2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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By Bob McHugh
Photos: Russell Purcell

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The Range Rover Sport possesses some unique and very pleasing attributes and has a classy aura that sets it apart from the crowd, but I also found it a little confusing.

To start with, it’s not really a “sport” version of the full-sized Range Rover. The Range Rover Sport is fundamentally a different vehicle that’s lower, has a shorter wheelbase and is built on the Land Rover LR3 platform.

It does have an incredible air suspension system, an active roll bar system and a unique multi-mode four-wheel-drive system, called Terrain Response. It has all the tools for a rugged off-road trek into the wilderness, but look – it’s wearing running shoes, or the auto equivalent, with its sport wheels and low-profile performance tires.

Range Rover Sport comes in two versions, the HSE ($77,800) and the Supercharged ($93,800). The HSE trim comes with a 300 hp, 4.4-litre V8; the Supercharged’s 4.2-litre V8 version, an engine unavailable in the LR3, can churn out 390 hp.

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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So, price- and equipment-wise, The Sport nicely fills the gap between the LR3 ($53,900) and Range Rover ($99,900). It borrows from both, offering sleeker styling in a package that’s happier on paved roads.

The level of interior appointments and features is impressive. In addition to the stuff you’d expect in a luxury vehicle, the HSE trim comes with dual-zone climate control, “killer” 13-speaker surround-sound audio system, navigation system with voice recognition, touch-screen LCD display, heated windshield and washer jets, and front and rear park assist system.

The Supercharged trim adds an upgraded leather interior package with genuine wood trim accents and a refrigerated centre console storage box.

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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In addition to the big-power engine, the extra mechanical features include Brembo brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels and the Dynamic Response System, which actively counteracts cornering forces by adjusting the stabilizer bars.

A six-speed CommandShift automatic transmission is a new addition to the Land Rover this year. My Supercharged tester came with an optional rear-seat entertainment system ($3,450) with screens integrated into the rear of both front seat head restraints. Adaptive cruise control ($2,800) is also available.

The Looks

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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From a distance you could mistake the Sport for the top-line Range Rover, but side-by-side the differences are clearer. Its dimensions are trimmer and the Range Rover Sport is the more attractive one, to my eyes. Apparently it’s the most aerodynamic Land Rover ever – a dubious accolade, of course.

The Sport’s wheelbase is shorter by about 13 cm and has more steeply-raked glass front and rear, but otherwise, it resembles the Range Rover. Blacked-out roof pillars also give it Land Rover’s trademark “floating roof” look.

The Inside

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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The test Sport was painted silver and had a black leather interior with brushed aluminum and wood panel trim inserts. I had no problem finding a comfortable driving position, but the manually-adjusted tilt and telescopic steering column was a surprise, since I expected power-adjust in this price bracket.

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
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The instrument panel had four analog gauges and two digital readouts. The speedometer numerals are quite small and a little hard to read. I’m six feet tall and found that the rear seat room was barely adequate; the seatbacks are low and the incline angle too upright, and it’s not a seat I’d want to spend a lot of time in.

Safety Equipment

The design of the rear seats and head restraints created child seat fitment issues during a check by the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation. The Child Restraint Technician said the instructions in the owner’s manual were generally vague and confusing; it stated that only the outboard rear seats had LATCH (or LUAS, Lower Universal Anchorage System in Canada) attachments for child seats, but in fact, the centre rear seat also had the LATCH and tether attachments. The centre seat is also the preferred and generally safest position in a vehicle for a child seat. The technician also found the tether usage information was a bit confusing, and could be misinterpreted.

The Drive

It was cold, darn cold, that first morning I went out to scrape the ice off the Sport. As is my practice, I turn everything on and work my way around the vehicle, leaving the windshield till last. If I’m lucky, by then, the defogger has un-glued the wipers. This time, the entire windshield was completely clear; I loved the electrically-heated windshield.

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged

2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Click image to enlarge

There’s also a lot to like when you take to the road, as the high seating position makes for good visibility down the highway and yes, you do feel safer. Considering its size, I was very impressed at its agility and an amazingly tight turning circle. Manoeuvring into a parking sport was much easier than I expected and the front and rear proximity warning sensors made it even easier.

The supercharged V8 has great power and gobs of torque – this is the fastest production vehicle ever built by Land Rover. Not surprisingly, there’s a Jaguar connection to this engine (and the 4.4-litre too). My only complaint is that it likes fuel, a lot. Too bad the diesel option in the U.K. is not sold here.

The air suspension automatically lowers the suspension for entry/exits and at highway speeds to lessen drag. The really cool part is when you make a quick turn, or better yet, push the Sport on a quiet twisty road. The active suspension components work their magic and the super-stable Sport appears to defy the body-lean laws of physics in corners. It’s easy to forget that you’re actually driving an SUV, which may not be a good thing.

Other cool stuff in a Sport includes the electric park brake, which is a finger operable switch, instead of the pull lever; Hill Descent Control, which automatically applies braking on steep hills and is very useful off-road; Terrain Response, a system that offers four suspension and drive settings for different off-road conditions; and a navigational system with both on- and off-road mapping features.

The Score

A smaller, more agile Range Rover, the Sport is a sophisticated and delightfully complex contraption that may be a little hard to understand, but even harder to resist.

The Competition

  • Cadillac Escalade: $78,030 – $98,710
  • Infiniti QX56: $77,900
  • Lexus GX470: $68,100
  • Lincoln Navigator: $75,899
  • Porsche Cayenne: $60,000 – $126,900

    Technical Data: 2006 Range Rover Sport Supercharged

    Base price $93,800
    Options $3,450 (Rear entertainment system)
    Freight $995
    A/C tax $100
    Price as tested $98,345 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
    Type 4-door, 5-passenger full-size SUV
    Layout Longitudinal front engine/four-wheel drive
    Engine 4.2-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves, supercharged
    Horsepower 390 @ 5750 rpm
    Torque 410 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
    Transmission 6-speed automatic
    Tires P275/40R20
    Curb weight 2572 kg (5671 lbs)
    Wheelbase 2745 mm (108.0 in.)
    Length 4788 mm (188.5 in.)
    Width 2170 mm (85.4 in.)
    Height 1817 mm (71.5 in.)
    Ground clearance 172 mm (6.8 in.)
    Cargo capacity 2013 litres (71 cu. ft.)(seats down)
    Fuel consumption City: 18.1 L/100 km (15 mpg Imp)
      Hwy: 11.8 L/100 km (23 mpg Imp)
    Warranty 4 yrs/80,000 km
    Powertrain Warranty 4 yrs/80,000 km
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