2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review – A Genuinely Sporty SUV, or Not?

Range Rover Sport?

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 stealth pack

All-new for 2014, and now on its second generation, the Range Rover Sport was developed alongside its bigger sibling, and yet it is made from 75% of unique parts, setting it aside from the big Rangey.

While the previous-gen model featured the Discovery’s chassis, and just look quite as classy as it should, this 2015 Range Rover Sport should be a great, right? Read on to find out…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

Stealth pack Front three quarter 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review

I’ve liked all the versions of the full-fat Range Rover. There’s a coolness about them I can’t quite place my finger on.  However, when the first-generation Sport was launched I disliked it immediately, for where the full-size Rangey simply exuded class, the Sport didn’t. It looked almost dull the exterior, and came a rather poor second to the big brother. I’ve never seen the appeal of the first-gen Sport, and still don’t.

With just a 6.2 cm (2.4″) longer body than its predecessor, there’s now a huge difference in length, but crucially the new Sport sees the wheelbase extended by 17.8 cm (7.0″), to give those in the rear more legroom.

Stealth pack Rear three quarter 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6

The new Range Rover Sport is in another league design-wise now, thankfully. The squared-off, humdrum looks have been replaced with a sleek machine that actually deserve the revered Range Rover badge. The size difference between big and… slightly smaller brother is that the Sport is 15 cm (5.9″) shorter and 5.5 cm (2.1″) lower. While those differences aren’t much on paper, the Sport appears significantly less bulky than the Range Rover.

Bonnet spoiler stealth package 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6

The Sport is just that – with a hunkered, action-ready stance. The roofline is lower, the side windows narrower and it pinches of tighter at the rear too. With this new version, there’s more of the Range Rover in the design, and you almost get the same sense of wealth wafting past as it passes, but not quite as much.

However, this is aimed at a slight different buyer – perhaps a younger, more energetic crowd, dare I say. The Sport looks like it’s permanently ready to be off and pushing fast down the road, with swept-back eagle-eye headlights, the ‘clamshell’ bonnet edge throwing a straight line that runs right the way down the side of the Sport, and bulging wheel arches adding a muscular tone.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 alloy wheels black stealth package

At the rear, the lights mirror those up front, and that straight line down the side continues over the tailgate, creating a satisfactory uniform appearance. Twin exhausts peek out from underneath thick black plastic trim, which hints at the the Range Rover Sport’s off-road ability.

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Something I really don’t like though, which has unfortunately come over from the first-gen Sport’s design, are those plastic side mouldings which run below the doors. They look awful, and I can’t understand why they stayed. Bit of a let-down when the rest of the Sport is so nice.

All said though, overall this new Sport is massively improved, so much so, in fact, that the old version can barely be recognised side-by-side next the this new beast. Good!

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review front driver leather seat dashboard

The Range Rover Sport exudes luxury in a way that few cars can, and just because this is the Sport – and therefore slightly less expensive than big brother – it in no way impedes the quality of the cabin. In fact, it’s almost identical to the Range Rover’s, only with slightly less room.

Sit inside, pull shut the weighty door, and there’s an immediate sensation that it’s a safe, welcoming place, with heaps of character and warmth. A bit like one of those traditional British country pubs you walk into, which has two foot thick walls, a couple of wingback chairs in front of a permanently-burning fire, and your favourite brand of peanuts behind the bar. Cozy.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic steering wheel stealth package

While this is the case though, the Range Rover Sport is still thoroughly modern and in keeping with the times. A bit like the pub now having WiFi and a high-end coffee machine.

For example, in the drivers’s binnacle, there’s a full TFT/LCD instrument cluster featuring virtual dials in place of traditional ones. There’s also (depending on which model you spec and option boxes you tick) an 8-inch high resolution touchscreen with Dual-View technology (the passenger can watch TV whist the driver on sees a normal screen), Digital TV, a surround camera system, park assist, rear-seat entertainment, a thoroughly brilliant Meridian surround sound system, four-zone climate control, InControl Apps and InControl WiFi (which allows up to 8 devices to be used simultaneously) so you can sync your smartphone apps to the touchscreen.

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There are touches to make your Sport more individual too, such as colour-selectable ambient lighting throughout, and Exclusive-Class individual rear seating.

All that modern tech is great but when it comes down to it, first impressions last when it comes to car interiors. There’s no need to be worried on that front though, as the Range Rover Sport cabin is quite stunning.

