From the first product briefing in a Barcelona hotel, to the dusty end of a day of off- and on-road driving, Land Rover engineers and public relations staff gave me stacks of information about the new diesel-engined Range Rover Sport. How efficient the newly motivated SUV would be, how much it will cost buyers, facts about the technology that's gone into the new engine, notes on available feature content, and more. But, before I'd turned a wheel in the freshest Range Rover family member, the most intriguing bit was this: in blind pre-production testing, not a single participant had identified that the vehicle they were driving was diesel-powered. To put it bluntly, I was skeptical. Were the driver's fashionistas whose only conception of "diesel" was as a slightly bro-y clothing company? Perhaps the unwitting test-drivers were casually selected from queue-standers at the local Beltone hearing test center? As it turns out, Land Rover has done a lot of work to make the 3.0-liter, "Td6" turbodiesel as quiet as possible. To start, the engine block is made of compacted graphite iron (CGI), which reduces overall vibration and refines the character of the engine. New, isolating engine mounts further smooth things out, and an acoustic laminated windshield buffers the SUV's cabin from the outside world. Forget everything you know about the rattling, clicking, clattering sound of diesels past. The overall result of this effort is impressive, as I found gleefully turning the wheels in the mountains around Barcelona, Spain. Even at speeds of 70 miles per hour and higher, the Td6 sailed along with a bit of wind rush the only noise to mar the interior quiet. Other vehicles do well with loads of noise-cancelling insulation, of course, but the Range Rover Sport was even near-silent from the outside. While walking around the running vehicle to photograph it, the engine emitted a low murmur a few decibels above the ambient hum of the countryside. Forget everything you know about the rattling, clicking, clattering sound of diesels past. Land Rover's Td6-equipped SUV is one of the quietest diesel vehicles I've ever experienced, and probably the most noise-refined thing currently in the automaker's showroom. The complete stillness was surprising, but it wasn't long before I was enjoying the expected goodness of the new powerplant: diesel torque. The Td6 is good for a modest 254 horsepower, and a great big happy 440 pound-feet of torque. That's more than enough to quickly motivate the lightweight SUV – under 5,000 pounds qualifies as "light" in this heavyweight class. Sixty miles per hour comes up in just 7.1 seconds, or about the time it takes a Mini Cooper driver to say, "that's quicker than I expected." But the real benefit of the torque output is on the highway, where I was able to blithely pass anything that wasn't German-driven or late for dinner. And, for those keeping score at home, the Td6's 0-60 figure is only two-tenths of a second behind the gasoline-burning, supercharged-V6 version of the Sport. …
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|MPG||17 City / 23 Hwy|
|Power||340 @ 6500 rpm|
|Drivetrain||Terrain Response four-wheel|
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