Buyers can pick from seven engines - three diesels, three petrols and one diesel hybrid when specifying their new Range Rover Sport.

The strong, smooth thrust of the supercharged V8 engine is familiar from previous applications, even though it comes with a brand new exhaust note. The muted, rasping roar seems to come entirely from the tailpipes, however, because mechanical noise is so well controlled.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The absence of a low-range box in the SDV6 won't slow many

The gearbox is simply unobtrusive. It's always ready to drop a gear or two for quick overtaking acceleration, but also keen to let the car cruise between 2000 and 2500rpm.

Nevertheless, the only real choice for most British buyers will be which of the two V6 diesels to plump for, with their claimed 37-38mpg and sub-200g/km CO2 emissions.

We don’t look for outright accelerative performance when it comes to cars such as the Range Rover Sport. Diesel engines, automatic gearboxes and two-tonne-plus kerb weights do not make for quick standing start figures.

The joy of the SDV6 is that you don’t need to bully it to get the performance most drivers need, most of the time. You get 302bhp, but it’s the availability of 516lb ft arriving at 1500rpm and available across a fat seam of the rev band that enables a swift, effortless pull-away under half throttle.

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Headline performance figures are plenty fast enough for a two-tonne, two-metre-wide car: 0-60mph is dispatched in 6.8sec and the acceleration it won’t stop until you hit 130mph. 

But more significant than any standing start figure is the Sport’s ability to respond to requests for urge once you’re rolling. From 30mph, the SDV6 reached 70mph in a tidy 7.5sec and asked only 0.4sec more when we held it in fourth gear over the same speed range – which requires use of the gear selector because steering wheel paddles are a £200 cost option.

On kickdown – the more likely used alternative on this eight-speed auto, not only because of the absence of paddles but also because this is such a competent, easy-shifting gearbox – 50-70mph takes only 4.5sec.

Reaching and maintaining a fast motorway cruise, then, is something that any Sport model does with consummate ease and oomph to spare, and with precious little noise intruding into the cabin.

The BMW 4 Series we road tested is built to cover vast motorway miles, yet emits as much cabin noise at a constant 70mph as the Range Rover Sport SDV6 does under full acceleration at around the same speed.

At any speed, in any specification, the Range Rover Sport is an impeccably refined, quiet car. It’s even – given its weight – respectably economical.

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