● Engine: 4367cc SDV8 turbodiesel
● Power/torque: 335bhp/546lb ft
● Transmission: Eight-speed auto
● Width (inc wing mirrors): 2220mm
● Wheelbase: 2923mm (115in)
● Wading depth: 850mm
● Ramp breakover: 152.8°
● Speed: 140mph/0-60mph: 6.5sec
● Factory combined mpg: 32.5 (2016MY, 33.6)
● LRO RWT mpg: 27.4
● Price as tested: £97,600
380 MILES TO GET THE FULL LOWDOWN...
Choices, choices… Do you hang the fuel bills and go for the meteoric supercharged 510bhp V8 petrol? Pretend to care about the environment and opt for the diesel/electric SDV6 Hybrid? Or, settle on the stump-pulling 4.4 SDV8 diesel? If you’re spending £84,350 on a new Range Rover Sport, they’re your three options. It’s a first-world problem…
The Supercharged seems to get the vote of almost everyone I speak to, but I’ve long had a soft spot for the SDV8. It’s comfortably the most torquey Sport of all and in a tug of war even the SVR shouldn’t get close. But, since I first drove one in Germany’s Black Forest two years ago (Jan 2014 issue) it’s been given an extra 30lb ft, with more of it between 1700 and 2300rpm, and improved top-end acceleration.
Having taken the Hybrid round our test route (April 2015) and almost matched the TDV6’s fuel economy, I was keen to discover how the SDV8 compares. They’re meant to give near-identical performance, but the SDV8 boasts a twin-channel active roll and yaw control system that’s not available on the Hybrid. Does it really make as much of a difference as I remember?
The air-sprung Sport makes light of the run up the A1. With an extendable seat base and inflatable bolsters, it’s impossible not to find a supportive position, although it gets a bit snug with the armrest down. And, the best position for me always sees the bottom of the instruments obscured by their surround.
I almost miss spotting a surprise – the SDV8 is fractionally more economical on the run up the A1 than the Hybrid! 39.8mpg indicated versus 39mpg. Crawling through towns like Knaresborough, the lack of stop-start seems a novelty nowadays, but it’s an option on 2016 MY SDV8s, which helps up the claimed economy to 33.6mpg.
At more than 2.2m wide it’s a big beast, but that width is no problem once the roads open up.
The climb out of Pateley Bridge starts in a 30mph limit, which the SDV8 happily pulls in fourth gear (my D3 struggles in second), and there’s no hesitation in getting up to the 60mph limit, and staying there, for the second part.
In Sport mode, and Dynamic on Terrain Response, it’s eerily easy to drive very quickly, cornering flat and gripping hard, with a subtle helping hand from the torque vectoring by braking system felt when you’re really attacking bends. It never feels quite as pitchy as the Hybrid under braking. And, at full chat the SDV8 makes a lovely rasp too.
On the bumps out of Kettlewell, which upset so many models, the Sport rides the crests and soaks up the compressions with ease. The hydraulic bump stops get a workout, but I only get mildly airborne once… It’s more confidence-inspiring and more controlled than the Hybrid.
The greenlane interlude is a complete change of pace. The supple suspension, low-range transmission and torquey motor work brilliantly together, but the 275/45 R21 tyres don’t offer any protection to the satin black alloys. It’s not until I wash the mud off that I spot a scrape on the edge of the left-front. Where did that happen? Somewhere along the Cam High Road probably, but it could just as easily have been done parking. Needless, either way. Bring back proper bulging sidewalls, please.
Considering the amount of time in Sport mode, the 27.4mpg result (31mpg indicated) isn’t bad at all – it’s only 10 per cent worse than the Hybrid and was much more fun. What would a Supercharged do? 18-20, I’d expect. After this test I took the Sport to Somerset and averaged a genuine 30mpg over 500 miles...
The SDV8 still gets my vote.
SDV8: the end of an era?
Let’s face it, the days of big V8 diesels like this are surely numbered. They don’t fit into the vision of a caring, sharing, eco-neutral world anymore – or the ideal imposed on us, anyway. Leaner, lighter, more efficient Ingenium engines are on their way, with at least a couple of cylinders lopped off – we wouldn’t rule out twin-turbo fours powering vehicles like this soon.
Even now, SDV6 Sports are just as luxurious, easily as good off-road, and almost as quick on-road as the SDV8, but prices start almost £22,500 lower. That’d buy a nearly-new TDCi Defender!
The Ford Lion-based motor will have powered Range Rovers for a decade next year, originally as a 271bhp/472lb ft 3.6 in the L322 and the L320 Sport. In that time it’s gained 737cc, 64bhp, 74lb ft, and seen 0-60mph times slashed by 2.3sec, yet real-world fuel economy has improved by 16 per cent. That’s impressive.
For as long as there’s diesel, I’ll give space to a 4.4 SDV8 Sport in my dream garage.
What's the point?
LRO’s Real World Test gives an independent, ‘real world’ fuel economy figure based on a varied and enjoyable 380-mile route, rather than sitting on a dyno.
It’s a big drive to do in one day, so we get up early and start by brimming the fuel tank at a garage on the A1 in Lincolnshire.
By doing the same at the end, it’s easy to get a precise ‘combined mpg’ figure – meaning a blend of motorways, fast A-roads, country roads, a couple of long greenlanes and a rush-hour city crawl. And, we find out more along the way!
Our test route
Bloody Oaks services, Stamford > A1 north Knaresborough > Arncliffe > Kettlewell > Middleham > Bainbridge > Stalling Busk (byway) > Hubberholme > Cam High Road (byway) > Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes > Settle > Silsden > Bradford > M62 east > Ferrybridge > A1 south > Bloody Oaks services, Stamford
Do you fancy driving our RWT route? Download a map here.
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