An engine that already powers up to 90 per cent of Land Rovers in Europe finally makes its way to North America under the bonnet of the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6. The new offering slots just above the supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 in the Range Rover Sport line-up, with a base price of $82,990.
Although the engine’s appearance on this side of the pond is enough for Land Rover fans to throw up their hands in thanks, many others can be heard muttering “What took them so long?” in the background. Those same pundits may also wonder out loud why we didn’t get the diesel-electric hybrid version offered in Europe and China, which is even more impressive in avoiding fuel pumps.
As it is, the Td6 faces numerous contestants in the luxury SUV segment. There is the Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTec diesel, the BMW X5 35d and Porsche, with a hybrid version of their Cayenne, for those well-heeled buyers who like respectable fuel economy with their luxury. Sharp-eyed readers might even recognize the design of the engine, a 60-degree V-6 that can trace its heritage back to when Ford owned Land Rover. For trivia buffs, this is the Lion V-6 and is a member of the Ford Duratorq family.
But that’s not to say that the engine isn’t state-of-the-art. Instead of iron, the block is now made of a compacted graphite iron to reduce weight (much like the Lincoln MKX I reviewed two weeks ago) bolted to a double-overhead-cam aluminum cylinder head with four valves per cylinder.
And you can pretty much forget about smelly diesel exhaust. The vehicle has an exhaust-scrubber that involves using Diesel Exhaust Fluid to turn harmful nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen gas. The urea-based DEF is housed in an onboard tank that is claimed to be good for approximately 16,000 kilometres between refills.
The direct injection 3.0-litre diesel produces 254 horsepower and an impressive 440 foot-pounds of torque. Parallel sequential turbochargers propel it to a top speed of 210 km/h with a 0-to-100 km/h dash in 7.6 seconds, 0.4 seconds slower than the supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 offered in the same body. The 440 lb.-ft. of torque means the Range Rover boasts a 3,500-kg gross towing capacity and lots of grunt in lower gears when off-roading.
The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
Driven sensibly, Land Rover claims one can achieve fuel economy of 10.6 litres per 100 km in the city and a frugal 8.1 on the highway, based on the government’s new five-cycle testing methods. The engine employs a stop-start cycle to save that last millilitre of fuel at stop lights.
Those venturing off-road will be able to adjust their obstacle clearance from a standard of 213 millimetres to a maximum 277 mm at the touch of a button to engage the air-suspension system. The approach angle for both front and rear are 31 degrees, with a ramp angle of 24.6 degrees. Drivers can manually select wheel slippage in various ground conditions — from snow to sand — or just leave it in auto and let the vehicle select the optimum amount based on feedback from the wheels.
Hill Descent Control, a common feature in off-road vehicles, is augmented by Gradient Acceleration Control and Reactive Grounding Response. The last feature is a doozy - when the vehicle detects grounding it will automatically lift the body to its extended off-road height.
Conversely, the air suspension also lowers the vehicle height at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics.
Passengers are treated royally with a cabin replete with top-notch materials at every turn and room enough to stretch out without compromising other occupants.
People who enjoy the latest in technology will have a field day exploring the limits of electronic gadgetry. Those who abhor the same will similarly be content to find the most-used controls are logically positioned, easy to operate and understand.
Although this is a diesel-powered vehicle, the engineers have done a marvelous job of masking the harmonics typically associated with high-compression engines. One might notice a low thrum under a heavy foot, but under normal driving it is as hushed as its gasoline-powered brethren.
The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 is luxurious, rugged and frugal in one package. While others can equal the Rover in many aspects, its combination of grace and pedigree is a compelling package to consider.