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Before I go into this section though, I’ll point out one thing: as standard the RR Sport comes with full black leather and interior trim with only the occasional flash of aluminium to brighten things and it, in fact, looks decidedly underwhelming in this guise. Thankfully, there are a good few ‘no extra charge’ interior choices to add back the elegance and warmth, but that’s down to individual tastes too, of course.

The Range Rover Sport’s interior is a lesson to other manufacturers in how to do it right. There’s an almost simplistic layout, thanks to the touchscreen controlling the majority of things. The designers have been clever though, and include switchgear on the centre console and steering wheel for the things you need to adjust most often. These are ergonomic and also sizeable enough to be easily used with gloved hands.

Don’t take the fact that I’ve said it’s a simplistic design to mean there’s a lack of style though – quite the opposite. It’s a truly prepossessing place to be, and no matter where your eyes glance it’s aesthetically pleasing. The doors have the type of design and styling that you’ll see on-board an expensive yacht: beautifully soft leather meets perfectly finished aluminium trim, with satin aluminium pieces for the handles and surrounds, plus high-end-feel rubberised controls – all fixed in place to an extremely high standard.

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Land Rover have done a lot to make sure even the more minor points impress: the main central armrest drops into place in a controlled and silent manner, rather than simply banging heavily down, and the ‘hidden’ storage spaces in the front doors are lined with soft felt. The more time I spent in the Range Rover Sport, the more I was impressed by the attention to detail, and that’s always a good thing.

The one slight difference was that the panel on the full-size Rangey, which hides the cupholders on the centre console, has a wonderful, gentle sprung action, which allows it to slide back silently over the cupholders, whereas on the Sport it’s a normal push-pull type. A small point, perhaps, but it’s that type of thing you pay the extra money for.

Seating-wise, the 14-way adjustable heated fronts are super-comfortable, and while you’ll sink into the deep leather, the sheer amount of adjustment allows all the support you need. They aren’t quite as comfy as the 18-way ones on the big Rangey Vogue SE we previously tested, but for the front you can actually option either 18-way seats (£300) or 20-way massaging versions (£1,300) if you wish.

Passengers in the rear will be almost as comfortable in the Sport as they will be in the full Range Rover, but there’s not quite as much legroom to be had. Still, none of my passengers complained and they stated they were perfectly agreeable.

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The test car I was sent had the optional 5+2 seating (£1,500), which gives two extra seats in the boot, which fold flush into the floor via a button each side. These don’t really provide the leg room needed for adults, and are more for children, but could be used for short journeys if needed, especially if the second row slide their seats forward slightly.

A couple of issues I came across, which surprised me considering this is a Range Rover: there are vents mounted into the pillar next to the rear doors, which point into the boot giving ventilation to the third-row passengers. However, on the test car one side blew harder and discernibly louder than the other side, which was annoying to those in the second-row as it sits at ear-height.

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The second issue was that when taking a quick look at the vent to see if I could close or quieten it, I noticed that they looked like they were made out of cheap and flimsy plastic, and the outer casing which sits in the pillar was actually loose both sides, and one even dropped out into my hand when redirecting it. Definitely substandard compared with the rest of the Range Rover Sport. This might seem like a small point, but actually they’re right at eye-view when entering and sat in the rear seats, and therefore very noticeable.

Luggage space in the new Sport is 9% improved over the previous model, and you now get 784 litres behind the rear seats, and 1,652 litres with the second row folded down. Cleverly, Land Rover designed the new model with a hybrid system in mind, so no boot room is exactly the same on both hybrid and non-hybrid models, and the seven-seat version doesn’t lose out to room over the five-seat one either.

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One thing you don’t get on the Sport is the handy drop-down tailgate from the Range Rover, which is a great feature. To be fair though, the Sport isn’t aimed as much at the horse/hunting crowd as the big Rangey, so perhaps it’s just not really needed.

All said, the Range Rover’s cabin is absolutely exceptional. It’s very nearly an automotive work of art, such is the quality of attention to detail. It’s an expensive vehicle, yes, but it feels like you’re getting exactly what you’ve paid for, and more besides.

The Range Rover's cabin is absolutely exceptional 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6

I tried hard to find fault with the Range Rover’s cabin: perhaps the seats could be comfier? Nope. Okay, they could do with a massage function. Option it then. Surely somewhere there are a few parts with underwhelming fit and finish? No, it’s (almost) all beautifully done. Aside from those third-row vents, that is.

The touchscreen system could be better? Yes, but mainly no. The menus are simple and easy, and it’s a nicely done system overall, but Land Rover have been using it for a while now and high-definition screens are starting to arrive in cars, so in the graphics department there’s room for improvement. That’s all I’ve got in the way of a minus point.

