ROAD TEST: SUV meets limousine - the Range Rover Sport D300 HSE

On statistics alone, it sounds like a sports car: top speed 130mph, 0 to 60mph in under seven seconds and it comes resplendent with aluminium trim, push button starting and electronic air suspension, writes Steve Teale.

Range Rover Sport D300 HSE

A roadster, maybe? A sleek coupe? A meaty grand tourer perhaps?

It may surprise you to find this is actually a fairly bulky Range Rover, and one powered by diesel at that.

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The boffins at Land Rover - and at just about every other car producer - have spent years trying to make otherwise lethargic SUVs into premium racing cars.

This is SUV meets limousine and it really is a vehicle for all seasons.

The thing is, the people at Land Rover have somehow pulled it off.

This is quite simply a stunning piece of engineering. If you were so minded you could show young drivers in their go-faster hatches a thing or two at the traffic lights.

Not me. I value my licence - and my safety - too much for such games. But you could floor it and leave all and sundry in a cloud of dust.

The figures are astonishing really. I knew this was a diesel car - it said so on the fact sheet handily emailed by Jaguar Land Rover - but it felt and sounded like a petrol. I checked and rechecked before I filled it up.

It is expensive, but it is also beautifully presented and lavishly equipped.

It purrs and throbs like a petrol and is flexible and has plenty of power - 300bhp of it. Yet it will serenely meander if asked. Plus it has an electric motor to make it greener and more wallet-friendly.

The fact is, people want Range Rovers for many reasons - cachet is a big draw, as is the feeling that you will be much safer in this magnificent car.

Range Rovers are almost everyone's dream car, but some young guns - I still count myself in that category - maybe imagined such models to be too staid for them.

So the Sport was born, together with a never ending list of other derivatives.

The Sport is the most "dynamic" model from Land Rover. By that, they mean it is the sportiest and quickest. Yet it has a luxury limousine feel to it, too.

Inside, the cabin might be described as purposeful but there is an undeniable feeling of luxury too with the Touch Pro Duo "infotainment" centre one of the best on the road.

Land Rover say it is "a unique statement of performance with an assertive and powerful design" and it's hard to disagree.

Its sportiness is accentuated by the front, which is more aggressive than other models in the range.

I think it could be sportier in appearance. It could be differentiated from the standard Range Rovers, perhaps, but the decision seems to have been made to maintain the family appearance.

This is an HSE model, which means it is well equipped. First and foremost, it has a raft of systems to ensure this is a go-anywhere model in the best Land Rover traditions.

It is all-wheel-drive with features such as dynamic stability control, hill descent control and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has terrain response, an automatic system to ensure the car is in the right mode for the conditions.

You surely wouldn't want to take such a vehicle into the mountains, but it's good to know if you did the vehicle would cope.

The cabin is sumptuous with ambient lighting, chrome trim, huge stowage areas, climate control and a tailgate which opens with a gesture if your hands are full.

It has rear parking cameras which are useful for this is a big car and parking can be tricky.

It rides and handles beautifully, and cornering is sharper than expected. But despite all the trappings this is still a an SUV rather than a sports car so don't expect it to corner like a Jaguar.

There is a fabulous range of engines. I love the 3.0 litre diesel but there are even quicker versions including 5.0 litre V8 supercharged models.

It has strong performance is backed up by a fabulous drive that strikes a fine balance between dynamism and comfort. Range Rover Sport’s advanced all-wheel drive and air suspension both constantly adapt and respond to road conditions, providing driver feedback and involvement, while retaining the refinement that customers expect. Lightweight aluminium construction

is a key factor behind the Range Rover Sport’s agile handling and dynamic responses.

It is expensive, but it is also beautifully presented and lavishly equipped. This is SUV meets limousine and it really is a vehicle for all seasons.

...

Range Rover Sport D300 HSE

Price: £67,645 on the road.

Engine: A 3.0 litre diesel engine and hybrid electric motor

Power: 300bhp

Performance: Top speed 130mph and 0 to 60mph in 6.9 seconds

Transmission: Automatic

Economy: 34mpg average

Emissions: 218g/km

Warranty: Three years, unlimited miles