► Updated Range Rover Sport driven
► Fresh JLR 6-cyl engines tested
► Mild-hybrid diesel costs from £68k
Interest in diesels has waned dramatically in recent months, enouranging certain car brands to promote their new-era petrols ahead of their oil burning alternatives. Land Rover was one such marque, introducing its all-new V6 replacing petrol straight-six in the Range Rover Sport a whole year before the diesel version of the Ingenium became available in summer 2020.
This is our first chance to drive both of them. Keep reading for our Range Rover Sport HST review.
What’s so special about the new petrol straight-six?
Well it’s not the first time a Land Rover product has been powered by six cylinders in a line, with the brand leaning on the likes of BMW and Ford in the deceased Defender and Freelander 2 respectively. In fact, the all-new Defender is also a recipient of the new six-pot engine family.
This new Ingenium engine, badged P400 (petrol with 400 metric horsepower) might be less compact than the V6 engine it replaces, but the use of aluminium makes it lighter and there are fewer parts (like a single cylinder head instead of the two on a V6).
Along with a single twin-scroll turbo, it also uses an electric supercharger similar to the high performance diesel engines from Audi, which is designed to fill in any power blanks from turbolag. Mild hybrid tech for smoother start/stop abilities also features, allowing this fresh engine to have a slightly better CO2 figure than the P300 four-cylinder petrol.
What’s with the HST lettering?
Think of it as a ‘hurrah! A new engine!’ specification rather than anything more serious. You’re not limited to it if you’re after this new straight-six; a fairly well-equipped HSE model starts from around £10k less than the £81,820 asking price of an P400 HST.
Still, if you’re interested, HST models have 16-way powered front seats, carbonfibre exterior pack, 21-inch alloys, Meridian’s surround sound system and Land Rover’s Park and Drive Packs (for bonus parking and driver assistance aids) as standard. Oh, and plenty of HST badges scatter-gunned inside and out.
So? How is it to drive?
It’s a little odd at first when your Range Rover starts up sounding like a Supra, but that initial bark fades quickly. The new engine is incredibly quiet in town, coupled with an updated version of JLR’s eight-speed auto slurring the ratios. The start/stop system is impressively inoffensive, too – restarting the engine is almost imperceptible.
Poke it a bit and there’s a tremendously large torque curve to ride, which is useful for launching up slip roads and low-effort overtaking manoeuvres.
Poke it a little more and the engine itself revs freely as it winds up to the redline. A bit like the B58 engine used in the BMW Z4 and Supra, there’s a slightly breathy top end as the mid-range punch tapers off, but this ain’t exactly slow. And it makes a properly sporty noise to accompany the performance. Still, it feels better to treat this like any Range Rover should be treated: as a low-effort waftmobile, rather than a sub-species of the mentalist SVR.
It’s all kind of standard Range Rover Sport fare, really. Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, digital dials, thin-rimmed steering wheel with very cool gloss black switchgear, seats with more padding than one of those amusement park soft toys and a general sense of imperiousness to driving one. We’d be doing you, the reader, a disservice if we didn’t mention the fact that the navigation froze during our test drive, and we’d like a wheel a size smaller for ultimate comfort.
It’s still roomy in the back, the boot is competitive and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system means this eighty-grand posemobile can still manage some more difficult terrain than King’s Parade in Cambridge. What’s not to like?
What about the diesels - is the comeback on?
You know what, for big, bruising SUVs like the Range Rover Sport, diesel will be your wallet's best friend for a while yet. Sure, the plug-in hybrid P400e costs a pittance to run if you only drive it within its modest electric range, but for those who frequently endeavour on longer journeys, this six-pot diesel offers plenty of real-world economy.
So far we've only driven he D350 with 345bhp and 516lb ft of torque which is exclusively available in the HST trim described above, but the whole gambit of other RRS trims are also available with a D300 serving up 296bp and 479lb ft.
These units replace both the 3.0-litre SDV6 and the rorty 4.4-litre SDV8 rather than joining them in the range.
Hang on - the V8's gone?
Certainly has, and while we'll lament the passing of the V8's burbly soundtrack, the D350 offers very similar performance without the environmental CO2 sledgehammer billowing out of the tailpipes: 278g/km before, down to 252g/km. No escaping that's still a weighty figure compared with as little as 75g/km for a P400e.
Equally appealing is the D350's ability to easily averge north of 30mpg without trying too hard. Over a lengthy drive encompassing cross-country switchbacks and motorway slogging, the display indicated 33mpg. Drive it gently without melding the throttle pedal into those deep pile rugs as frequently and 35mpg doesn't seem within the realms of fantasy.
Needless to say it's not slow with the rather academic 0-62mph dash taking a claimed 6.9 seconds, some seven-tenths shy of the P400 above. Translated into real-world experiences, you're not going to want for accelerative urgency for overtaking and junction pull-aways, but while the supercharged SVR feels like a kick to the lumbar region from a shire horse, the D350's far less violent and arguably all the more appealing for it.
Is the diesel motor refined?
If you have experienced the four-pot Ingenium diesel, you'll know it's not the quietest of power units, but the additional balance provided by the extra cylinders has eased away much of the gruffness. Naturally, there's a mite of agricultural clatter when you press the starter button on a cold morning, but that soon ebbs away.
Around town its very hushed - anecdotally, on the test this author received a phone call where the person on the other end of the line assumed he wasn't yet driving, so quietly it span. It remains similarly subdued until the rev counter arcs into the second half of its sweep. It's never coarse or annoyingly encroaching, you're just more aware of it. Thankfully it does little to detract from the Sport's serene progress.
And what about electrification?
Aah! We got there in the end, didn't we? Yes, part of the diesel's frugality is due to JLR's 48-volt mild-hybrid technology being part of the package. Seamless is often a hackneyed phrase in journalism, but in this installation is justly used.
In fact, at slower speeds, such as approaching a red light or a stop sign, the only way you can tell there's been an electrical takeover is because of the rev counter's needle pinging immediately down to zero rpm.
Range Rover Sport six-cylinder Ingenium: verdict
The new straight-six engines in the Range Rover Sport are welcome powertrain replacements for their ousted counterparts, with the petrol proving impressively efficient around town, the diesel on longer slogs.
We’d argue a petrol Range Rover Sport still won’t exactly be a huge seller in the UK, but the updated engine certainly makes a torquey, fruity-sounding case for itself for those whom running costs aren't quite the consideration they are for the majority.
However, the D350 diesel is the motor that really impressed us and providing you can live with the HST trim's SVR-light looks, it's the pick of the range... At least until we've had the opportunity to aquaint ourselves with the D300.
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