Range Rover Sport V6SC HST road test and review
"WHY would you need a car motif puddle light?"
The question from my common sense-wielding mate was fair. Yet my response was blunt: "Because you can."
That's the very reason why vehicles such as the Range Rover Sport exist.
The automotive world has morphed into a marshmallow land where these once high-riding titans of the bush never sully their tread. Possessing technology such as torque vectoring, anti-roll systems and an ability to trounce sports cars has become the norm for the modern sports utility vehicle.
Land Rover is built on a foundation of off-road prowess, and the marque was positioned perfectly to make the most of this four-wheel fashion which shows no sign of abating.
This HST is sandwiched between the base petrol V6 ($128,900) and the V8 ($168,600). More gala-going than mud-plugging, it's an arresting accessory for the fashion-focused.
The experience settling yourself in behind the wheel says it all. Electric adjustment in wide-ranging directions and a soft head-rest which moulds around your skull fulfil luxurious expectations. Oh and the steering column also has power adjustment.
Heck, it's good enough even for the Royal Family.
Plush leather adorns the seats and it's also spread across the cabin. While some of the leather is man-made, everything looks and feels expensive.
There are sprinklings of aluminium throughout the cabin, special HST branded mats and "noble plated" steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Impressive levels of technology are featured in the Rangie Sport, although nothing too baffling. The colour touch-screen is simple to navigate with shortcut buttons on either side of the screen.
There was a slight delay in our test machine from when you hit the button to action - nothing lengthy, but it just wasn't instantaneous.
Within the driver's binnacle is a brilliant 31cm digital instrument panel which delivers all the traditional information with crisp accuracy.
On the road
For your investment over the base petrol V6 you get an extra 30 kilowatts. That amounts to a 0.1 second saving over the sprint from standstill to 100kmh. So, not a lot there, but beefed up brakes and chassis settings have been designed to offer a more focused driving experience for sharper responses.
Key to these changes, compared to your standard Sport, is the Terrain Response Dynamic system. It has some off-road settings but the HST is available with a single transfer box, so it's proof this derivative is honed for bitumen activities.
Press the circular button on the console and a cylindrical dial rises from where you can select from a range of terrains. That is where you find Dynamic which makes the
digital driver display features turn red, sharpens the throttle, stiffens the air suspension and shortens the gear shifts.
The Sport doesn't shed its ride height in the process, so it can still dip and dive under duress, but maintains its composure beautifully in the bends.
Ride quality remains exemplary and the HST does an outstanding job within its desired environment.
What do you get?
Basic kit incorporates cruise control, two-zone climate controlled air con, rear view camera, lane departure warning, push button start, 20.3cm colour touch-screen, head-up display that projects your speed onto the windscreen, full bluetooth connectivity, eight-speaker audio system and sat-nav.
There are a plethora of options which can see the bottom line skyrocket, like a 23-speaker Meridian stereo system for $13,600, rear seat screens with DVD player for $5000, seats with massage function for $2720 or a panoramic sunroof for $3400.
We'd also consider the BMW X5 xDrive 35i ($109,900), Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 Coupe ($141,900), the Audi Q7 ($103,900) and the Porsche Cayenne S ($141,200).
Greenies won't be hugging you in the street in terms of C02 emissions and fuel consumption, and we found it averaged close to 12 litres for every 100km. There is a 105-litre tank to avoid regular servo visits, while replacing the 21-inch Continental rubber could also make you wince.
Four adults sit in the lap of luxury - you can fit five but the short straw goes to those perched central on the rear pew.
There is an option to extend the capacity to seven seats, but the extra two fold-away chairs will cost an additional $3700.
Dual cup holders are available up front and in the fold-down arm rest in the back.
The boot will comfortably hold a few suitcases, and the back seats fold 60-40 to cater for various cargo.
Cut of fine cloth, the Rangie Sport reeks of presence and quality.
The HST comes with a range of gear from the "stealth" pack, with special head and tail lights, a contrasting black roof along with black vents, grille, bezels and badging. On the bonnet and front wing vents, grille and fog lamp bezels is a black finish.
You also get sculpted body-coloured lower door panels and additional vent detailing on the bumpers are also fitted.
When it comes to colour, anything other than white will cost you $2100, while the truly fancy metallics are $4200.
Distinctive lines speak volumes, as does the badge. The HST may not be a true off-roader, but it answers the luxurious chariot question being asked by those shopping in the plush SUV aisle. Boasting a nice exhaust sound track under power, good looks and dripping with luxury, it's a winner on the SUV catwalk.
Model: Range Rover Sport V6SC HST.
Details: Five-seat four-wheel drive large luxury sports utility vehicle.
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 generating maximum power of 280kW @ 6500 and peak torque of 450Nm @ 3500-5000rpm.
Transmission: Eights-speed automatic.
Consumption: 10.8 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance 0-100kmh: 7.1 seconds. Top speed 210kmh.
Towing: 3500km, tow ball 350kg.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $148,800.
What matters most
What we liked: Smooth and quiet operation, punch and soundtrack from the supercharged six.
What we'd like to see: Buttons or levers to fold the rear seats from the boot, less pricey options.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the same period. Servicing schedule is annual or every 26,000km.
Driving experience 17/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 16/20
Value for money 16/20
Style and design 18/20