By Mike Torpey on 2017-03-11 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Range Rover Sport
SDV6 HSE Dynamic
IT'S the combination with compelling appeal - a streamlined dream machine with the pace and handling of a sports car, yet capable of traversing a raging boulder-pocked river.
Add the vision and security afforded by a full-blown 4x4, plus a generous helping of luxury, and the choice comes down to a handful of premium SUVs.
Top of the list remains the Range Rover Sport, now even more desirable thanks to the option of seven seats.
Sitting just beneath the classic Range Rover in the Land Rover stable of thoroughbreds, the Sport maximises both its performance and economy thanks to its aluminium construction.
And like its range-topping sibling it comes with a choice of powerful petrol and diesel engines including, at either end of the scale, a 2.0-litre SD4 oil-burner and brutal 550PS 5.0-litre V8.
While there's now also a diesel electric hybrid model, the tested 3.0 SDV6 in mid-level HSE Dynamic trim is a smart pick and sensible all-rounder.
The punch from 306bhp of wallop is there when you want it and providing the car is considerately driven, you should be able to return an average fuel figure in the low 30s (though the official number is 40.4 Combined).
But where the Sport really scores is in the way it performs in everyday urban conditions - it's agile, surprisingly manoeuvrable for its size, smooth and quiet.
Need to negotiate some country lanes in a hurry and the traction is absolutely dependable and the ride refined.
Move inside and the cabin oozes leather-clad quality and dark wood veneer, dominated by a touchscreen with 10-inch display and tablet-style pinch and zoom capability.
Passenger space is substantial for four, though the centre rear seating position is both hard and perched, and the boot is cavernous.
Pop up the pair of third row seats, which are beautifully made but realistically only for occasional use - and kids - and that luggage space is compromised.
Otherwise travelling in the Range Rover Sport equals travelling in style - and should you wish to venture off-road there are few places off limits.
That's down to 21-inch alloy wheels with huge ground clearance, four wheel drive, hill descent control and the full suite of terrain response settings for rocks, mud, sand and snow - all selected via a dial next to the gear lever.
In fact with a ride height that can be increased from 213mm to 277mm, it will make light work of the most inhospitable conditions.
Standard kit on even the entry grade HSE models is comprehensive and includes sat-nav, heated front and rear seats, DAB radio, a reversing camera and enough hardware to launch a space rocket.
But options can ramp up the price considerably and on the model driven here there were enough to raise the tab to £80,425.
: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Dynamic
Mechanical: 306bhp, 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel engine driving four wheels via eight-speed automatic transmission
Max Speed: 138mph
0-62mph: 6.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 40.4
Insurance Group: 185g/km
C02 emissions: 37%
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