IN an age where everything seems to be getting more compact, Land Rover has bucked the trend by launching its latest Range Rover Sport model powered by a straight six-cylinder petrol engine.
But unlike the V6 engines, which will gradually be phased out, this all-new Ingenium powertrain called the P400, is made from aluminium and that makes it lighter.
It's also far more efficient - there is an electric supercharger powered by a 48-volt system to combat any turbo lag and finally it incorporates mild hybrid technology. And that is a far cry from the gas-guzzling V6 units we have come to love over the years.
This all-new engine is exclusive to the Range Rover Sport HST model which is priced from £81,250 and that trim level also boasts some design cues that are unique to the car. For example, there is carbon fibre trim on the bonnet, front grille, side vents and tailgate along with bespoke badging.
Customers can also choose from two alloy wheel designs and five exterior colours. Our car came in Fuji White solid paint and this was perfectly complemented by the 21-inch, nine-spoke gloss black wheels with red brake callipers.
Move inside and the cabin oozes quality and once again there are some unique fixtures and fittings that are HST-styled. The front seats have 16-way power adjustment and there is suede-cloth detailing on the steering wheel and gear lever. The gear shift paddles are finished in satin chrome and there is HST badging once more.
The car starts up with quite a roar, but then settles down for calmer day-to-day chores. But when the mood takes you that straight six engine certainly delivers thanks to 400hp and 550Nm of torque.
That translates into a 0-60mph sprint time of just 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. According to official figures, the Range Rover Sport HST can achieve combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 209g/km.
This is a car that can easily cope with the sensible stuff such as the school run, but then can be cut loose for a little more excitement.
Out on the twisting country lanes, it is perfectly balanced and feels completely composed into bends with excellent road holding and minimum body sway. It effortlessly eats up the motorway miles and then, in town centres, it is agile enough to weave through the traffic. The high-seated driving position results in superb all-round visibility which is another plus point.
There is a wealth of technology at your disposal and it's great to see Land Rover has made full smartphone integration a possibility via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Meridian sound system, head-up display, 360-degree parking aid, sat nav, stunning Touch Pro Duo infotainment screens and plenty more besides.
All occupants are treated to oodles of space and the cabin feels very upmarket with light flooding in through the large windows and fixed panoramic roof.
Storage options also impress with a boot capacity of 522 litres that can be increased to 1,686 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The powered, gesture tailgate is also very handy when approaching the car laden down with shopping bags and there are a number of storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin.
Clearly this high-end version of the Range Rover Sport is not exactly cheap with a starting price of £81,250. A number of extras on our car saw that final cost creep up to £89,455.
The Range Rover Sport gained the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and boasts the likes of dynamic stability control, low traction launch, electronic traction control, cornering brake control, hill descent control, trailer stability assist, lane departure warning, emergency brake assist and a full suite of airbags.
An optional Driver Assist Pack, costing £3,330 added park assist, clear exit and rear traffic monitor, blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, a driver condition monitor, high speed emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter.