SnowsBest takes a Range Rover Sport for a ten day snow spin and hides the keys.
For $135 000 you could buy a studio apartment in downtown Adelaide, a two bedroom knock down freestanding house in Launceston Tasmania, eight acres on a private tropical white beach in Tonga (with dollars left over to build a kit home) or, like me, you could get behind the wheel of a Range Rover Sport with all the trimmings.
Ok, I eventually had to hand the keys back but for nine days in the peak of winter this baby was mine, all mine.
Luxury is often wasted on the wealthy. By the time you can afford the muted neutral hues that come with true wealth (the same hues that line the dashboards of Range Rovers worldwide) you have already been lulled by the impeccable service, fine dining and gold plated life that comes with your black Amex.
Not for me this economical numbness. My attention deficit disorder and aspirational obsession doesn’t know what to get excited over first, the barista lattes, chilled spring water or white leather couches at Concord Land Rover.
I almost pass out from excitement at the blacked out ‘reveal’ room where the wearied by wealth receive their freshly purchased beast patiently waiting under a black silk sheet, lit from every angle to show off the shine when the sheet is whisked away like a matador with a cape.
Ah, the theatre, it gets me every time.
The mechanical minded will need to know the Range Rover Sport we picked up on loan from Concord was a 3.0L SDV6 engine running on 215kW at 4000rpm with a torque of 600Nm at 2000 rpm. She goes 0-100 km/h in 7.2s with a CO2 emission of 199 g/km and combined fuel consumption of 7.5 L/100km.
All I hear is blah blah blah Range Rover blah blah blah shiny blah blah blah 0-100.
Those of us who prefer how something feels (thanks to what’s under the hood) will be pleased to know that all this tech talk means the girl has got some guts and those guts took us from Concord in Sydney to Avalon Beach to Lake Crackenback to Jindabyne on one tank of diesel fuel. It then took us from Jindabyne to Falls Creek return on another.
The Rangey (as she became known) drives on air, literally, with an adjustable air suspension. If you keep it locked then it will stay low, making it easier to get in and out of the beast as the car literally lowers closer to the ground. A bonus if, like me and my fellow road tripper, you are vertically challenged. Once the car then hits 20km/hour it will automatically raise to full air suspension.
The LED white xenon headlights are very sexy if you’re on the outside looking in (which is not where you want to be) and throw a cool and expansive light upon the bitumen below if you are lucky enough to be behind the steering wheel.
I loved the automatic light system, my fellow road tripper preferred the lights to be on manual. I am clearly lazier than she as I loved the idea that the car detected if there were other cars in front or any others driving towards us on the other side of the road. If there were none then bam, the Rangey would illuminate her expansive light on high beam and when a car appeared would automatically dull her shine to normal.
Speaking of light. There is one element of the Range Rover Sport that sung to the theatrical Leo within me. A spotlight.
Not just any spotlight either. One on either side of the passenger and driver door. When remotely unlocked after dark the Range Rover throws a spotlight from beneath each side mirror to create a perfect circle that any would-be performer would be happy to step into.
The words Range Rover are also thrown into the middle of the enlightened circle, though I think there should be an option to have whatever words you so desire. “Welcome aboard; hiya gorgeous; where to next; safe travels; did you lock the front door” would work for some, well, ok, me.
In contrast the spacious interior is understated in that British not too brash royal style. The leather dashboard, electric seats, touch tap lights and accentuated leather trim ooze class (I realise that phrase alone shows I don’t).
There’s a sat nav that does take some negotiating. Took us a while to realise search was done via state not national and there was an awkward moment when the bluetooth sound system was competing with the audio sat nav that got stuck on one phrase as though rapping to the Bliss n Eso track that was playing.
The sat nav screen doubles as a DVD should your passenger choose to tune you out and watch a movie on the drive. You can then split the screen and have the sat nav on one side and the movie on the other.
There’s a rear view camera for nifty parking and an obstacle detection system to warn you when the front, sides or back of the car are getting a little too close to stationary objects for comfort. Considering you can’t always see over the front when heading down a steep incline this is a good thing.
Being on the larger side the beast does have some blind spots. You can upgrade to a blind spot monitor or use the uber fancy heated side mirrors (they are the ones that throw the spotlight out after dark) to their best advantage. At the moment you can no longer see the approaching car behind you it will be picked up by the expansive mirrors and you can almost guarantee if it is not in either then it has been abducted by aliens.
The adaptive cruise control practically does the driving for you with a pre-set gap with the vehicle ahead. They slow down, you slow down. Handy on the open road motorways from Sydney to the snowy mountains.
To be honest there are so many elements to the Range Rover Sport that we still didn’t discover over our nine days. The voice activated computer gave us a kick for a couple of days (she responds best when putting on a British accent) and I am told there is a Parking Exit that automatically manoeuvres the vehicle out of tight spaces.
We didn’t take the beast off road but the traction control options for on road are many from gravel to snow to boulders and beyond. We kept the car on automatic traction so it detected the environment and adapted appropriately. Again, I’m lazy.
She handled the corners of the famed winding Alpine Way from Thredbo to Khancoban with no distress, laughed in the face of snow laden forests, was tempted to divert into the pristine streams and rivers (she is an off road vehicle after all) and held her head high while climbing S bend altitude from Mt Beauty to Falls Creek.
Do be warned though, ensure you have the appropriate diesel fuel additive for sub zero temperatures. We foolishly assumed the Range Rover would have done this for us, after all she did everything else bar making us a latte.
Our intended quick getaway home turned into a few hour wait when outside temperatures were minus seven degrees celcius at 9.00am and the diesel line froze. Nothing to do but wait for the sun to do her stuff before we could get our princess back on the road where she clearly belongs.
What’s the verdict?
In a world filled with SUVs and an area filled with European ones (the Snowy Mountains in August) the Range Rover Sport stands her ground with a classic style suited to those with a hefty bank account who like heritage mixed with serious creature comfort and driving on air.
It is the car you drive when you want to say I have arrived and always knew I would without shouting it from the mountain tops.
Read more: A review of the Hyundai iX35
Land Rover Jaguar provided Rachael Oakes-Ash with a Range Rover Sport test drive vehicle