2010 Range Rover Sport Road Test Review

Kez Casey | 5 Comments

THERE ONCE WAS a time when four wheel drives were honest, hard working, bare-bones, down-to-earth kinds of vehicles. If you wanted a premium off-road experience, you had one option: Range Rover.

The times however, they are a-changin’. The premium SUV category is now stuffed to the gills with lounge-room-luxury mobile powerhouses. And, as Lexus, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche and others have found, it's a profitable category.

They're all big, they're all loaded; all that varies is their mud-slinging prowess and luxury fit-out.

But there’s still the original contender. Though now in Indian ownership, Land Rover has maintained its typically British ‘stiff upper lip’. It also hasn't lost sight of its off-road origins: the Range Rover division has expanded to a two vehicle line-up offering the best of cosseting luxury and genuine 4x4 ability.

Late in 2009, the Range Rover Sport (as well as the larger Vogue and platform-sharing Land Rover Discovery) underwent a series of enhancements covering engines, appearance, interior and drivetrain technology.

TMR took the entry-level Range Rover Sport turbo diesel V6. We threw it at the jagged trails of the Victorian High Country as well as Melbourne’s leafy, cosseted suburban crawl to unearth what this leather-lined, mountain-ready contender was capable of.

Was the 2010 Sport up to these two disparate tasks? The comfort and ability on offer certainly did manage to show themselves in some surprising places.

Styling

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By now the Range Rover Sport is no stranger to Australian roads. The updated model maintains the familiar traditional Range Rover styling cues while adding a new technical edge.

There’s still a bluff, chunky look. The kind of style that is equally at home in the car park at the theatre as it is pounding rural back roads.

To achieve this, the Sport wears a solid but stylishly refined square-cornered body. Slab-styled bumpers and body sides mean business. The blacked out pillars, clamshell bonnet and floating roof speak of trademark Range Rover style.

As part of the styling revisions, the Range Rover Sport carries a ‘two-bar’ theme across its bodywork. This means the grille, headlights, tail-lights and front-guard vents all carry a horizontal twin-bar look.

Those lighting units are cleaner and fuss-free in style. LED lighting is featured in the park lamps and tail lamps: circular elements contained in square housings.

The slab-sided coachwork is relieved with a single, deep crease running from front to rear and with a softer line swelling between the blistered wheel arches, providing a visual break.

The lower bumper and door trims feature a matte finish, as do the mesh-filled two-bar side vents, door handles and front door mounted side indicators, adding styling depth to the Sport’s flanks.

The Interior

Some manufacturers seem to miss the point that the single place where the owner spends the most time is inside a car... not staring it its exterior. The previous Range Rover Sport missed this point - its sublime exterior was let down by less-than sublime interior style.

But not any more. The MY2010 upgrade brings with it a new interior, with an almost concept car-like design and a bevy of exquisite leather, wood and metal finishes.

There is gentleman’s club-like ambience inside: the leathers, trim and finishes exude the kind of exclusive luxury befitting the Range Rover Sport's premium positioning.

From the driver’s seat, the Range Rover Sport presents a large leather wrapped steering wheel, adjustable for tilt and reach. Trip computer, Bluetooth operation and audio controls are all situated on the wheel, which is finished with brushed metal accents.

Looking forward, a clear and legible twin-dial instrument cluster with a monochromatic five-inch TFT screen takes care of ancillary displays, warning messages and trip computer functions.

Across the top of the dash and also in the door trims sit stitched black leather facings. The lower trims and seats are available in matching black or a choice of optional hues.

The wood-bordered centre-stack angles away from the centre console and into the dash surface, layering itself behind the facia. There are chunky, rubberised circular controls for climate control and audio system functions, backed up with large, clearly labelled buttons for minor functions.

Door cards are dressed in a combination of leather, wood panelling and real metal highlights. Metal and leather grace the gear-shifter and metal surrounds the air-vents; the whole combination of premium materials is a tactile delight.

High-quality leather trim comes standard on the seating surfaces with a choice of five colours, two leather finishes and a selection of contrasting stitching options depending on specification level.

Despite feeling smaller inside than the exterior dimensions suggest, there’s no shortage of room to move inside, with plenty of head and elbowroom front and rear. The only dimension that feels a little short is legroom for rear-seat passengers, but only with front seats at their rear-most position.

