Range Rover Sport HSE

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THE Range Rover has to be one of the great British success stories.

As one of the great icons of modern times it’s a vehicle that is much feted - and much bought, writes Rob Auchterlonie..

And you don’t have to be an overpaid footballer or have blonde hair and a pair of Gucci sunglasses parked on the top of your head to own one.

You only have to glance at your average queue of traffic, as I did while stationary on the M25 the other day, to see how popular the Range Rover Sport is. They’re everywhere, the discerning choice of motorists who want to buy British because in this instance British is tub-thumpingly best.

It’s been praised the world over and if you think you’re going to read anything other than that here then you’re very much mistaken.

Of course, it’s not faultless. You can look at any car and there will always be something you can pick fault with, something that doesn’t quite ring true.

But the sum of the overall parts usually far outweighs any minus points. And that’s very definitely the case with Solihull’s finest.

For something capable of tackling terrain slightly more rugged than the A421 it’s a supremely comfortable vehicle. So much so that you could almost forgive George Michael dozing off behind the wheel. Actually, no you can’t. No one should be in charge of any form of motorised transport when they’re completely gazeboed on drugs or anything else. Not the sort of publicity Land Rover relish – they prefer the good stuff, like the announcement that the factories are safe, thousands of new jobs are to be created and that there’s widespread anticipation of the arrival of the baby Rangie, the new Evoque.

The Sport is the slightly stockier and snappier version of the full blown Range Rover, and while it might not quite appear to have the full blown ‘drive through the jungle’ credentials of its stablemates, there’s still a healthy 227mm of obstacle clearance and a 700mm wading depth when the river bank bursts. Or put another way, if you’re vertically challenged you’re going to need a hand up into the passenger seats.

From where you’ll be wafted to your destination amidst a classy mix of leather, wood, aluminium and a top notch sound system.

For the person in control (we won’t call him George in this instance) there are more buttons than on a big girl’s blouse when it comes to piloting the Sport, offering a setting for just about every conceivable road condition you might encounter.

Of course, a large number of owners will glance at them, panic and then reach forward to the touch screen to select their favourite music or the sat nav.

But it’s reassuring to know that there’s not a lot that can stop you reaching your destination in a Range Rover.

And when it comes to off road use, Land Rover sets the standard for others to follow, so on the latest models you get Hill Start Assist, which stops the car rolling backwards, and Gradient Acceleration Control.

There are two diesel engines to choose from, with either 211ps (520Nm) or 245ps (600Nm), both units being pretty refined and responsive when called upon. Throttle response is impressively quick and for a big vehicle the Sport still displays impressive on road poise.

This chunky car comes with an equally chunky key but you don’t need it – start up is via a push button on the dash. You just need to keep it in your pocket, or on the restaurant dining table for maximum impact.

AT A GLANCE

Range Rover Sport HSE

£53,995

3.0 V6 turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine

six speed automatic

Top speed 120mph

Fuel consumption: urban 25.2, extra urban 34.9, combined 30.7

CO2 243g/km