2022 Range Rover Sport D300 First Drive Review: Right Diesel, Wrong Time

I’ve done a lot of miles in diesel-powered Range Rover Sports. In 2016 I ran a handsome Montalcino Red Sport HSE Td6 with the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 under the hood as part of the MotorTrend test fleet. And I loved it. Sure, it was slower than the punchy 510-hp Sport V-8 Supercharged I’d previously had. But the Td6 was a lovely, long-legged cruiser, the torquey oil-burning V-6 growling as the Range Rover devoured the miles on road trips through California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. And it routinely returned 25 mpg or better on a long run.

Land Rover no longer offers diesel engines in any SUV in its U.S. lineup, not even in the chunky Defender. Jaguar Land Rover had committed heavily to diesel in the U.S. in a bid to reduce its overall fleet emissions—in 2015, JLR president and CEO Joe Eberhardt said every JLR vehicle other than the F-Type sports car would offer a diesel engine option by 2017—but the strategy was upended by the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal. The diesel was quietly dropped late last year, with JLR sources saying demand for diesel engines in the U.S. “has been on a steady decline.”

That’s a shame, because the 2022 Range Rover Sport D300 is an utter sweetheart.

The Td6 Land Rovers sold in the U.S. were powered by the aging 3.0-liter V-6 “Lion” turbodiesel, a powerplant designed jointly by Ford and PSA in the early 2000s. The D300 is powered by the new Ingenium straight-six turbodiesel that has been rolled out across the Land Rover lineup in other markets over the past few months. The modular design of the Ingenium engine family means the 2.0-liter four- and 3.0-liter six-cylinder gas and diesel engines share the same bore and stroke and a significant amount of other hardware, thus reducing production costs.

The 3.0-liter Ingenium diesel is available in four specifications: D200 with 197 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque, D250 with 245 hp and 420 lb-ft, D300 with 296 hp and 479 lb-ft, and D350 with 345 hp and 516 lb-ft. The D200 powers entry-level Defenders in Europe and other markets; the D300 is likely to be the volume-selling engine for diesel-powered Range Rover Sports. All the six-cylinder Ingenium diesels are mild hybrids, with a 48-volt integrated starter-generator mounted between the engine and transmission. Their aluminum block construction means they’re lighter than the old iron-block Lion engine, too.

The difference between the D300 and Td6 engines is obvious the moment you thumb the start button. The new straight-six is smoother on startup than the old V-6 and much quieter at idle. There’s none of the growl of the aptly named Lion when you squeeze the gas to get the Range Rover rolling, either; the D300 merely purrs contentedly as the eight-speed automatic transmission works the torque. At constant-throttle cruising speeds, the Ingenium diesel is almost inaudible.

With 42 more horses and 36 more lb-ft under the hood than my Td6 long-termer, the Range Rover Sport D300 is an even more relaxed and long-legged cruiser. And with that extra torque available over a wider powerband—the Lion V-6 made 423 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm, while the D300 Ingenium’s 479 lb-ft is on tap from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm—it feels more alert in traffic and more responsive in hilly terrain.

Fuel economy is better, too. The best I ever got out of the Td6 was 30 mpg. My 250-mile stint in the D300 saw it averaging around 37 mpg, dropping to 31 mpg when I upped my highway cruising speed from 75 mph to 85-90 mph. The Td6 had an effective cruising range of more than 500 miles. The D300 will easily go 100 miles farther.

Tougher particulates emissions standards and the lingering stench of Dieselgate mean the diesel’s days are numbered, particularly for cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks. (Europe’s heavy truck makers have recently signed a pledge to ditch pure diesels by 2040.) In Western Europe, where just a decade ago 58 percent of all new cars came with diesels, they accounted for less than 30 percent of sales in 2020.

Against that background, there’s something poignantly quixotic about the Range Rover Sport D300. Smooth, quiet, and efficient, with an excellent cruising range, it’s a very, very good diesel version of an already good SUV. But from an emissions point of view, diesels just aren’t good enough anymore. Right engine, wrong time.

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