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      11-12-2012, 06:28 PM   #1
Palmnuts
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Drives: Merc SLS AMG & ML63 AMG
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Range Rover Sport update....and what's next?

Unless my memory is on it's way out, I don't think I've ever got round to giving an update on my (well, the missus's really.....but it's mine ) RRS. In fact, I don't think I've said much on it at all so after giving it a good going over yesterday, I thought I'd take a few pics, discuss it's positives and negatives and see where it leads me.....


Firstly, for the record, this car is probably one of the most impressive feats of engineering for the way it can handle some really crazy stuff (such as this) which I have not experienced personally and yet drive so bloody well on the road.

Make your own judgement on the looks of the car but it's OK and I reckon my facelift example looks much better than the early versions. Funny that, as the changes are only details.....lights, grills, wheels etc....yet such simple changes made it look so much nicer. It certainly attracts attention, probably as much to do with the colour but, rather like when I had my Porsche, it's often the type of attention where people immediately think you're a c*nt. It's about the right car for me then

Also subject to personal opinion is how it looks in it's various height modes - some people like them slammed such as when it's in 'access height' but I'm not a fan. Unfortunately, I didn't take one picture of it on it's normal height setting so the pics below show it at it's two extremes (although reading the handbook, it apparently has an emergency extra high setting when it detects it has grounded out and even then, it has ANOTHER height ABOVE this if it deems needs it. I wonder how high this car goes....it's already like driving a first floor apartment (in more ways than one...it also has double glazing and deep pile carpets!).













Inside, the seats are great and the driving position is almost car-like (I drove to Paris in it in one hit on a Friday night after work and didn't feel a thing, except tired, at the end of it) and the leather they use is of the smooth Nappa variety - they all seem to have contrast stitching and whilst I'd have preferred a tan/cream leather interior, the black with white stitching looks classy. The Sport has a really high centre console so do feel cocooned in it rather than feeling like you're sat high up (which inevitably, you are)....it creates a great illusion in that respect and you can see it in some of the below interior shots.

What isn't so good is the touch screen telematics system which is poorly integrated into the car (i.e. it does very little outside nav and audio although it does have a neat 4x4 display showing whats happening underneath), has a really, REALLY dated display (although 3D graphics is a step up on my XKR...it's an area JLR are eel behind the curve on) and, well, it's all just...CRAP. The standard Harman Kardon stereo is good (they do an upgraded one which mine doesn't have) if not up to the standard of my Bowers and Wilkins in the Jaaaaaaaaag. The final dislike on the interior is that it's a bit, erm......creaky. Now, this would normally be a big NO-NO for me (cars have been disposed of for less ) but, rather oddly, it doesn't really creak or rattle when driving. But, if you prod and pull on the various dash plastics (as someone with OCD would do!) the volume and type of creaking you can induce sounds like it should be a big creak fest when on the move! I'm just thankful it isn't













So, what's it like on the road?

Surreal is the only word I can say. How else do you explain that when I got my XKR-S, I actually thought it produced a smidge more body roll than the RRS! When you're sat that high up, you expect to pitch into a corner and brace yourself for the body roll, but it just doesn't happen. It has some crazy suspension design which uses hydraulic rams to keep the body level and by God does it work - it just does not roll.

Sure, the weight of the car pushes it on in corners but it feels so stable and secure at 7/10th's. At 10/10th's....well, it just isn't designed for that is it?!?! Most amusing is a how it performs on a bumpy back road - not only do you have excellent visibility from driving a skyscraper, but it rides so well at speed and controls it's body movements so well, you can really piss off some hot hatches as they buck and weave everywhere. Power to weight ratio aside, you guys in run-flat shod BMW's ain't got a chance

Interestingly, I read somewhere that the suspension design is very similar, and possibly even licensed from, the suspension design in the rare mid-90's Citroen Xantia Activa....another car with apparently zero roll. However, that car had hydraulic suspension, the RRS is air suspension and this can create some unique characteristics....at low speeds, it can feel rather truck-like as it take on a pogoing motion. Speed bumps though....I at these as people who install them clearly haven't considered the Range Rover which basically flattens them! Another unique characteristic is the release of air pressure which is just like you'd hear from a truck or bus!

Heres one of the big air reservoirs that exist instead of normal springs.....





Performance isn't too bad as it has 450'ish of torques so once rolling, I never feel like it needs much more (OK, that's a lie). Off the mark it can feel a bit lethergic and the ZF 6-speeder is way behind the 8-speed boxes they fit in the latest JLR products (my XKR-S not being one of them ).

