Range Rover Sport’s changes for the better

A series of tweaks and changes have made the Range Rover Sport even more civilised and capable.

The new Range Rover Sport has been revised for 2011 and it's had more than a facelift because there are some significant changes beneath the skin with a modified, more powerful, more efficient turbodiesel engine.

There are two improved engines on offer including a 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel and a range-topping 503bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 which can make 0-62mph in five seconds.

When a car is labelled 'Sport' it's no longer the case it's all about performance and the new engines not only boast substantial increases in power and torque but also lower emissions and fuel consumption.

Changes to the chassis include active damping and a Brembo brake system which brings the burly Range Rover to a quick stop.

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Taking all that was good about the mighty Range Rover and, through the work of designers, presenting a slightly more youthful appearance, it sought to tempt buyers away from rivals that were perceived to be more contemporary in looks and image.

Highlighting the youthful angle is appropriate considering Land Rover has updated its junior Range Rover. It's also appropriate that the car's visual appearance has changed slightly. Call it a nip and tuck if you like, the Sport's nose has been softened. Gone is the stark grille, in its place a more cohesive nose and bumper arrangement. The front and rear lights are now LED – with a smoked-effect finish at the back and subtle daytime running lights.

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It all adds up to a sleeker, less fussy and more sophisticated 'look', and one that does much to help promote Land Rover's desire to be viewed as a smart, fashionable brand.

The changes continue inside, with the focus very much on improving the car's premium ambience. Gone is the dark plastic centre console, in its place a soft-touch, colour-co-ordinated central fascia. There's upgraded leather on the seats, soft-touch textiles and the array of electronic equipment includes the adoption of a TFT colour screen.

Other new toys include five cameras which provide a 360-degree view of the car when reversing to help with parking. There's also a system that detects oncoming cars and dips the headlights as well as a clever multimedia system with screens for back-seat passengers and heated and cooled seats all round.

The Sport's cabin is now on a par with a conventional executive saloon's. It's certainly spacious enough, while the Sport's trump card – lofty driving position – will likely be a deal-clincher for some.

One important reason to get the Sport over a conventional saloon is its all-weather and all-terrain ability. For some the latter will rarely be exploited, yet the underlying ability is nothing short of breathtaking.

It's helped by the Sport's engine line-up. Diesel dominates and while the beefy supercharged petrol V8 is now faster, more powerful and cleaner, the new TDV6 is destined to grab all the headlines.

The flagship TDV8 might offer lots of power and torque, but the TDV6 delivers an experience that might be close enough for some. Punchy when it comes to overtaking and powering out of corners yet quiet on the motorway, this new TDV6 puts the 'lesser' diesel Sport back on the map.

All this power makes off-roading a breeze. The smooth automatic gearbox makes life inching over obstacles easy enough for novices to feel confident, while electronic aids take your mind off the complicated stuff and allow you to concentrate on the muddy track. Land Rover's familiar Terrain Response system makes off-roading a doddle. Simply dial up the terrain – mud, snow, sand etc – and transmission, differential and suspension settings are taken care of and adjusted when needed. It's no wonder the car is popular when off-roading is this civilised.

And that's a good way to sum up the Range Rover Sport – civilised. With the premium ambience ratcheted up a few more notches and the car's already peerless off-roading given a further polish, you don't need to look anywhere else as nothing comes close.

Range Rover Sport 3.0 LR-TD V6

Price: From �55,145 on the road

Engine: 3.0-litre, 245bhp turbo diesel

Transmission: Six-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-60mph 8.8 seconds; top speed 120mph

Economy: 30.7mpg

CO2 Rating: 243g/km

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