The latest Range Rover Sport is one of the best large SUVs. In fact, it’s so good that it makes you question the sense in buying the more expensive, full-size Range Rover.
If we have one criticism it’s that the versions we’ve tested so far don’t live up to the ‘Sport’ tag. However, this flagship diesel model looks more promising.
While lesser diesel Sports are powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine, the SDV8 uses a 4.4-litre V8 with 334bhp and 516lb ft of torque.
That’s enough to get it from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, plus the SDV8 comes with a Dynamic Pack, which features retuned steering and active anti-roll bars.
What’s the 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8 like to drive?
The engine in the SDV8 makes a lovely burbling noise that wouldn’t be out of place in a V8 petrol car, plus it pulls smoothly and strongly from low revs.
Just don’t expect to keep up with a V8 diesel Cayenne; the Porsche is quite a bit faster, with the difference in performance particularly obvious when you pull out and ask for maximum overtaking punch.
Where the SDV8 is comparable with the Cayenne is in the way it handles. It feels very agile for such a tall, heavy car, changing direction quickly and with little body sway.
The steering gives you even more confidence, feeling a lot meatier than the steering in Range Rover Sports without the Dynamic Pack.
True, you do pay for the SDV8’s greater composure with a firmer ride, but it’s never uncomfortable, and the Sport remains one of the quietest cruisers in its class.
What’s the 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8 like inside?
The SDV8 is like any other Range Rover Sport from behind the wheel, which means almost every surface and switch feels classy.
Only the touch-screen infotainment system disappoints; it looks smart, but is frustrating to use because it’s rather slow to respond and the menus are confusingly laid out.
As for practicality, the Sport has no more rear leg- or headroom than rivals such as the Cayenne, but its wider cabin means five people can travel more comfortably.
Better still, for an extra £1600, Land Rover will fit a third row of seats, enabling you to carry up to seven people, although the limited legroom makes them best-suited to kids.
Should I buy one?
The Range Rover Sport SDV8 comes with every conceivable luxury and is fun to drive. The SDV6 model remains the pick of the range, however.
Not only is it almost as fast – it takes just 0.3 seconds longer to reach 60mph – but it costs £21,555 less if you buy it in our favoured HSE trim.
Even the SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic model, which is just as well equipped and agile as the SDV8, is £6555 cheaper. However, when you drive the SDV8, it's easy to see the appeal of its torquey, sweet-sounding engine.
What Car? says...
BMW X5 M50d
Porsche Cayenne V8 Diesel S
Range Rover Sport SDV8
Engine size 4.4-litre V8 diesel
Price from £81,550
Torque 516lb ft
0-60mph 6.5 seconds
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 32.5mpg