This car is a feat of engineering....but not because of it's inherent design as the weight of it highlights that LR could have done so much better in this respect (and the new RR indicates what they really can do). No, it's how they've engineered the rest of the car around the problem of weight and how it deals with it so, if the new RR drives like this AND weighs 20% less, its should be be amazing.


Problems?

Not many by my standards (maybe I'm becoming more tolerant?) but I've had to have the ARB bushes replaced already as they started to clonk - it's a known RRS problem as they have to put up with such extreme forces as they hold this near-as-dammit 3-tonne car resolutely flat in bends. Did I say....it doesn't roll

Otherwise, I'm on my 3rd set of wipers in 4 months as they jump all over the screen after they're a few days old....apparently I need a new and correctly 'adjusted' wiper arm which is being done under warranty. As is the rocking drivers chair and driveline shunt from the transmission....all known characteristics that LR have fixes for.

The last probelm unfortunately can't be fixed and leads me neatly onto my next subject. Economy.....yes, I can hear the s******s of 'what else did he expect'. Well, I expect something close to the claimed 32mpg combined figure on a motorway cruise but, no....I average 25-27mpg which actually makes it more expensive to fuel than my V8 petrol XKR (once you take into account the variance in fuel cost).

And that isn't great when the purpose of it was to be my commuting car and I'm currently in a quandary on what to do.....I really like the RRS, I can afford to run it but it just grates everytime I put £120 of fuel in it and get a maximum of 440 miles. I also know that I have lost little, if anything on depreciation....despite adding 7k miles to it in 4 months (!), even WBAC are offering just £1.8k less than I paid for it. Financially, trading this in would be easy with a capital E!




Then....this came along







No, I'm not about to swap the RRS for a limo but, last week, I went to my dealer to arrange for them to fit my new Alcantara steering wheel in the Jag

Whilst there, I was moaning at the economy of the RRS to the sales director and mentioned how I liked the looks of the new XJ (OK, I'm waiting for the piss takes on this one but, compared to a 7 or S-class, it's almost futuristic!).

Cue the sales director spotting jumping on the opportunity to put me in another one of his cars and offering me the option to take his XJ L (note the 'L') for a week and see what I think. And cue me, nearly a week later on, being Über impressed with yet another one of JLR's finest and saving myself a fortune in fuel in the process. Trips to London where I average 27mpg at best in the RRS saw 43mpg in the XJ despite it having a more powerful version of the same engine!

The XJ drives like pretty much every other modern Jaguar.....a properly sorted but firm ride, great body control and roll-free handling. It isn't, and doesn't feel like a heavy car....it has a character that's very much like a (physically very big) sports car that also happens to be the quietest car I've yet experienced.

Inside....well, judge for yourself. Personally, I love the design which despite having some wood is very modern, flowing and cohesive. The material quality is right up there but, and this is the one and only disappointment, it still doesn't feel like it has quite the Germanic solidity. Theres nothing much wrong on the move (bar a squeaky seat) but like my RRS, you prod some of the bits and they make a creaking noise. This limo version has all the toys including some cool rear seat entertainment functionality, and a Meridian sound system which is simply RUDE. If this car is aimed at the nearly-dead then, when they crank up that audio system, they'll have a heart attack and be 6ft under in seconds. I did wonder why JLR have ditched Bowers and Wilkins for Meridian but on listening to it, I do wonder how much better in-car audio needs to get?














All in all, sat in this car gives a really strong feel-good sensation as it's such a special place to be and it's simply just a wonderful (and cheap!) car to whack the miles on. It's an infinitely better car than the RRS in almost every way, bar possibly image (contentious that one), residuals and off-road ability. I would happily have a SWB version to replace the RRS and at a little over £30k for an 18m old example, it's lost 60% of it's value. Yet theres that nagging feeling that no matter how good it is, and no matter how much the financials back it up, I also really do like the RRS. Life.....it can be tough at time
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Andrew
Current: '11 Merc SLS AMG | '12 Merc ML63 AMG
Previous: '14 BMW M3 | '13 BMW M6 Comp Pack | '11 Merc SLS AMG | '12 Jag XKR-S | '11 Range Rover Sport TDV6 | '10 Jag XFR | '11 BMW M3 DCT | '08 Maserati Granturismo S | '10 Porsche 911 Turbo | '10 Merc C63 AMG PPP | '09 Merc C63 AMG PP | '06 BMW M6 | '08 BMW M3 | '07 BMW 335i | '04 Alfa 147 GTA + Many others