Road Test: 2006 Range Rover Sport HSE (Supercharged)

Royal Family: New heir to the throne

G.R. Whale
Oct 11, 2005
Photographers: Nick Dimbleby
Hoping to remain competitive without diluting the legacy of the brand, this summer Land Rover introduces two versions of the Range Rover Sport and adds a supercharged Range Rover, expanding the lineup from one model to four. And, for the first time in its 35-year history, every version of the uniquely British Range Rover comes with a British V-8 engine.
Granted, diversification can be taken to excess (Land Rover has no ultraperformance sports cars on the development schedule). However, the Range Rover Sport is designed exactly as its name implies--to be a smaller, more nimble, more involved driving companion.
Photo 2/6   |   2006 Range Rover Sport HSE Range Rover Sport Supercharged Interior View Dashboard
The Range Rover Sport is derived from the same platform as the LR3, Motor Trend's SUV of the Year, and although six inches of wheelbase, the third-row seat, and a bit of glass and roofline have been carved off, the Sport is still a hefty middleweight of more than 5400 pounds. In fact, the larger, partially paneled-in aluminum Range Rover doesn't weigh much more, resulting in a solid feel with acceleration that now ranks as average.
Dimensions are similar to those of an X5, inside and out, yet the Sport appears considerably smaller and more agile than the X5. Drag coefficient is given as 0.37, and there's significant frontal area, so you'll get wind noise at speed (80-plus mph), and only the supercharged vehicle requires an artificial limiter.
As on the LR3, a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 derived from the Jaguar AJ engine is standard, as is a ZF six-speed autobox. With wide gaps between the first three gears, the engine is able to take advantage of short gearing to get underway, and dual overdrives at the top allow for relaxed cruising. Gear changes are smooth and taut, often unnoticed unless you shift it yourself. Unlike the LR3's centrally mounted shifter, the Sport's is to the driver's side of the console and much handier.
A more significant item not available on an LR3 is a supercharged engine. Debored by 2.0 mm, the 4.2-liter delivers 390 horsepower--up 90 horsepower from the 4.4--and 410 pound-feet of torque (up 95 pound-feet), 500 rpm earlier than the 4.4. Peak boost runs about 10 psi and top speed is electronically limited to 140 mph in the name of cooling, tires, and common sense.
Rover claims the supercharged model reaches 60 mph in 7.2 seconds; we hand-timed 7.4 seconds, with three people on board and 2000 feet above sea level, so we've no reason to doubt it. In a world of sub-six-second to 60-mph 'utes, this won't win any drag races (at least not those on dry ground), but the supercharged Sport feels quicker than that and brings welcome increases in midrange grunt and passing speeds. It also brings blower whine you can hear (insert silly grin) and an exhaust note that rivals the best V-8 cars and trucks.
Photo 3/6   |   163 0508 07z 2006 Range Rover Sport HSE Range Rover Sport Supercharged Engine
Relative to other premium sport/utilities, the Sport HSE has the narrowest range between torque and power peaks (4000/5500); the Porsche Cayenne has the widest (2500/6000 rpm), but it and the Touareg V-8 make more horsepower than torque, and BMW's X5 4.8is prices out near a supercharged Sport, but weighs a chunk less. We suspect a Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Volvo XC90 V-8, plus the aforementioned SUVs, are quicker than the Sport to 60, and many, including a diesel Touareg, will best the supercharged Sport. A more expensive brute like the G55 AMG, Cayenne Turbo, or Touareg W12 will simply vanish and leave a forwarding address in its wake.
Photo 4/6   |   2006 Range Rover Sport HSE Range Rover Sport Supercharged Interior View Gauge Cluster
However, none of the above can match Land Rover's off-road heritage and would likely have a hard time keeping up without pavement to pound (we suspect the HSE-priced GX 470 with KDSS could at least give it a challenge). Since the differentials are fixed up high, making ring-gear diameter less relevant, the 1.22:1 high-range gear reduction of old Rovers is now 1:1 and low-range is 2.93:1. This steep reduction is nearly unmatched and provides a minimum crawl ratio of 43:1, better than some manual-gearbox 4x4s. With a center diff lock (and optional rear), shift-on-the-fly low range, and Rover's Terrain Response system, lack of power won't be the determining factor.
Land Rover makes no excuses about the Sport's on-road bias; performance utilities are the fast-growing segment of the SUV market. Fortunately for them, no excuses seem necessary.
The Sport rides on cross-linked independent air suspension already proven on the Range Rover and LR3, and, while the basic components are similar, everything has been recalibrated with performance driving in mind. Reaction to the extremely thick-rim steering wheel is crisper, and it needs just three turns lock-to-lock, a lighter touch of the brake brings quick retarding, and spring rates come close to firm.
Even more entertaining is the Dynamic Response active suspension system--standard on supercharged Sports and optional on the HSE. This setup uses input from various sensors, including steering angle and horizontal acceleration, to actively control body roll with results much like Mercedes's ABC or Lexus KDSS. Even flung into a hairpin with the stability-control light blinking defiant protest, the Sport stays nearly flat and confident.
Photo 5/6   |   2006 Range Rover Sport HSE Range Rover Sport Supercharged Wheel View
Once into terrain where Land Rover made its reputation, the Sport carries on like an LR3 with a much larger footprint. Amid the whirling blower, bellowing exhausts, and 4000 rpm, the Sport does not scamper up dunes so much as charge.
On tougher terrain, it'll crawl over rocky ruts and bog as well, you're simply less involved because tepid throttle application is often enough and steering needs only minor course correction. In most off-road situations, Dynamic Response is disabled, yielding maximum suspension articulation for traction and comfort; however, on side hills the anti-roll bars lock for more stability.
As you'd expect, the cabin is a blend of LR3 and Range Rover, with the central dash, edged in wood trim, sweeping aft as it descends. Leather abounds and covers substantial front seats with more bolstering but are a bit shy in cushion length, and a split-bench is used in back, contoured more like two buckets though the occasional center rider won't feel totally neglected.
A hatch is used for cargo access, and the glass portion may be opened separately for small items or when clearance is an issue. Floorspace is good and will handle most recreational materials, while full-height cargo is limited by the raked roofline and backlight angle.
Photo 6/6   |   2006 Range Rover Sport HSE Range Rover Sport Supercharged Front Passenger Side View Rock Climbing
Supercharged models will be recognized by the bright finish grille, side vents and exhaust outlets, 20-inch wheels, and silver-on-black badging. Many of the standards on the supercharged version are offered on the HSE, which starts at $13,000 less.
Land Rover anticipates annual North American sales of about 15,000 Sports to go along with 13,000 Range Rovers. Experience with R Jaguars causes us to imagine we'd spend the $75,000 on a well-equipped Sport Supercharged instead of a normally aspirated Range Rover, and if you want all-wheel drive and room for the dog in your S-Type R, you might, too.
Macho Man
--Arthur St. Antoine
On a recent trip to Spain to drive the supercharged Range Rover Sport, Motor Trend writer and adventurer Art St. Antoine decided to catch a ride in one of the biggest, fastest desert runners in the world, especially fun when your driver has a crazy look in his eye.--Ed.
We're going to die, I thought. For sure. The huge, 22,000-pound truck I'm belted into is barreling over a pitching, heaving scratch of Spanish terrain at more than 100 mph--and up ahead the "road" disappears into a sharp left-hand, off-camber kink. That's it. If we're lucky, after we crash this monster will stop rolling by, oh, Madrid.
But we don't crash. In fact, as the giant MAN LE-90 reaches the kink, its Pirellis impossibly maintaining a grip on the earth as we roll and pitch through the evil turn, driver Pep Vila is laughing. "Is good, no!" he cackles while lining up for an abrupt grade that looks like a department-store escalator. The MAN flies over the hill, crashes down on the other side--and keeps right on hammering along, a tornado-like dust cloud in its wake. Vila is laughing again. "In the race, we do this for 11, 12 hours a day!"
Oh, yes, the race. This rig is the pride and joy of the Spanish PROmotor-Les Comes team (, which, piloted by Vila and codrivers Moi Torrallardona and Toni Manresa, finished 12th in the truck class of this year's 5600-mile Dakar Rally.
Boasting more than 420 horsepower from its MAN diesel, the specially modified LE-90 military truck sports a 16-speed gearbox, aluminum bodywork, two 120-gallon fuel tanks, and a tire-pressure regulating system.
After just one lap of the off-road course at the team's base at Les Comes, a 10th-century farming estate outside Barcelona, I'm battered and bruised. After 12 hours in this beast, a free vacation to Maui should be mandatory.

