Has been in production since May 2013, yet L494 Range Rover Sport still looks contemporary

Has been in production since May 2013, yet L494 Range Rover Sport still looks contemporary

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Is JLR's Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine up to the task of powering 2.1+ tonnes of Range Rover Sport? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is not only a definite yes but if the other V6 and V8 options did not exist, this could well be all the RRS that anyone needs.

While there isn't much in it - just four kilowatts or five horsepower - the output of the Ingenium exceeds that of Volvo's Drive-E.

Five hundred Newton metres. That is the torque output of the four-cylinder diesel which Land Rover added to the Range Rover Sport for the 2017 model year. Volvo's Drive-E unit has almost the same capacity and produces only 20Nm less (and 173kW/235PS of power) yet somehow seeing that figure of 500Nm and knowing that it comes from a 2.0-litre engine still shocks. JLR's Ingenium diesel delivers its maximum twist effort at only 1,500rpm, while the Volvo unit needs 1,750rpm to produce its 480Nm. And while there isn't much in it - just four kilowatts or five horsepower, the output of the Ingenium exceeds that of the Drive-E.

This engine is going to be increasingly important for JLR as the company adds it to various existing models and future ones too. In the Range Rover Sport line-up, it now serves as the base diesel and so far at least, there is no availability in the Range Rover. Perhaps Land Rover decided to delay its application in that model until the facelifted line-up goes on sale. That should be either later this year or early in 2018.

Let's take a look at the new diesel, which in the RRS is called SD4 and is linked to ZF's 8HP45 eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. As an aside, the same unit is also available in the Discovery Sport, Evoque and Discovery and wears the SD4 badge too. Yet in the Velar, it's called D240.

BorgWarner's R2S two-stage turbos

JLR developed the 177kW/240HP 1,999cc SD4/D240 Ingenium diesel with the intention of fitting it with BorgWarner turbochargers. The supplier terms its two-stage turbo unit an R2S. Included is a water-cooled compressor housing and two series-connected turbochargers. These are different sizes, the idea being to deliver high boost pressures and smooth power, whatever the engine rev range.

One of the R2S' turbos has variable turbine geometry (VTG) technology, which is needed for the high-pressure stage. This is combined with a larger B03 water-cooled compressor which BorgWarner says was optimised for low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation. Controlled by an electric actuator, the VTG turbocharger is claimed to respond quickly at low engine speeds, resulting in a rapid rise in boost pressure for close to instant acceleration.

As engine speed increases, a bypass gradually redirects exhaust gases towards the larger, low-pressure turbocharger.

BW notes that as engine speed increases, a bypass gradually redirects exhaust gases towards the larger, low-pressure turbocharger. Little by little, B03 takes over, the principle here also being the lowest possible emissions as well as smooth power and torque delivery.

So much for the theory and BorgWarner's claims. What's the engine like in this big, heavy SUV? Well, as stated in the introduction, you would truly struggle to believe that a small capacity four-cylinder engine powers the newest entry-level version of the Range Rover Sport. Even when cold and starting off up the steep-ish slope on the exit to my home, lag is...non existent. There's also very little diesel rattle, no smoke and no vibrations through the steering wheel or pedals.

Truly, this new engine does make you wonder if there is a need for the SDV6 and SDV8 diesels, although if you do like a lot of performance, these 3.0-litre V6 and 4.4-litre V8 diesels do offer strong, added appeal.

Showing its age yet?

The rest of the Range Rover Sport in unchanged since I last drove one so that means great handling, a supple ride, loads of space for five people and some additional room if you occasionally have need to put smaller people in a third seating row. Land Rover has always been honest enough to call the RRS a 5+2 and that's an accurate summation.

UK Range Rover Sport sales for H1 came in at 6,642 units versus 6,829 for 1 January-30 June 2016.

Some might claim the interior could do with a refresh and perhaps having seen inside a Velar, yes, you could say that. Still, I'm fairly certain that the eventual mid-life changes will probably leave much of this big SUV's interior alone and not a lot needs updating. A thicker rim for the steering wheel would be a good thing but let's hope that Land Rover puts safety first and resists the questionable fashion for eliminating the A/C controls and making them virtual ones on a screen.

Some of us wonder if it's really progress when you need to take your eyes off the road and a hand off the steering wheel for far too many seconds. Porsche seems to be pursuing the middle path here, as the new Cayenne's interior loses the HVAC system's plastic switches/dials but retains their position on a centre console. That should please the minimalists but keep them easy to locate for the driver/passenger.

Sales: holding up well

That third generation Cayenne won't be in showrooms until March/April, which means Land Rover and its rivals in the Range Rover Sport-size and price class shouldn't take too hard a hit sales-wise for a while yet. If anything, the four-cylinder Sport will likely boost sales of the model overall. As at the first half of the year, it's holding up well in its home market, with UK deliveries coming in at 6,642 units versus 6,829 for 1 January-30 June 2016.

Should JLR's petrol Ingenium four-cylinder engine eventually become available in the RRS, that will give the vehicle an even better shot in the arm for the remainder of its life cycle, which will probably extend out to 2022. That's when L461, the third generation model is due to appear.

The new SD4 has lowered the point of entry to the Range Rover Sport line-up, with prices for this variant, which comes only in HSE trim, starting at GBP60,015. CO2 is 172g/km, Combined consumption is 45.6mpg, 0-62 mph takes 8.3 seconds and top speed is 128mph.