► Updated Range Rover Sport driven
► Fresh JLR 6cyl engine tested
► New HST spec costs £81k
As interest in diesel wanes, certain car brands are making their petrol engine line-up as thrifty on fuel. So, for 2019, Land Rover introduced an all-new engine to its perennial Range Rover Sport – a straight-six – to replace its V6.
This is our first chance to drive it. Keep reading for our Range Rover Sport HST review.
What’s so special about this new 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 or Ford in the deceased Defender and Freelander respectively. In fact, the all-new Defender will be a recipient of this new six-cylinder engine when it's revealed later in 2019.
This new Ingenium engine (named 'P400') might be less compact than the V6 engine it replaces, but use of aluminium makes it lighter and there are fewer parts (like a single cylinder head instead of the two on a V6). It’ll slowly phase out the V6s currently in service.
Along with a single twin-scroll turbo, it also uses an electric supercharger similar to the latest 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 £81,250 asking price of an 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?
Range Rover Sport HST: verdict
The new straight-six engine in the Range Rover Sport is a welcome powertrain replacement, suiting those who live and work in the city best (and avoiding some rather punishing diesel taxes in the process).
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.
Check out our Range Rover reviews