Growing up in East Lothian, I spent most of my youth and early adulthood running around farms, driving tractors and pick-ups. I realised from an early age that I had a passion for speed and, after learning to drive at the age of nine, I accepted every opportunity to develop my skills behind the wheel – including several summers of driving grain during the harvest season. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but it allowed me to do two things I loved – driving and listening to music.
When I was asked to drive the newest Range Rover Sport Hybrid, I jumped at the chance. Range Rover has always been seen as the ultimate in terms of luxury and class, especially within the farming community.
When I arrived at Pentland Range Rover in Edinburgh, I was presented with the keys to what was going to be my ride for the day. The Sport Hybrid was imposing, with extravagance inside and out. The magnificent exterior was sleek and sexy with blacked-out windows for additional privacy. The monochrome interior was made up of leather and suede, giving an opulent feel that was exaggerated by the panoramic glass roof. This was going to be a good day.
Turning the key, the electric-only drive kicked in and I made my way out of the dealership towards Edinburgh city centre, which is when I was able to experience the full power of the V6 engine that this machine had to offer. Towering over all of the other road users, I felt like I was queen of the road.
Admittedly, you also get that feeling while you’re driving a tractor. When you’re driving a Range Rover, you’re viewing the world from on high and getting envious glances from drivers who wish they were in your driving seat. But when you’re driving a tractor on the road, the only looks you get are those of frustrated annoyance from other road users. They only wish you could get your clumbering vehicle out of their way so they could get to their destinations on time… and you can’t go any faster.
Range Rover ensures your regal status by offering quality, style and attention to luxury detail. For a large vehicle, it handled really well in and around town and didn’t feel too bulky for the urban lifestyle.
I then got a chance to test how well I could handle this car when I drove it to my home village of Garvald, in East Lothian, and that’s when I really fell in love with it. The route is made up of B-class roads for most of the way, which gave me the chance to experience the true handling of the Range Rover’s terrain response system as I made sure I hit every muddy puddle on my way.
There was very little body lean and it was surprisingly agile around the corners. The air-suspension responded to every bump along the way with confidence. It was ultra-responsive on the accelerator and the steering was light and reactive. The driving experience felt like sheer simplicity.
With the United Nations climate change talks taking place in Paris over the winter, the environment has seldom been far from the headlines during the past few weeks. Having grown up on and around farms, the countryside and the environment are really important to me and are a big part of my life, having studied for a business degree in agriculture at the Scottish Agricultural College.
So it was really interesting to read some of the stats about this hybrid, which combines a three-litre V6 diesel engine with a 35kW electric motor. Together, the two produce 700nm of torque, the same performance as Land Rover’s V8 diesel engine, but with its carbon dioxide emissions being 13% lower.
Having lower emissions doesn’t mean you have to compromise on performance either. While you can get a shade over 44 miles per gallon when you combine its urban and open-road figures, the hybrid still boasts 340 horsepower and can get from nought to sixty in just 6.5 seconds. Not something you can match in a tractor sadly.
I’m a self-confessed lover of Formula 1 and was lucky enough to attend the recent Singapore race. Seeing the drivers at close range and hearing the noise of the engines leaves your heart pumping with excitement. But I’m also left feeling great admiration for the drivers’ skills and how they handle their cars.
While I’ve never sat in the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 racing car, I imagine it to be small
and cramped. Not so with the Range Rover Sport Hybrid. I had such fun exploring the inside of this palatial cabin. Range Rover has literally thought of everything, including a fridge for cooling drinks on those long summer drives and heated steering wheel for those dark winter mornings. The ergonomics throughout the car are spot on and leave the driver and passengers wanting for nothing, with adjustable front and rear seats, individual climate control, drinks holders and plenty of foot and leg space.
Handing the car back was like prising an ice cream from a child – the worst part of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the stress-free driving and was able to relax in to the car.
Anna Renton is group investment director at Edinburgh-based Grant Property.
The car Anna was driving was a Range Rover Sport Hybrid, starting from £84,350. Supplied by Pentland Land Rover, Newbridge, Edinburgh, EH28 8TH, 0131 202 5431.