In Autobiography spec, stellar. If the ’charger is the cherry on top of Land Rover’s new cake - glossy, super-sweet, slightly superfluous - the V6 is the icing, sponge and cream actually intended to sate the craving. There will be a TDV8 above it by next year, but it’s hard to see where the capability gaps are for it to plug, so congenial, lean and seemly is the performance meted out here.
There’s a tendency in the petrol V8 model to value only one facet of the new Sport - it’s ability to carry and accommodate huge and unlikely speed. Everything else fades into the background of its combustible snarl and that colossal lick. In the diesel, the car feels more three dimensional; better capable of muffling tedious miles and making quiet, expedient progress around town.
Which isn’t to say that the SDV6 is slow: 0-60mph is accomplished in 6.8 seconds - plenty fast enough for a two-tonne car with two full metres of girth - and there’s a fat, 442lb ft seam of torque to endlessly exploit. But it doesn’t careen out of the gate like the V8 so there’s less temptation to bully it all the time; instead what you get is a swift, seamless pull away under a half throttle - precisely the amount of acceleration most of us use in the course of an average day.
It follows this up with impeccable manners. Obviously the petrol-engined car (and its exhaust) is tuned to remind you what you’ve forked out for, and the diesel is deliberately more inconspicuous, although so crafty is JLR’s tweaking that it’s possible to draw almost as much satisfaction from its insulated hum at cruise and the heavy throb that accompanies rising revs. As with most eight-speed gearboxes, the transmission is predisposed to downshifting at the slightest provocation, but the utterly superb ZF unit makes these blips almost unnoticeable.
The Sport will happily dispense bigger speeds in its default mode, but the Dynamic setting does the familiar business of altering the steering, gearbox, throttle and suspension settings. This inevitably makes the car’s already slightly more abrasive ride (compared to a Range Rover) that bit stiffer but it also allows its new dynamic character, warm and fluid before, to unmistakably set.
Aided by torque vectoring at the front and the (optional) rear diff, the Sport will now turn in on its standard mud and snow tyres with squealing conviction, and then shift merrily sideways for a moment as drive is biased towards the rear axle. In the V8 this occurs ridiculously early in the engine’s repertoire; in the V6, it feels encouragingly like you are testing and harnessing both in some kind of harmony.