2006 Range Rover Sport HSE
(Range Rover Sport Supercharged)
Location of final assembly Solihull, England
Body style 4-door SUV
EPA size class Special purpose
Drivetrain layout Front engine/4WD
Airbags Front/side curtain
Engine type 90° V-8, alum block/heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.47x3.56 (3.39x3.56)
Displacement, ci/L 268/4.4 (256/4.2)
Compression ratio 10.8:1 (9.1:1)
Valve gear DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Fuel induction SFI (SFI, supercharger,air-to-water IC)
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 300 @ 5500 (390@5750)
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 315 @ 4000 (410@3500)
Transmission type 6-speed automatic
1st 4.17:1
2nd 2.34:1
3rd 1.52:1
4th 1.14:1
5th 0.87:1
6th 0.69:1
Reverse 3.40:1
Axle ratio 3.73:1 (3.54:1)
Final-drive ratio 2.57:1 (2.44:1)
Low-range ratio 2.93:1
Crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low) 45.6:1 (43.2:1)
Recommended fuel Unleaded premium
Wheelbase, in 108.0
Length, in 188.5
Width, in 85.4 (w/mirrors)
Height, in 71.5
Track, f/r, in 63.2/63.5
Headroom, f/r, in 39.4/38.4
Legroom, f/r, in 39.1/37.6
Shoulder room, f/r, in 59.0/58.2
Total cargo area volume, cu ft 71.0
Back row seat up 33.8
Ground clearance, in 6.8 (8.9)
Max approach/departure angle, deg 34.0/29.0
Max breakover angle, deg 25.0
Base curb weight, lb 5468 (5671)
Payload capacity, lb 1301 (1219)
GVWR, lb 6769 (6890)
GCWR, lb 14,000
Towing capacity, lb 7716
Fuel capacity, gal 23.3
Suspension, f/r IFS/IRS struts, double-pivot lower arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering type Rack and pinion
Ratio 14.1-16.8
Turns, lock to lock 3.1
Turning circle, ft 38.1
Brakes, front 13.3-in vented disc, ABS (14.2-in vented disc, ABS)
Brakes, rear 13.8-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 19 x 9.0 (20 x 9.5)
Tires 255/50R19 Continental Conti Cross Contact (275/40R20 Continental Conti 4x4 Sport Contact)
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy, combined 18.5 (17.5)
Base price $56,750
Fully loaded (S/C) $69,750
Truck Trend Network


Land Rover Range Rover

Fair Market Price
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $83,495
Mileage: 17 / 23
Engine: 3.0L V6
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