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Oman motoring: Range Rover at the head of all terrain pack
September 25, 2016 | 7:36 PM
by Syed Haitham Hasan
 
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For nearly fifty years, beauty and brains have kept Range Rover at the head of the all-terrain pack.

From the affordable Sport to the powerful Holland & Holland, Range Rover is the benchmark of SUV luxury, setting itself apart from the rest with a total monarchy over every terrain. From slick tarmac to hostile dunes, it conquers all, with comfort. But, I myself had never had the pleasure to drive one. So, when I had the opportunity to take the iconic Rover for ascent through Jebel Akhdar, the tallest mountain range in Oman, I jumped at the chance.

From the moment I picked up the vehicle from the showroom, I was smitten. From the aggressive xenon head lamps to the sleek body to the striking rear LED lamps, the Range Rover exterior is a picture of chic, sophisticated, sporty, power.



Slipping inside, I found that beauty wasn’t skin deep, filled with a comfortable amalgam of leather seats, tech savvy interior, and user friendly infotainment.

The initial love-sick appeal nearly made me forget that I was given the vehicle in the most testing circumstances.



Remember the “drum test” during the driving exam? The nightmare of reversing past those strategically placed drums? My test drive began with a similar obstacle course in which I had to reverse my green-plated Range Rover through a path of curving concrete walls to exit the dealership, all the while with a showroom manager witnessing my nervous driving skills for the entire 50 metres.

That nerve-wracking experience that was the first of many that made me see just how awesome the Range Rover actually is. Even with its sophisticated tech, the car feels human and the driver is in absolute control of the vehicle. The cameras did what they were supposed to, acting as my eyes outside the car. The sensors beeped only when they had to. The efficiency was such that I didn’t glance at the mirrors even once. A 50m curving pathway reverse in this full-sized SUV was easier than similar courses I have taken in much smaller vehicles.

The Highway Drive

Out on the open road, Range Rover Sport drives as comfortably as a German sedan, while packing enough power to rocket past most of the sportier, lighter cars on the road. The exhaust orchestra is a thing of beauty, and the throttle response is admirable, with zero delay and no jerks. Floor the pedal and the suspensions absorb the inertia in such a way that you know the vehicle is racing, but you feel nothing but cloud-like lightness.

The Handling

Leaving behind Birkat Al Mouz, the area where the astounding climb to Jebel Akhdar begins, I was greeted with steep ascends and steeper corners. Range Rover’s ability to manoeuvre at high speeds, was just brilliant. The receptivity of the steering was tangible — the steering response inch-perfect with zero lag with excellent vehicle dynamic characteristics.

The Off-Road Experience

The Range Rover performed exceptionally well on the road, but it was time for the real challenge, summiting a hill, well off the beaten path. I was at last able to test out the famous Terrain Response System. I set it into Auto after being unable to determine the Terrain response I needed from the car to counter the jagged, uneven pathway to the top. Before I could pity the Rover for the atrocities I was putting it through, the testing conditions worsened as a slight, exhilarating drizzle of rain turned into a full-fledged storm. As the RPM nicked 6k, the torque kicked into the game and I was through on the most gravelly hill climb ever. Even with a maximum concentration on driving, I couldn’t help noticing, the vehicle was still perfectly comfortable. The rain may have made the terrain tougher to climb but the Range Rover showed little strain. The manoeuvring was in complete control. The steep hills and harsh terrain seemed so easy to take when on the driver’s seat. Reaching the summit of the hill, the Range Rover growled to a stop. It had exceeded every one of my expectations, on the flat road and off road. All that was left to test was its performance downhill driving.

The Decent

With hill descend, downhill drive was effortless. Apart from getting too slow on certain occasions, the downhill mode was smooth and ordinary, even on extreme grades and loose surfaces.

Verdict

Few questions can be raised on the ability of Range Rover to conquer every terrain with its dextrously engineered vehicles. With power, comfort, luxury, performance, and, most of all, the intuitive human touch, it is safe to say that the Range Rover Sport is still one of the best all-terrain vehicles on the road, with few, able to match it. All hail, the all-terrain champion.

[email protected]

Specifications

3000cc V6 Supercharged Engine

4WD-Terrain Response

Max Power: 340bhp @ 6500rpm

Max Torque: 450Nm @3500-5500rpm

Driver & Passenger Electric Front Seats

8 Speed Auto Transmission with Paddle Shift

Five Surround Camera

Dual View Touch Screen

Blind Spot/ Reverse Traffic Detection

21” Alloy Wheels

Oman Authorised Dealer

Mohsin Haider Darwish,

Azaiba

Automotive Division

+968 2452 3200

[email protected]

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