The new Range Rover Td6 and Range Rover Sport Td6 prepare to conquer a different kind of hostile environment.
Last autumn, right on schedule, diesel versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport rolled into US dealerships — the first time Land Rover had offered a diesel in North America. About that same time, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that Volkswagen’s vaunted TDI diesel technology had been a serial cheater in emissions tests, releasing as much as 40 times the stated nitrogen oxide emissions during daily driving. For diesel sales, the atmosphere become NOx-ious, as we would have put it were we a New York City tabloid newspaper.
But spend a few hours behind the wheel of a 2016 Range Rover Td6 or the smaller Range Rover Sport Td6 — their engines purring like overfed tabby cats — and you’ll begin to long for life in the diesel lane.
We can gloss over the interior refinements of both Range Rovers; their creature comforts are legendary, though still delightful each time you slip into the cabin, the vehicle easing your entry by automatically dropping two inches. With the Td6, that air of refinement is the sound of silence; there’s no characteristic diesel knock, and the firewall, engine mounts and windshield are so well insulated and isolated, you’ll forget there’s an engine in front of you at all.
That is, until you step on the accelerator. The 3-litre turbocharged V6 delivers 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque — a mere 18lb-ft less than Land Rover’s brutish 5-liter supercharged V8. And peak torque is achieved at a mere 1750rpm, making the diesel-powered Range Rover and Range Rover Sport surprisingly quick. The trip from zero to 60mph takes 7.4 and 7.1 seconds, respectively. At higher RPMs, the verve fades a bit, so you’ll have to carefully consider passing on tight mountain curves at highway speed. It is at those highway speeds that diesels are most efficient, which for the Range Rover Td6 in the US cycle translates to 28 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined (the standard gasoline engine, a 3-liter supercharged V6, returns 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined). Crusing range is an astonishing 658 miles — far enough that you’ll forget what color the diesel pump handles are. (Fortunately, Land Rover has equipped its diesels with a mis fueling protection device to prevent accidental petrol contamination.)
No surprise, Land Rover is quick to note that for a diesel engine, the Td6 is admirably clean. A low-pressure exhaust-gas recirculation system reduces the volume of toxic gasses produced during combustion, and exhaust-gas urea injection breaks down NOx emissions into harmless nitrogen and water.
For all the marketing of cleanliness, however, the diesel Range Rovers — like all Range Rovers — are most pleasing when you’re getting them dirty. In light of recent scandals, one worries that the one place these diesels won’t travel is away from dealer’s lots. But Land Rover is no stranger to unfriendly environs, and if the Td6s are any indication, diesel’s recently tarnished reputation is just one more obstacle the marque will overcome.