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2009 Range Rover Sport Review & Road Test
Will it rove the ranges, or the racetrack?
- 2009 Range Rover Sport TDV8 - $118,900
- Active Rear Differential $1060
- Sunroof $3170
- Digital/Analogue TV $1590
- Premium ICE $2060
- Front PDC $900
- Active Cruise Control $5300
- Tow Pack $530
- Premium Leather $2640
- Cool Box $790
- Phone Intergration $2650
- Folding mirrors $900
- Metallic Paint $1800
Photography by Karl Peskett & David Preston
Effortless, the dictionary definition is "requiring or involving no effort; displaying no signs of effort; easy".
When you think of shifting two-and-a-half tonnes of weight from a standstill, effortless is not something that normally would come to mind. For example, imagine a pallet stacked with 60 bags of concrete. Now, attach some wheels to it, grab some ropes, and try and pull it.
Not a job for the weak, or underpowered, but that's exactly what Range Rover's 3.6-litre V8 does. It does it while accelerating from standstill to 100km/h in a smidge over nine seconds, too. It's a task that it will continually do, day in, day out, never, ever feeling flustered.
You've gotta admire that lazy, effortless push, but there's more to love about the engine. It has a deep, bass, V8 growl, that fills the cabin with a delicious rumble, but never gets too boomy. While it lets you know in no uncertain terms that it's there for a purpose, it can also be sedate when you back off and just cruise.
Stick the boot in though for an overtake, and the growl reappears, along with a relentless shove. There's the briefest of pauses when it changes gear, but then it's on again, building solid speed, taking kilometres in its stride. It's an enslaving experience.
While it's all well and good to have a rocketship under the bonnet, if it falls over when it nears the first bend, there's little point. Don't worry though, because Range Rover has got that one sorted.
The suspension work done to the Sport is truly awesome, with the massive weight transfer quickly absorbed by the air suspension and mighty stiff springs. For a big car, the chassis has brilliant balance, so much so, that on our last Full Throttle video, a Sport was chosen for the challenging job of keeping up with a pair of Aston Martins through windy mountain roads.
After that experience, any doubts as to how well a four-wheel-drive should handle were quickly dispelled. Directional changes were only felt by the luggage crashing about in the back, and the passenger searching the glovebox for a sick bag.
It's a svelte handler, but if we're honest, the steering could use more feel while working the wheel. You tend to rely on the seat of your pants, rather than info through the tiller, which is a tad disappointing with so much potential for velocity.
If you need to haul yourself up in a hurry, the Brembo brakes wash speed off in a most gratifying and eyeball dislodging way.
Still, it seems we're talking in terms of a low-slung coupe here. Except we're not, this is an off-road machine, and make no mistake, it's not a pretender. The heritage of the company means that four-wheel-drive DNA has been conferred onto the Sport, and while it seems low enough to be categorised as a soft-roader, there's little stopping the Rangie Sport when going bush.
We let the tyre pressures down to 16psi this time, fearing more reprimanding from an irate service manager. Even on 19-inch wheels, there was little risk of rolled tyres. The sidewalls showed little flex, so it was a little unnerving, wondering if we had gone low enough.
We needn't have been concerned - the Sport just took it all in its stride. Even when it seemed like it was going to bog down, a little more push on the throttle and that everlasting surge of torque spun the revs up again, and the car just churned through the sand, always moving forward. In fact, there was nowhere it wouldn't go.
The special program select still didn't work quite well enough when pushing through the talc-like sand, as it would protest against any drifting sideways and clamp down. All that did was serve to slow you down, and hinder your progression uphill. On the flat beach areas it worked fine, but as soon as you wanted to climb, it was best to switch the programs off, along with the DSC.
However the Hill Descent feature worked a treat, even when on the steepest of slopes. Braking was carefully modulated by the ECU, all you have to do is steer. And yes, it works when in reverse, too.
Quite amazingly, too, we never had to resort to using low range, which can't be said for most diesel off-roaders. There was so much power on tap that gearing was never an issue.
Okay, so we've discovered it's blinding awesome on and off the road. Does that cover all bases? I mean, you'd also want it to transport you in style, comfort, etcetera, etcetera, especially when you're forking out over one-hundred large ones. Well, it does.
The cabin is set up more like a cockpit, with an angled centre stack, armrests on both chairs, clear instruments, beautiful metal finishes on the console sides, and a high driving position.
The front seats are soft and comfortable, yet bolstered enough to set them apart from the Discovery's pews. The option for finer leather certainly makes a difference to the feel, too.
Rear passengers will be fine with head and leg room, although they will sit more in a 'knees up' position than those in the front. The boot is also huge, but with the slanted rear glass, you won't be putting in whole armchairs like the Discovery would swallow. That said, our oversized perambulator fit with ample room for luggage and sundry items.
So I'm still trying to get my head around this thing now. It's brilliant on the road, it's fantastic off it, it's roomy, practical, well built, sounds awesome, goes well, and it's full of luxury, too. Surely there has to be something not to like.
I've found it: I can't afford one on a journo's wage.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
- Engine: 3.6-litre V8 diesel
- Power: 200kW@4000rpm
- Torque: 640Nm@2000rpm
- Induction: Twin turbocharged
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Differential/Driven Wheels: Elec Centre & Rear/All
- Brakes: Ventilated Discs front and rear, Brembo calipers
- Top Speed: 209km/h
- 0-100km/h: 9.2 seconds
- 0-400m: Not tested
- CO2 Emissions: 294g/km
- Fuel Consumption: 11.1-litres/100km
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 84-litres
- Fuel Type: Diesel
- ANCAP Rating: N/A
- Airbags: Six
- Safety: ABS, EBD, DSC, TC
- Spare Wheel: Full size
- Tow Capacity: 750kg/3500kg (braked/unbraked)
- Turning Circle: 11.6m
- Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
- Weight: 2675kg
- Wheels: 19-inch alloy