Cargo space measures 958 litres and can be enhanced by folding the 60:40 split fold rear bench. A high loading lip, thanks to the tall off-road suspension and under-floor spare tyre, can make loading heavy items awkward.

Equipment and Features

The term ‘base model’ is one to apply very loosely to the Range Rover Sport TDV6. This is certainly no stripped out price-special flogging itself to fleets.

Listing from $99,900 (plus on-road charges), the Sport answers the premium call with bi-xenon headlamps and front fog lights, a soft-close tailgate, height-adjustable air-suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers.

There’s also a hard-disc navigation system integrated into the touch-screen Harman Kardon sound system, featuring eight speakers, a subwoofer and amplifier. MP3 playback and iPod connectivity also come standard.

Leather trim, heated, electric folding mirrors, rear park sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and keyless start also join the list.

Making up the Sport’s off-road package is a system dubbed ‘Terrain Response’. This system, which, at the twist of a dial, can select a range of programs for the suspension, traction, engine and transmission, allows the Sport to take on any surface from snow to sand to rocky trails and more.

The safety list also impresses with dual front and side airbags plus curtain bags, ABS brakes and dynamic stability control incorporating brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, hill start and descent control, trailer stability assist and enhanced understeer control.

Mechanical Package

With turbo diesel V6 and V8 engines, as well as petrol V8s in naturally aspirated and supercharged flavours, there’s an engine to suit just about any application in the Sport range.

After piloting the TDV6 in a variety of applications the need for the other engines almost becomes questionable. Strong acceleration, decent fuel economy and fantastic flexibility are all provided by the entry-level engine.

The 3.0 litre V6 takes the place of the previous 2.7 litre turbo diesel unit. With 180kW @ 4000 rpm and a stump-pulling 600Nm of torque on tap from just 2000 rpm, representing increases of 40kW and 140Nm over the smaller, single turbo engine.

That works out to plenty of shove to move the 2530 kilogram kerb weight of the Range Rover Sport. Twin sequential turbo chargers and direct injection ensure plenty of power and mountains of torque with the added bonus of being able to run smoothly to the 4000 rpm redline without running out of puff.

A factory fuel consumption claim of 9.2l/100 km is certainly nothing to scoff at for such a heavy vehicle either. On test we recorded a higher 10.4l/100 km but considering the amount of time spent off-road and doing stop-start runs it was hardly a disappointing result.

In support of the engine, the sole transmission available is a six speed CommandShift adaptive automatic with manual mode that can be optioned with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Thanks to the clever adaptive intelligence the manual mode is little more than a showpiece, with the transmission computer barely faltering in picking the correct gear ratio for conditions. Be it meandering around town or scrambling up a mountainside.

Permanent four-wheel-drive channels drive to the wheels, varying torque between the front and rear axles on demand.

Four-wheel air suspension offers self-levelling and three driver selectable settings for standard driving, easy loading or added ground clearance as required. The system can also soften or stiffen the air springs depending on road conditions, and the springs are cross-linked to allow greater wheel articulation for serious four-wheel driving.

Massive ventilated disc rotors front and rear provide huge reserves of stopping power. While the pedal itself is of the long-travel variety at allows for a good range of adjustability depending on the stopping conditions and the ABS calibration is one that works as effectively on gravel as it does on sealed surfaces.

The Drive

Land Rover boldly claims that the 2010 Range Rover Sport is its most performance-oriented offering yet.

As a two-and-a-half tonne vehicle with raised suspension, the performance intent of the V6 model is perhaps somewhat limited. Sure, the 375kW supercharged petrol V8 will likely tell a different story, but in TDV6 form its a harder claim to justify.

That’s not to say it isn’t well sorted in most areas - for indeed it is.

Engine performance is strong, with enough urge to propel the TDV6 from standstill to 100km/h in 9.3 seconds. Sure, it’s not record breaking, but it certainly isn’t hanging around either. It is also quiet and composed in nearly every driving situation.

Most importantly it means nimble runs around town, stress-free highway merging and overtaking, and plentiful ability should your chosen road turn into a goat track.

