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Road Test: Kahn Design Vesuvius Edition Range Rover Sport
Name one single tuner in the world of Land Rover and you will easily come up with the name of the UK specialist Kahn Design. CEO and founder Afzal Kahn is known for his Range Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley programs, which meant it was time for us to experience one of those creations in the form of a 2012 Range Rover Sport dressed in Vesuvius Orange.
In front of the headquarters we were handed the keys to a Kahn Design Vesuvius Edition Range Rover Sport powered by 3.0 SDV6 HSE diesel engine. A diesel so not our first choice, but an SUV we had not driven before. Packed with every single exterior and interior option available from the list we positioned ourselves behind the steering wheel of the 2012 model Range Rover and headed into the British countryside near Bradford.
The 2012 model-year Range Rover Sport has a range of upgrades including enhancements to the performance, fuel economy and gear ratios. It also received new exterior and interior colors, an upgraded audio and infotainment system with the new generation’s seven-inch touchscreen that features the Dual View Technology and rear-seat entertainment with screens mounted in the front headrests.
The 3.0 liter SDV6 diesel engine in our test car produced an improved 256hp at 4,000rpm with maximum torque of 600Nm at 2,000rpm. The engine uses a parallel sequential turbocharging system improving the throttle response with a maximum torque already available from only 2,000rpm. The 3.0 liter diesel delivers 500Nm in only 500 milliseconds from idle. This means we had instantaneous access to 83 percent of maximum torque in the lower rev ranges, which was felt from the moment you hit the throttle.
The engine is linked to the new ZF 8HP70, eight-speed automatic gearbox, offering smooth shifts and improved fuel economy. The gearbox has brains too. In hot conditions it selects a lower gear to run the engine and air conditioning pumps faster to cool down the cabin quickly. In cold conditions it runs the engine faster to reduce warm-up time and emissions. The new 2012 Range Rover Sport SDV6 has been equipped with the Drive Select rotary gear shift and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Kahn added his personal luxury touch to the surface of the round gear shift button.
The engine feels surprisingly torquey and rather subtle. In many circumstances there is more than enough power to pull you forward and the new gearbox feels swift and precise. The new controls are instantly clear and familiar because of previous drives in Range Rovers and Jaguars. In the end we had no desire to use the paddle-shifters thanks to the engine’s surplus of torque.
Kahn Design did not change the characteristics of the TDV6 engine, instead they focused on the exterior and interior refinements. Upon request they can offer an ECU upgrade from Cosworth upping the power of the TDV6 and 5.0 LR-V8 supercharged engine to higher output values. Do not expect miracles, the changes are minimal and only offer higher top speeds and marginal increases in sprint times. Two characteristics you normally never associate with a large and heavy SUV.
The exterior upgrades fitted to the Vesuvius Edition SUV include a metallic black paint job, a Vesuvius Matt Orange roof stripe, orange rear spoiler, black rubber sidesteps with an orange edge, front extended lip spoiler in orange/black and a grille insert in the same Vesuvius Matt Orange. The body kit also has vented front wheel arches with integrated LED running lights and vented rear wheel arch spats with integrated air dams, creating a more aggressive look.
The Kahn Vesuvius Edition Range Rover Sport rides on RS 22 inch black alloy wheels with a Matt Orange stripe. At the rear, newly designed black end pipes were fitted, which complement the enhanced design. If requested, the parts can be individual chosen and color coded in Vesuvius Orange.
Inside the cabin, the Orange color has been used on the new bespoke RS leather sports front and rear seats and the Kahn steering wheel. The four door panels are quilted and the aluminum vented foot pedals are machined specially for Kahn. The Kahn interior branding is also applied on the Drive Select rotary gear shift, center clock piece and the five floor mats.
Inside the newly tailored cabin, you are being powered along by the super-refined new engine, improved chassis setup and the true Range Rover style. Isolated from the rest of the world, the Range Rover Sport delivers a feel-good factor that very few other cars can offer. Afzal Kahn will add your personally requested luxury style and taste to the equation making you feel even more at home then you already are.
The Range Rover Sport is just one of those cars that you almost feel guilty for liking. Amazingly, the Kahn upgrades delete all that guilt from your mind and let’s you admire the choice you’ve made. The quality levels of the parts fitted to the Vesuvius edition are excellent and increase the levels of comfort and style. Kahn did not change anything to the excellent ride, experience and capabilities of the Range Rover Sport. However, we wouldn’t recommend you taking it off-road. It could bring back the guilt of destroying your wonderful looking and newly fitted Kahn body parts and rims.