AS I write this, I am sitting watching the sunset across the Gulf of St Tropez, about to drive back to Blighty towing a photographer friend’s two-tonne boat. My friend Kos, you see, is a yacht photographer who uses a Range Rover Sport to tow her boats to sailing regattas around Europe. She is looking to upgrade her current model to this one, and has been trying out for a month.
Now with more power, more torque and a 3.0 litre engine, upgraded from the old 2.7 litre, the latest Sport has curbed its thirst – great news for all that towing. Kos prefers the old one for smoothness and power, but finds the 3.0 litre engine more fuel efficient. She often needs to get to the edge of the water, which can involve a fairly dodgy off-road route. The self-levelling suspension helped with this. I towed the yacht out of the water up an incline with no problem.
Kos was also impressed with the technology that automatically slowed the car down if someone pulled in front of us too closely. The car slowed until four chevrons appeared in the screen on the dash telling us it was safe to resume our speed and then took us straight back to our set cruising speed.
There are now five cameras on the Range Rover Sport, split between front and rear. Again this is helpful for towing, as you can enlarge the view on any of the screens to see close-up what’s happening out back. The 3.0 litre engine with 245bhp features two turbochargers which work independently of each other. On motorways and under normal driving conditions, one is in use but the second kicks in the minute more power is called for and there’s no lag noticeable which increases efficiency.
For a big diesel, it is surprisingly quiet – in fact, the cabin is so well cushioned from road and engine noise, you feel like you’ve got noise-cancelling headphones on. Our car was fitted with screens in the rear of the front head restraints and I watched the entire Japanese grand prix from the Autoroute du Soleil in fine comfort.
Upgraded damping and a new braking system also feature, as does improved steering, which made parking in the back streets of St Tropez a breeze. Any dislikes? We’re agreed that the clock in the centre of the dash looks a bit cheap, but that’s it.
When we arrived at the Channel Tunnel, Kos asked me, if I had to go back down to St Tropez and do it all again, which car would I choose? This one, I said. No question.
SPORT TDV6 HSE
0–62mph: 8.8 secs
Top speed: 120mph
CO2 g/km: 243
OTR price: £50,695