22 Jun Driving a New Range Rover Sport with Right Hand Drive
I recently returned from a trip to England – in fact, you may have seen my latest episode which gives you a tour of the London Film Museum’s “Bond in Motion” exhibit. (Definitely check it out if you are a James Bond fan.) My family and I spent some time in London before heading out to the English countryside, to wrap up our journey with some rest and relaxation. This, of course, involved renting a car. Now, I am a big Land Rover fan and since we were in Britain I thought this would be the perfect time to rent one to see how it drives in its home country. So, I went online and reserved the car I wanted. When we arrived at the rental car location in London we picked up our Range Rover Sport. It wasn’t any ordinary model – it was an Autobiography, which is top-of-the-line and it featured a diesel engine, as many do in the U.K.
I have to share my experience of driving a right hand drive vehicle. I have driven on the left side of the road in a right hand drive vehicle several times in the Cayman Islands, but this time was different because it involved some major city driving. The plan was to go from the car rental place to Harrod’s and then back to our hotel in London the evening before leaving for the English countryside. Driving on the left is actually not as big of an ordeal as you might imagine. Having a right hand drive car definitely helps. When you get in on the usual passenger side, right away your brain is telling you something is very different because the steering wheel is in front of you. The only other real problem in the city is navigating the roads, which is solved with the car’s fantastic in-dash system. What you won’t get is my wife verbally translating Google maps and serving as the vehicle’s navigation backup, which I admit was pretty handy.
I also experienced some difficulty because the roads are quite narrow in London and also in the countryside. The Range Rover Sport is a fairly large vehicle. I had several close encounters with other vehicles which simply wouldn’t have occurred in America because our roads are so much wider, by comparison. Let me just say I got to know the “Lane Keep Assist” feature on the vehicle very well. Anytime I inadvertently crossed the line on the left side of the road, I received a gentle vibration in the steering wheel. I did get used to driving on the narrow roads and on the left side pretty quickly. If anything, it really helped me keep my focus on the road because it’s such a change from what I’m used to driving.
By the time the trip was over I put nearly 200 miles on the Range Rover Sport, which included a trip to Stonehenge and Highclere Castle, which you may know is the location where the popular PBS show, Downton Abbey, takes place. Beautiful, isn’t it?
The Range Rover Sport makes any journey enjoyable. With this Autobiography version I also had the Adaptive Cruise Control feature at my fingertips. I used the Adaptive Cruise Control for several hours and was continually impressed. Land Rover’s system will actually bring you to a complete stop if the traffic gets backed up into a jam. It’s a very nice feature to have on unfamiliar roads. Another benefit of this feature is that it keeps the car under the speed limit, because speed cameras are everywhere in Britain.
For those of you that don’t know how Adaptive Cruise Control works you set the speed and the distance you want to keep between you and the car in front of you. If anything enters that area in front of your car it will match their speed until the area becomes clear. What makes this one special is the ability to come to a complete stop which is very useful when traffic backs up.
My only other surprise was the diesel engine. Now, Land Rover does sell a diesel version in the U.S., but it’s not like this one. This was the V8 diesel, which had plenty of power, but offered the most insane fuel economy I have ever experienced in a car of that size. We averaged roughly 35 mpg during the trip. The lowest I ever saw it was 32 mpg and the highest was in the 40s. The funny thing is, you have no idea you are driving a diesel. The typical diesel sound is non-existent on the inside and it’s hardly noticeable outside. If Land Rover offered that engine in the U.S. I would be the first in line to place an order.
Spending several days with the Range Rover Sport does make me want one. It’s so smooth on the road and it’s quiet and luxurious. The Range Rover Sport is also stately, sporty, yet iconic in its design. If you have an opportunity to drive one, definitely don’t turn it down. What’s not to love about beautiful, fairly large SUV that can post impressive efficiency numbers while touting more than enough power? I don’t care what side of the car the steering wheel is on.
Photos/Video Courtesy: Phil’s Morning Drive