What is it?
The Range Rover stable needed a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine like Hannibal Lecter needed a bit more menace. But, with an increasing trend away from diesel and towards petrol, this 335bhp motor (which undercuts the equivalent V6 diesel by £4300) may not be as surplus to requirements as it initially seems.
It’s going into both the full-fat Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport that we're testing here, the latter available only in mid-spec HSE Dynamic trim.
Other updates for the 2017 model year include the addition of the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, which is now in every Range Rover Sport model. This brings a bigger, 10.0in colour touchscreen and various clever nav functions, including a ‘commute mode’ that learns your regular routes to work and advises which is best based on live traffic updates.
What's it like?
Potter about and the supercharged V6 delivers an appreciably quiet, smooth well of performance. The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox blurs shifts as well as ever, and normally at the right moment, but it can be a touch hesitant to respond if you ask for a sudden burst of acceleration.
And you may well want to do that regularly. This is a fast car and there are kicks to be had in enjoying the long, predictable yet progressively more frantic build-up of speed. The sheer incongruousness of having this hefty car sprint along with such willingness still impresses, although you have to rev the V6 pretty hard to get the best from it. This character doesn't suit the Range Rover as well as the torque-heavy, muscular mid-range of the diesels and the dramatically potent V8 petrol engines do.
On top of that, it doesn't really deliver the thrilling exhaust note that you might hope for. There’s certainly none of the dramatic, characterful bellow that this V6 belts out in the Jaguar F-Type. Instead, there’s a rather harsh, slightly flat soundtrack that resonates through the cabin in a way that seems somehow at odds with the otherwise gentrified-feeling Range Rover.
Otherwise, the Range Rover Sport’s ride and handling balance remains a thing of wonder, and the interior is, as ever, a top-notch example of practical luxury. That new infotainment system really ups the ante, too. It’s an easier system to use – still a touch late to respond to a prod of the finger occasionally – but otherwise a really well-equipped system with crisp, modern-looking graphics and quite logical menus.
Ultimately it’ll be much better to use day to day than the previous system and has all the features you'll need and more, although the head-up display costs an extra £1055, the rear entertainment screens £1555 and the upgraded Meridien sound system £1035.
Should I buy one?
We love the Range Rover Sport. It’s a familiar beast and yet it’s one that never fails to impress anew with its sheer breadth of ability every time we prop an elbow on the door sill.
But this is not the one to go for. Yes, it’s cheaper than the V6 diesel – which is still expected to account for the bulk of sales – and it is also quieter unless you stray into the higher reaches of the rev range. But the oil-burner’s hearty torque delivery is somehow just as satisfying and actually better suits the Range Rover Sport in the everyday mix of driving.
Even if it had a bit more character to it, this V6 would still be hard to justify, given that the diesel will also be more economical and will hold its value better. Without that added sparkle and the critical ‘want one’ factor that manages to seep out of every stitch and bolt in other Range Rover Sport models, including the worthy SDV6, this version feels like a niche choice in the range.
Range Rover Sport 3.0L V6 Supercharged HSE Dynamic
Location: Warwickshire, UK; On sale: Now; Price £64,400; Engine V6, 2995cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 335bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 3500-5000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2147kg; Top speed 130mph; 0 60mph 6.9sec; Economy 26.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 243g/km, 37%; Rivals Audi SQ7, Porsche Cayenne