Engine & transmission

The Sport gets a choice of four different engine (depending on the spec you choose): a 3.0 litre SDV6 diesel, 3.0 litre SDV6 hybrid diesel, 4.4 litre SDV8 diesel and a 5.0 litre V8 Supercharged petrol.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 3.0 SDV6 diesel with two stage parallel-sequential turbocharging

There’s no choice with the HSE Dynamic spec Sport though, as you get the 3.0 SDV6 diesel only, which has two stage parallel-sequential turbocharging and an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, which changes gears in just 200 milliseconds. Power is rated as 306 bhp, and a hefty 516 lb ft (700Nm) maximum torques produced between 1,500 and 1,750 rpm.

Top speed is 130 miles per hour, while 0 – 60 mph is accomplished in a very respectable 6.8 seconds. Official fuel economy stats (UK mpg) read as: urban: 35.8, extra urban: 44.1, combined: 40.4, with 185 g/km CO2 emissions.

Power is rated as 306 bhp, and a hefty 516 lb ft (700Nm) maximum torques produced between 1,500 and 1,750 rpm.

These are actually not far off the mark, as a motorway run over 126 miles saw a return of just over 32 mpg, a mix-roads drive gave 38.1 mpg, and over the entire test period of 823 miles the Range Rover Sport 3.0 litre SDV6 showed an impressive 31.8 mpg average. That’s very good from such a big beast, and considering my right foot doesn’t go easy on the accelerator very often.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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If you’ve driven a Range Rover before, and then jump into the Sport, you’ll notice a difference immediately in the way it drives and handles.

For such a big thing, the Rangey handles itself really well, and it’s miles more poised than you’d imagine. However, the Sport really does deliver on it’s promise of being, well… sporty. The 3.0 litre V6 twin-turbo diesel is silky smooth, and a really wonderful engine all-round, suiting the Sport perfectly well.

The SDV6 provides all the power you want or need, pushing a continuous and uninterupted wave of beautifully strong torque right across the rev range, and doing so in the velvety manner so befitting a Range Rover.

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Never once did I feel it lacked in either of the above, in any situation – overtaking at high speeds, pulling up ridiculously-steep hills with a car full of people and luggage, or simply wanting the thrill of blasting down my favourite bit of road, all come very easily and naturally to the Sport.

Sure, the diesel 4.4 L SDV8 is a great engine as well, but you’re actually only benefitting from around 30 horsepower and 30 lb ft of torque extra over the SDV6, it uses more fuel, and you’re having to pay around £6,500 more too. If you’ve really got money burning a hole in your pocket, upgrade, but otherwise the SDV6 is brilliant, and certainly not a ‘step down’ or a compromise over the V8 diesel.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review-0756

The optional park assist system works well on the Sport. It’s quick to recognise a space, and parks in spaces you’d be surprised it’d get into. This is a big vehicle, and if you’re not the most confident parker, option it. An option I really liked on the Sport as the headup display. It is super-clear, and I ended up using it 90% of the time when checking my speed. It also shows navigation directions and more. At £1,000 it’s not cheap, but well worth it.

After just a few corners in the Sport, I already noticed quite a large difference in handling over the bigger RR. The Sport feels really planted and solid through the bends, with way more stability than I was expecting. While both Range Rovers glides along gracefully, the Sport’s suspension and chassis feel tighter, and it offers a more responsive feel as the view starts to blur.

There’s four-corner air suspension which has been completely re-engineered. It is fully-independent and double isolated, with wide-spaced double-wishbones at the front and an advanced multi-link layout at the rear, which offers variable ride height (+35mm and +65mm, rather than a single +55mm position on the previous model), giving a total movement range of 185mm.

On the HSE Dynamic spec Sport, Terrain Response 2 comes as standard. This simple-to-use system gives various on and off-road driving modes, including Dynamic mode which uses and includes Dynamic Response active lean control, a Dynamic Active Rear Locking Differential, and Torque Vectoring by Braking.

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There’s lots of other clever stuff to help with handling too, such as a Dynamic Active Rear Locking Differential which react s faster than the pervious generation’s did, while the Adaptive Dynamics system ‘monitors vehicle movements at least 500 times a second, reacting to driver or road inputs virtually instantaneously to give greater control and minimise body roll, providing a composed, flat ride.’

