We’re big fans of specialised cars. Sports cars go fast, whether that’s in a straight line or through corners. Family wagons are designed to be comfortable and durable. Hardcore off-roaders might not be the last word in sophistication, but they reach terrain where no conventional SUV will take us.
But not everybody has the interest—or the garage space—to buy three cars for three different lifestyles. There must be one car to do it all, right? There must be one model that can confidently offer driving pleasure, handle family duties with ease, and be capable enough to off-road properly.
It turns out that such a compromise is difficult to achieve. There are a quite a few good performance SUVs, like the BMW X5 M50d with its mammoth triple-turbocharging, or the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel—but neither German will take you very far off-road. Then, there are luxurious four-by-fours that are capable off the beaten track, like the Toyota LandCruiser Sahara. But the LandCruiser drives more like a truck than a car once you’re back in civilisation.
Making a car dynamic on the road and highly capable off it is tough: these are two goals that pull engineers in opposite directions. Despite this, Land Rover have managed to strike that balance rather convincingly across their range.
The 2016 Range Rover Sport SDV8 stands out as particularly compelling. Provided you’ve got $170,000 or so, the Sport is the car we’d buy when you need a sophisticated tool to fit many of the aspects of modern life: whether that’s traversing deep snow on the way to the ski fields, or just dropping the kids at school, the Sport is equally at home.
Plenty of the Range Rover’s competitors do go-fast dynamics or luxurious interiors. It’s the Range Rover, though, that is unique in offering actual off-road ability, a higher level of durability—plus the unspoken sophistication that is intertwined with the British brand.
Key specs (as tested)
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Range Rover 2022: engines to include straight-six petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid, BMW-sourced turbo V8
Range Rover 2022: six-cylinder plug-in hybrid to arrive late next year with up to 100km of electric range
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