The six-speed CommandShift automatic transmission isn’t always as clever. While the transmission at no stage managed to catch itself in the wrong gear (with an almost telepathic ability to read driver demands and match road conditions), if carrying a leisurely pace through to half-throttle acceleration, the upshifts blundered slightly.

Demand a little more from the engine and the transmission responds more suitably, shuffling off silken shifts.

There are a few other things that expose some minor performance compromises. Pushing the Sport into a corner on tarmac shows that it falls a little short of the 'sport' promise.

The steering, while well-weighted, is vague. And while the low profile tyres do their best to offer cornering feedback, there’s just the slightest hint of delay between steering input and reaction from the front hoops.

Kickback and rack rattle are kept at bay, but true communication between the front contact patches and the driver is lacking. Body roll too, despite the best efforts of the air-suspension, mean that performance aspirations are best kept to a minimum.

That said, suspension comfort is exceptional. If your intention is to load up and hit the open road then the Range Rover Sport offers one of the most sublime ways to do so.

Wind and road noise are beautifully isolated and the opulent interior environment makes the Range Rover Sport a joy to spend time in.

Even along some of regional Victoria’s notoriously pock-marked regional highways and byways, the Sport treats all roads as of they were paved in pure velvet.

But generous space, cosseting comfort, a powerful but frugal engine and incredible cruising ability only tell part of the Sport’s story. There’s the little matter of off-road ability.

When you’re talking about a brand with over 60 years experience developing and building four-wheel-drives, it’s not hard to imagine what the Range Rover Sport might be capable of.

But, we have to admit to some nagging doubts before setting off. There was that ‘performance’ tag to worry about, coupled with the very on-road biased 255/50 R19 tyres. While the width can be useful, a lack of sidewall and tread depth is usually not at all helpful off-road.

Those fears proved unfounded, as Land Rover’s depth of experience in the off-road category shone through.

The whole procedure when faced with a challenging trail couldn’t be simpler: turn the Terrain Response dial to match the road surface, push a button to raise the suspension, another to engage low range and a third for the activation of Hill Descent Control.

From then on the driver need only worry about picking an appropriate line and controlling the throttle. The Terrain Response system then apportions drive to the wheels that need it, and locks and unlocks diffs as required while displaying wheel articulation and steering angle on the centre screen.

No doubt, our plan to push the Range Rover Sport along the loose gravel, deep wash-outs and rutted trails in the Victorian High Country - with the aim of reaching Craig’s Hut at the top of Mount Stirling - might have had some questioning the car’s suitability for this kind of terrain.

But there was no cause for concern. Steep inclines, loose stones, fire trails; nothing stood in the way of the Range Rover Sport.

Suspension travel was ample for the truly jagged terrain. And the Terrain Response Control’s gravel and rock-crawl settings provided faultless control of the transmission, Hill Descent, Hill Hold and other associated functions.

Better still, inside the cabin, occupants enjoyed the same noise isolation, seat and suspension comfort and Harman Kardon-driven audio entertainment, as they would pulling into their local arts centre carpark.

The Verdict

Simply put, if all you want to do is escape civilisation and vanish into the wilds of nature, there are cheaper and equally effective ways of doing so. And if you’re after supreme comfort and cosseting luxury, there are more focused options available.

But if you need to combine the two, there’s little on offer that covers all bases with such conviction. Instead of choosing either interior opulence, or off-road ability, the 2010 Range Rover Sport brings a stunning blend of both.

Adding to the temptation, a generous interior and a decent turn of on-road ability makes the Range Rover Sport an even more enticing option.

Lastly, a powerful, refined and frugal engine further contributes to a seriously convincing vehicle.

Likes

  • Bluff, technical styling.
  • Almost concept-car like interior detailing.
  • Strong but frugal engine.
  • Pillow-like ride.

Dislikes

  • Vague steering.
  • Transmission lacks finesse at low speed.
  • Portly kerb weight.

Specifications

Engine: TDV6 Turbodiesel V6
Capacity: 2993cc
Bore x Stroke: 84mm x 90mm
Compression Ratio: 16:1
Power: 180kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 2000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed tiptronic automatic with dual-range transfer case. Permanent 4WD.

Performance
0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed:193km/h (claimed)

Fuel Economy: 9.2 l/100km Combined (claimed)
CO2 Emissions: 243g/km
Fuel Tank Capacity: 84.1 litres

Suspension: Air suspension, independent front and rear.