Permanent four-wheel-drive gives the RR Sport a stuck-to-the-road feel, and genuinely conveys big dollops of confidence, even when the rain is so heavy that the road looks like a river. Both the Range Rover and the Sport provide an incredibly planted sense, and there are very few other cars I’ve tested that’ll give that same assured driving experience.

There’s even more technology than that as well, but I’d probably have to add another 1,000 words to fit it all in. I don’t want to be all gushy, but I’m going to be. The fact that that amount of tech is doing hundreds and hundreds of calculations per second, and sorting out the car’s handling, all while you’re having fun hammering it around a bend without the slightest idea or feel of what the computer systems are doing, is simply incredible. You pays your money…

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review-0762

This second generation Sport is an incredible 39% lighter than the last model, thanks partly to an aluminium monocoque and it now weighs 2115kg, compared to 2535kg (SDV6 model), helping reduce rather effectively the body roll, and helping with acceleration and fuel economy.

The difference in feel once you’ve selected Dynamic mode is glaringly obvious, and it’ll take your Sport from smoothing out all the bumps around town, to a hunkered-down and focussed in milliseconds. While the Range Rover Sport is a large SUV, the way it handles itself on undulating, zigzagging roads is quite amazing, and it’ll take you aback about as much as seeing a hippo do Swan Lake in a pink tutu.

Although the Sport’s adaptive suspension does its job very well in ironing-out the feel of road imperfections at lower speeds, the ride just isn’t quite as smooth as the Range Rover’s. I wouldn’t describe the Sport’s ride as compromised over the Rangey’s, just slightly less glossy, that’s all.

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

Drive terrain selector for off road driving in the 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6

While I didn’t get change to take the Sport off-road this time, we did with the big Range Rover, so we’ll report off the back of that, as the only real difference is the ground clearance and wading depth.

Let’s face it, most of the owners who drive a Range Rover will have never, ever, taken it off-road, and especially so with the Sport I reckon. If you’re one of those that actually do use theirs to the full, then you are a rarity and need applauding. For the majority the most water their Rangey will have seen is at a car wash, the only time the suspension is raised to the highest point is when they accidentally pressed the button and then panicked as it lifted up, the only stone the tyres make contact with is on gravel driveways or bumping up kerbs, and mud is an entirely foreign entity.

Auto terrain response screen information 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6

That they are exceptionally underused is a shame, because what many owners don’t realise is that the Range Rover is one of, if not the most capable off-road SUVs, and has been for a long time. When you buy one, I believe you are offered a free course on how to use the 4×4 system, and to be shown its capabilities. I implore you to take the opportunity to do this, because once you do you’ll see your Sport in a whole new light, and suddenly you’ve not just bought it for its comfortable ride and spacious cabin, but because it’ll just about tackle anything you throw at it.

In brief: the Range Rover has a simple-to-use Terrain Response 2 four-wheel-drive system. While it’s ‘simple’ to use, what’s going on behind the scenes for it to take you places you wouldn’t think possible is absolutely incredible.

diff lock selector screen information 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review-0612

For 2015, the Range Rover now has an Auto mode on the Terrain Response dial. This uses sensors and internal algorithms to read the terrain and select the most suitable off-road mode to fit the driving conditions, making decisions changes in less than half a second. If you decide to use the system yourself, there are several self-explanatory modes available: ‘Grass, Gravel, Snow’, ‘Mud & Ruts’, ‘Sand’, ‘Rock Crawl’. Beyond that, you can buy the option of a rear-differential and a wade-depth monitor to make it even more capable.

Other tech which is either included or optional to make it almost unstoppable on the rough stuff is: Hill Descent Control (HDC), Gradient Release Control (GRC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), and Roll Stability Control (RSC).

One of my favourite features – new for this second-gen Sport – is the Wade Sensing feature. Wade Sensing uses sensors in the door mirrors to provide the driver with information about the depth when driving through water. It’s something we actually put to the test on the Land Rover Discovery 4, which you can read about here.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 review-0609

One thing I would point out is that if you are going to actually use your Range Rover Sport off-road frequently, it’s well worth remembering that, like any 4×4, the system is only good to a certain point when you’re just running on road tyres, so fitting all-season or proper all-terrain rubber is essential.

Specs are: 213mm (8.4″) to 278mm (10.9″) maximum ground clearance depending on the drive mode selected, a wading depth of 850mm (33.4″), and it’ll tow a gross weight of up to 3,500 kgs (7,716 lbs).

The thing that makes the Range Rover stand out is not just its amazing off-road ability, but just how easily it accomplishes what it needs to, with minimal stress or effort from those it’s carrying, and again, it is in absolute comfort too. Go on, try it sometime!

