hardware: Range Rover Sports HST
First it behoves us to look at some environmental figures: From the Environmental Defence watchdog group...
'While cars account for a tenth of greenhouse gas emissions around the world, American cars are responsible for 20% of US energy-related emissions. The Environmental Defence report found: "The amount of CO2 emitted from oil used for transportation in the United States is similar to the amount from coal used to generate electricity." General Motors, the biggest US car manufacturer, is responsible for nearly a third of those emissions, more than the biggest US power company, American Electric Power. GM and other car companies did not comment directly on the report, but noted that they were seeking to improve the energy efficiency and reduce the emissions of their fleets.
Mr DeCicco argues that far more stringent measures are needed, including a national cap on carbon emissions and a trading system that would allow companies that made more efficient cars to sell their carbon emissions rights to other firms. He also suggested that local authorities should be given financial credits for innovations that lead residents to drive less, providing better public transport or building shops closer to where people live.'
see http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1808314,00.html for more.
The operation of the politics of envy in this sort of area often invites the troglodyte reaction of people such as the UK's Top Gear frontman. Both are stupid and unhelpful. In the absense of personal energy quotas (why not? And how about a PEQ market?) some common sense and alteration of behaviour is required. Using this car, a Hummer or a Lamborghini or suchlike, for everyday long commutes is unsociable.
Anyway! On with the show. This newish Range Rover is the fastest thing they make. It has a near 400 bhp supercharged V8 and body changes that make it look like you might like to try the Paris-Dakar in it. The look includes a serious looking spoiler at the front, big pipes at the back and a whole bunch of details that mark the HST in the pictures, which is the fully optioned model.
This is not actually a racing car. It has the usual very comfy Range Rover seats, quiet and somewhat boring interior, and a manual shift is not an option. A semi-automatic function is possible where you can up and downshift by moving the shift fore and aft, and aided by the engine management system which alters engine speed to suit.
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Similarly, the suspension has a nice tied down feel without feeling harsh. The whole idea here is that of a grand tourer - fast and comfy, and it is that in spades.
The interior of the test vehicle was understated and a little uninspired. The instrument bezels and such have a sort of boring corporate plastic look about them. Do people really like this? Or are they just supposed to not notice because most everyone else has the same sort of thing?
This unit has more torque than its turbo-diesel cousin and really moves for such a luxurious machine with a 7.2 second 0-60mph time and only another .4 sec to get to 100mph - easy overtaking for sure. When we were out we spent most of the time stuck in traffic with only a couple of nice short bursts to satisfy the atavistic urge to fly. The whole thing was done without much fuss. There's a refined growl from the V8 but nothing to set heads wagging and in traffic it's virtually silent.
Stopping is aided by big Brembo discs and should be fairly impressive. We didn't have an opportunity to test them out.
Fuel economy, as you'd expect with 4 litre supercharged V8 is not particularly wonderful, with about 13mpg expected on the Urban Cycle. There is a rumour of a big turbo-deisel V8 to come so it'll be interesting to see what sort of performance and economy figures that achieves.
All in all, it's an impressive vehicle with a load of performance. Whether the so-called classiness of a Range Rover is undermined by the body kit is something the beholder will have to work out.
UK Specs http://www.landrover.com/gb/en/Vehicles/Range_Rover_Sport/Specifications/Engines%20and%20performance.htm
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