Wheels: 19 x 9-inch 15 spoke alloys.
Tyres: 255/50R19 Goodyear Wrangler F1

Brakes Front: 360mm ventilated discs, two-piston sliding caliper
Brakes Rear: 350mm ventilated dics, sliding caliper

Active Safety Equipment: ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control, Rolls Stability Control, Enhanced Understeer Control, Electronic Differential Control
Passive Safety Equipment: Front and side airbags for front row occupants, curtain airbags for first and second rows.

Dimensions:
Front Track: 1605mm
Rear Track: 1612mm
Wheelbase: 2745mm
Ground Clearance: 227mm (at max height)
Fording Depth: 700mm
Turning Circle: 11.5 metres

Kerb Weight: 2535kg
Unbraked Towing Load: 750kg
Braked Towing Load: 3500kg

Luggage Space, Rear Seats Up: 958 litres
Luggage Space, Rear Seats Down: 2013 litres

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Filed under: Featured, review, wagon, Land Rover, Range Rover, diesel, suv, 4wd, range rover sport, turbo, prestige, range rover sport tdv6, family, large, 6cyl, 5door

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  • GregH says,
    4 years ago
    3 likes
    • anthony blaylock says,
      9 months ago
      well i to like every other person likes the look of the new range rover sport hse, i have had 5 off them all 2.7 until the new 3 liter
      from day one i had big problems with it and within the space of 8 weeks it was in the dealers every other week it was a pain.
      to buy such a high end car at over 60 thousand pound was letting me down big style the problem was as follows
      one it would pull up at a speed of about 10 to 15 MPH it would just stop everything that could come on the warning screen would do, it was described by the dealer as lighting up like a Christmas tree
      the garage would take it and try to fix it but did not thy tried everything
      new turbo electric censers plus every other thing thy could do.
      but time after time i was told it had been fixed until that day it changed my life forever.
      the dealer took the car in to again try to fix the problem and had the car for three days
      i was rang and told by the service manager that it had finally been fixed and i would not have any more problems with it again ,by this time i had lost confidence with the car
      it had let us down time and time again so all i done was drive it home about three mile from the garage to home we used the wife's car over the week end
      on Monday morning i got into the car drove it onto the main road heading for work on a site i had just started
      i got up to about 60 to 70 MPH and without warning the car what i can only describe as an emergence stop it was so violent that i was thrown forward and backward i hit my head hit the headrest quite bad also my left hand was pushed up into the steering wheel well it is all history now as i have ended up most of the time in a wheel chair i had an emergency operation on my spine because i broke my neck in three places i now have metal plates in it i am on over 30 tablets a day don't sleep much with pain my left side has deteriorated have no strength and i am going in for another operation again on my spine it has ruined my life all because of what i have been told was a censer but land rover is fighting it through the court i have not a problem with land rover it was the people who supply the censer thay did take the car back and replace it with a new one and you will never guess what happened i drove it down the road and it pulled up the same as the first at low speed i rang the garage before i could tell them what happened i was told that their was a recall and the censer had to be replaced IF ONLY IT HAD BEEN DONE BEFORE I HAD MY LIFE TAKEN AWAY all i can do is walk a little but most of the time in the wheel chair.
      yesterday was the first court hearing and land rover are doing everything to make me out to be a lair but the facts are all their
      as i said at the start of this blog i loved the cars before this happened so much so that i am a share holder of TATA motors the owner of jaguar land rover i no it is the insurance company that is trying to get out of admitting liability and paying compensation to me i wonder what other share holders would ask to change the insurance company that are making a fool of land rover
      because after this has finished i will put the story in the world press.
  • GregH says,
    4 years ago
    3 likes
    Has anyone had any problems with their 2010 Range Rover Sports GPS or Bluetooth phone connection?
    • j may says,
      8 months ago
      you should put this story in the magazeen privet eye it sounds like a freak accsident it happens ask alex tapley the cars own designer he had a nasty turn with the car that could have killed him and his family this is his own words
      makes you think i you are nakard but alive if only just your life in the hands of the people that no
  • Kitso Clement Legote says,
    5 months ago
    This is My Dream Car,I hope itz maintenance is not that high

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