● Engine: 2993 SDV6 turbodiesel
● Power/torque: 306bhp/516lb ft
● Transmission: Eight-speed auto
● Width (inc wing mirrors): 2220mm
● Wheelbase: 2923mm (115in)
● Wading depth: 850mm
● Ramp breakover: 152.8°
● Speed: 130mph/0-60mph: 6.8sec
● Factory combined mpg: 40.4
● LRO RWT mpg: 30.3
● Price as tested: £78,650
STEALTH BOMBER VS YORKSHIRE...
The big seller of the Range Rover Sport line-up, the three-litre SDV6 has received a raft of engine tweaks for the 2015 model year - enough to question whether you need to shell out up to £22,500 more on an SDV8 or Hybrid.
The new SDV6's numbers are impressive: an extra 14bhp and 73lb ft over the old one, meaning it matches teh Hybrid for torque and is only 10 per cent shy of both models' 335bhp max power figure. Co2 emissions are 14g lower than before, at 185g/kn, and there's a claimed 2.7mpg fuel economy improvement to more than 40mpg too - we'll see how close we get to that ove rthe next 380 miles...
Fuel for thought
Judging by the 40.2mpg reading indicated on the dash display at the end of the initial A1 cruise, our RWT figure won't stay close to Land Rover's claim for long, that's for sure: it's fractionally beter than its stablemates, but proves that for fast but minimal throttle mileage there's very little to separate any of the engine options (bar the Supercharged petrols). The accessory roof bars fitted may have dragged that figure down a little though.
When you get the chance to let the twin-turbo SDV6 loose, it emits a slightly deepened growl and now really comes alive from 3000rpm, with a solid punch of power right through to the 4000rpm peak - with a solid red icon glowing back at you from the optional head-up display (a £1000 extra).
In short shift
There's so much torque on tap that it's tempting to short-shift, or try to - the eight-speed ZF auto, with manual override by steering wheel-mounted paddles or by pushing/pulling the transmission selector, won't give you free rein. Sometimes you have to wait until the road speed is high enough before it'll let you shift up, especially at low revs.
That's a wise safety feature on downshifts, so you minimise the risk of overrevving the engine, but can get frsutrating when going up through the gears - it also means you can't minimise engine revs as much as you'd like, when passing horses, or walkers on greenlanes.
For all the grunt on tap, though, there's noticeably less in reserve when compared to the 4.4 SDV8. It's hardly wheezing up steep hills, but just doesn't have the same stump-pulling feel, and never feels as though it's going to thrill you in quite the same way. It's refined, relaxed and easy-going, not a party animal.
The same goes for the brakes. They're more than up to the task of scrubbing off sped when required, but lack the immediacy and ultimate bite of the Brmebo units fitted to the Autobiography Dynamic-spec SDV6, SDV8, Hybrid and Supercharged. And when you really anchor on, there's little left to call on.
Agility-wise, this Dynamic Response-equipped SDV6 stays true to the Sport's mesmerising mix of comfort, composure and commitment: it's a lot of fun to hustle along B-roads, soaks up the bumps on glorified farm tracks, and grips long after your bravery has left. But I still think the SDV8 feels more planted and confidence inspiring, thanks to its re-geared steering and extra mass in the nose.
It's also a laugh to take on our test route's geenlanes, if only to see the disbelief on other users' faces. Something this 'street' doesn't look like it belongs here.
All-round good egg
The 30.3mpg RWT result is way off Land Rover's 40mpg claim for the SDV6, but is within striking distance of the Hybrid and the discontinued (and, lower spec) TDV6. It's clear why it's such a hit - there's little else you really need from a daily driver.
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