they upgraded the interior a couple of years ago.

I can't help but think though that this car would be even more compelling with the TDV8 engine under the bonnet

2 November 2011

A 4x4 with a lot of timeless appeal, but, as usual with Autocar's review of JLR products, I didn't notice a single criticism/mention of any weakness. So, I take it the car must be perfect.

2 November 2011

I would prefer one with the TDV8, but this certainly is a huge improvement for the TDV6. Bear in mind that the old one did 25mpg combined and took almost 13 seconds to hit 60mph, and then you can see that the technology in this car is significant.

If I could afford the running costs of a diesel Range Rover, then I would bit the bullet and get one with the supercharged Jaguar V8 instead. I drove a 2005 Range Rover Sport with the old supercharged 4.2 Jaguar V8; 400bhp I believe it was. It shifted nicely for a car of its size, and the noise was incredible.

That said, if I could afford a Range Rover, I probably wouldn't buy one anymore. They have got too expensive and 'bling'. I'd probably settle for a Grand Cherokee SRT-8; now that's an insane car! If I desparately wanted a Landie, then I would go for a Discovery, which is also becoming very expensive now.

2 November 2011

+1 Overdrive

I have driven verious RR Sports and have been underwhelmed by all of them, granted i havent driven the 2012 model however it cant be so much better that the normally tiny items picked up by AC in just about every non JLR review seem to be missing. Also the emmissions are shocking when compared to some rivals of a similar size (that are considerably faster)

DKW

2 November 2011

[quote Overdrive] as usual with Autocar's review of JLR products, I didn't notice a single criticism/mention of any weakness. So, I take it the car must be perfect.[/quote] It's not just Autocar. The great majority of British reviews of Range Rovers fail to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is their continued bottom of the table customer satisfaction/reliability ratings. How can you continue to say that a car is a good one when people who have actually run one long enough to know say the opposite? Bizarrely, unlike Range Rover, LR Freelander is now one of the most reliable 4x4s you can get, so they could sort these things out if they wanted too. However, judging by how many more LRs I see locally compared to Lexus cars (literally 10 to 1 in rural Yorkshire), people overwhelmingly buy character over reliability in this segment, so why should LR bother.

2 November 2011

I[quote VX220EDDIE]name like Bentleyboy i'm sure the Range Rovers servicing costs would be more affordable than a Bentleys[/quote]

Hmm, but the Bentley is for occasional low mileage use, so costs very little in real terms - the Rangie would be a daily driver, so a couple of services a year! Oh well, never mind, love my alfa spider daily runner anyway!

To live is to drive

2 November 2011

[quote DKW]The great majority of British reviews of Range Rovers fail to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is[/quote]

the sort of complete (insert plural slang for female private parts here) who drive them and will make you look like one if you drive it?

HQ

2 November 2011

This review would have been so much more helpful had it made references to competitors like X5, face-lifted Cayenne and so forth. Surely those cars offer a commanding driver position and 'overtaking ability' also. I for one would have been interested in how AC would compare this RR Sport versus Q7, X5 and Cayenne. Personally I think Range Rovers' recent updates have been impressive and offer a better overall package then German SUV peers. It can only get better with new, lighter Rangies coming over the next few years.

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