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You need only know one fact about the latest Range Rover Sport to understand its chief advancement. While the first-generation model used the steel hybrid monocoque developed for the Discovery, the new one has been engineered in tandem with its big-brother Range Rover and uses an adapted version of that model’s aluminium platform.

That makes it the first SUV in a class populated by cars as sporting as the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne to switch to aluminium construction – which ought to make it lighter than the class average.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The SDV6 HSE is our pick of the range

Just as we found with the full-fat Range Rover, however, what it actually does is make it competitive on kerb weight while also allowing Land Rover to offset the effect of richer equipment levels. When weighing a SDV6 model our scales settled at 2360kg, so it’s more than 300kg lighter than we would have expected of the outgoing equivalent, but still not light.

While it has grown dimensionally in all directions, the Sport still looks relatively athletic and, next to a Range Rover, compact. That’s down to the higher belt line, flatter windscreen and a wheelbase that’s 178mm longer than it was. More streamlined styling also flatters the Sport where the old model’s brash looks never did.

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Suspension is via aluminium double wishbones and multi-links, along with height-adjustable air springs teamed with continuously variable dampers. The engine range includes an entry-level 2.0-litre diesel capable of 236bhp and 45.6mpg. That is followed by the 302bhp 3.0-litre SDV6 and a hybrid unit utilising the same oilburner, while completing the diesel range is the venerable 4.4-litre V8.

The petrol engine consists of two supercharged units - a 335bhp 3.0-litre V6 and a 5.0-litre V8 in two power outputs - 503bhp and 542bhp with the latter powering the boombastic SVR version.

But it’s the cheaper end of the scale that many will be interested in – specifically, 3.0-litre SDV6. It uses a lighter and simpler Torsen-based 4x4 system, shuns the Dynamic chassis and driveline add-ons and – until next year’s diesel hybrid arrives – represents the Sport at its most affordable and economical, and, by extension, palatable in volume terms.

The difference between the heavier-duty transmission fitted to the more powerful Range Rover Sports and the lighter one on the SDV6 model is, in meaningful terms, 18kg. That’s how much weight is saved by substituting the multi-plate clutch and transfer box of the more expensive models for the Torsen centre differential of the SDV6.

Land Rover clearly foresees lighter off-road usage for this less powerful diesel model. As far as its functionality is concerned, the difference between the two systems is that – besides sacrificing the heavy-duty set-up’s low-range ratio – the Torsen system can’t be locked in a 50/50 front/rear torque split.

On top of that, while the heavy-duty set-up can route 100 percent of torque to either axle should the Terrain Response deem it necessary, the Torsen system can only supply a maximum of 62 percent of torque to the front or 78 percent to the rear. There’s also no torque vectoring on the rear axle, as there is on higher-powered versions, to apportion torque like a limited-slip differential.

The Torsen set-up also features its own, special traction control program, which is tuned to allow it to work differently – albeit still very effectively – from the heavier-duty set-up, and the SDV6 can still tow 3500kg, like the bigger engines.

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