Price

(figures correct Sept. 2015) The Range Rover Sport’s asking price ranges from £61,950 for the HSE SDV6, to a little over £95,000 for the monster SVR 5.0 Litre V8 Supercharged petrol. Our HSE Dynamic was £66,250, but an absolutely humongous list of added options took it into to near the £78,000 mark.

If you want the better handling, buy the HSE Dynamic spec and upwards, as they come with Terrain Response 2, torque vectoring and more, making it sharper than the lowest-spec HSE.

The Sport is pretty unique really, because as well as doing all the on-road stuff rather superbly, it’s also a potent off-roader too, and very few other SUVs would keep up with it (if any at all) once it turns from tarmac to tundra.

However, if we’re honest most people won’t use theirs for rough-going, so here are a few other SUV options: Porsche Cayenne: £49,500 – £118,000, BMW X5: £44,000 – £90,000, Mercedes-Benz GL: £61,600 – £94,700, GMC Denali: $67,520+, Cadillac Escalade ESV: $72,970+, Ford Expedition: $45,435 – $62,985.

2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6 verdict & score

Why would you buy the Sport over the full-sized Range Rover? After all, the RR is a beautiful thing – an absolutely sorted all-rounder with insanely good off-road prowess, a brilliant, super-sleek drive on-road, and a cabin that looks as good as something you’d find on an expensive yacht.

However, while similar in many ways, the Sport sets itself apart in a couple of areas. Physically, its styling will attract a younger slice of the high-end SUV market, and the handling and drive is considerably more focussed, and, well… sporty, than the Range Rover’s. You do lose out on some rear legroom, but you also get the choice of seven seats, and rather ingeniously they don’t compromise boot space either.

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I am of the opinion that the Sport does not carry with it quite the same air of class or sophistication as the Range Rover does. I love seeing a Rangey pass by, they always make me grin a little, and I’ll carry on looking at it after it drives on. I just don’t get that same feeling (or grin) with the Sport.

However, I don’t believe the Sport is an inferior version of the full-sized Range Rover, and it’s not simply a more inexpensive way of buying into the brand  – after all, the price difference isn’t that great, all said. Instead, I think buyers will deliberately choose the Sport for the above reasons, and not to save but a few grand.

Do you own a second-generation Range Rover Sport, or have questions about it? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! Read more of our Land Rover reviews here

Exterior  8.5
Interior  9
Engine  9
Gearbox  9
Price  9
Handling  9
Drive & Ride  9
 Off-Road ability  9
Overall Score  9.0 / 10 

Specs

Model (as tested) 2015 Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic 3.0L SDV6
Spec includes  Xenon & LED headlamps, heated front windscreen, 21″ alloys, adjustable air suspension, Terrain Response 2. Safety: trailer stability assist, CBC, DSC, EBD, Electronic stability program, ETC, EBA, HDC, Roll Stability Control, Intelligent Emergency Braking, active seat belts. 14-way adjustable & heated driver/front passenger seats, heated rear seats, two-zone climate control, cruise control, 8″ touchscreen with sat nav, 250W audio, Rear Camera Parking Aid including Hitching Guidance. See website for more detail
Options you should spec  Powered 5+2 seating: £1,500. Surround camera system: £700. Headup display: £1,000. Wade Sensing plus Blind Spot Monitor with closing vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection: £750. 3-zone climate control: £450.  Leather Heated steering wheel: £175.  Climate front & rear seats: £1,000. Park assist with parallel park: £900
The Competition Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLGMC Denali, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Ford Expedition
Price  (Feb. ’15) £61,950 – £95,150. As tested: £67,150 (inc. options: £79,550)
Engine  3.0 litre SDV6 diesel, two stage parallel-sequential turbocharging
Power, Torque  Engine: Power: 306 bhp | Torque: 516 lb ft (700Nm) between 1,500 and 1,750 rpm.
Drive, Transmission (as tested)  Permanent All-Wheel-Drive with Terrain Response 2® | 8-speed automatic (ZF) with CommandShift
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity Clearance: 213mm (8.4″) to 278mm (10.9″) | Wading: 850 mm (33.4″) | Braked towing: 3,500 kgs (7,716 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 130 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 6.8 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: Sport not tested as yet. Full-size Range Rover: 5/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 35.8, Extra urban: 44.1, Combined: 40.4 | CO2: 185 g/km
Weight (Min. kerb)  2,115 kgs (4,663 lbs)
Websites  Land Rover UK, Land Rover USA, Land Rover Global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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