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Land Rover Range Rover Sport

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Land Rover Range Rover Sport Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE

Driven January 2007

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For reasons of taste and decency, one of car journalism's favourite clichés found itself banished a couple of years back. I quote, and purely for the purposes of reference: 'This car produces a tsunami of torque.'

There's now a risk that those words could rear their ugly head again thanks to the appearance of the Range Rover Sport TDV8, but not in these pages. Oh no. All I'd best mention is that this vehicle does produce a vast quantity of torque. Immense. Ginormous, even.

The exact same 3.6-litre TDV8 engine as recently added to the regular Range Rover has now found itself slotted in here. This is a sophisticated diesel-fuelled lump, with twin variable-geometry turbochargers (one for each bank of cylinders) and a pair of intercoolers.

Following the briefest of pauses as the turbos spool up and the standard six-speed auto 'box kicks down, a huge (apologies) wave of surge is unleashed. A total of 472lb ft is on offer here, 147lb ft more than in the lowlier TDV6 and 66lb ft more than can be claimed by that former alpha male SUV of choice, the supercharged petrol V8 Range Rover Sport.

The peak of all that torque hits home at just 2,000rpm, enough to overcome even the bulk that the TDV8 carries around with it (you crush the scales at close to three tonnes with company on board).

Zero to 60mph passes in an indecent 8.6secs and in-gear responsiveness is so great that certain increments are dealt with faster than in the less torquey, but ultimately more powerful, supercharged RRS.

Many of the differences between the two are difficult to sense. Only the slightest vibration can be felt through the TDV8's throttle pedal, noise is well suppressed and revs can be allowed to pile happily on without a steep cut off in the engine's hunger to pull; unusually for a diesel.

The aggressive, taut exterior has the same titanium-finished mesh stretched across its nose, while the similarities continue underneath.

Thankfully, outsized Brembo brakes can still be found at each corner, and the double wishbone, air-sprung suspension here too features a Dynamic Response system to stiffen up the anti-roll bars in readiness for a bend, not once you're halfway through. Unfortunately the same fidgety low-speed ride quality also remains.

The big distinction arrives in the form of fuel economy. The TDV8 offers an average of around 25mpg, where the supercharged V8 on our Lifers fleet has struggled to return 15mpg. Even if that truth doesn't hit an owner's conscience, they'll witness the difference in their bank balance.

Peter Grunert

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