Upgraded Brands: Range Rover’s engine, Audi’s character

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2006 Range Rover Sport2006 Range Rover Sport
By now everyone should know what the Range Rover brand is all about. Coming onstage is the Range Rover Sport, an all-new addition to the family that will extend the excitement to more SUV buyers.

Range Rover Sport, classified as a “Sports Tourer” by its builders, is like the younger brother of the coolest kid in school. Though Big Brother is tougher, smoother and more refined in his game, Little Man is more athletic. He’s a lady’s man and a bit more accessible to those who have the nerve to step to him. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the HSE is $56,750 and the supercharged model starts at $69,750. The HSE has a 4.4-liter, 300-horsepower, naturally aspirated V8, while the Supercharged model comes with a robust 4.2-liter V8 engine with 390 horses! If you drove the previous Range Rover with the BMW-built 4.4-liter, then you would agree that an engine upgrade was necessary for the Range to keep its place at the top of the pecking order.

The Sport is equipped with four-corner independent air suspension and Land Rover’s Terrain Response. This system gives drivers the choice of five off-road settings—grass, gravel, snow, sand and rock crawl—which can be selected for the appropriate environment. Yet, the on-road drive is where the Sport was primarily designed to test its laurels. It feels and performs like a sports sedan on open roads. With power-assisted Servotronic rack-and-pinion steering, conquering traffic was easy. So was stopping with its four-channel Bosch ABS anti-lock brakes on 19″/20″ aluminum alloy wheels.

Sport’s interior is what you come to expect from a Range Rover. Comfortable leather seats for all, power everything and, my new favorite, Bluetooth technology with which my Blackberry phone worked seamlessly. The Harman/Kardon stereo system with Logic 7 surround sound was great and the DVD-based GPS navigation system was easy to use.

2006 Audi A8L W122006 Audi A8L W12
Audi has found a way to quietly neutralize the automotive scene. The 2006 Audi A8L—with the W12 engine, no less—was one of our most satisfying test drives. From the Night Blue Pearl exterior paint to the Adaptive Air Suspension and the Four-Zone Climate Control, the A8L could not help but ooze amenities. Mercedes, BMW and yes, Audi, have been producing luxury cars for a long time, with the first two garnering social fame and top sales in the United States. So why not take a look at the A8, since it goes round for round against the S-Class and 7-Series? Actually, we chose it over the two. Why? For one, it has character that only a few truly understand. Moreover, the interior is flawless during the day and seductive after dark. Have you seen the dashboard lights? Finally, it’s equipped with our favorite—quattro all-wheel drive!

The A8L’s lighter all-aluminum alloy frame counterbalances the heavier but completely worthwhile all-wheel drive quattro system that Audi has been perfecting for more than 25 years. Quattro, along with a beastly 6.0-liter, 450-horsepower W12 aluminum engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual shifting, make for a powerful and nimble drive in a full-size body. Big Boy jumps off the line and accelerates through the gears to your desired cruising speed with ease and brakes just as effortlessly when needed.

Rest assured the A8L will also keep you safe with its host of restraint systems, including front and side airbags, side curtain bags and even front knee airbags. Also in the mix is adaptive cruise-control, 20″ wheels with performance tires, Sirius Satellite Radio and a multifunction heated steering wheel. All of which is available for a mere $126,010, including destination and guzzler tax. No big deal, right?     

G. Joe contributed to this article. Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythms and host of “The Urban Automotive Experience.” Visit www.AutomotiveRhythms.com.