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With the introduction of the Sport the rejuvenation of the Range Rover line-up is complete. The new model slots in between the highly successful Evoque and range-leading Range Rover and basically attempts to bridge the divide between the two.
Premium inside and out
For starters the Range Rover Sport is pretty. Styling is a subjective topic, so we’ll steer clear elaborations, but the Sport fits nicely with Land Rover’s latest design direction and isn’t shown up by the sleek-looking Evoque. Range Rover-cues include wrap-around head- and taillamps, high shoulder line, pronounced body line and “floating” roof.
The interior is equally striking … and comfortable. The boot can swallow 784 dm3 and although the interior feels roomy (thanks to the panoramic roof) the rear seats do feel a bit cramped – this is probably a side-effect of the Sport being offered with seven seats in other markets. Otherwise, the cabin is the leather-covered thrown room that you might expect. S versions get cloth seats, however.
So it passes the “standing outside and looking” and “sitting inside and thinking” tests. But…
How does it go?
There are three engine choices, including the 375 kW/625 N.m supercharged 5,0-litre V8 that is only available in top-spec HSE trim. The other options, the 250 kW/450 N.m supercharged 3,0-litre V6 and 215 kW/600 N.m twin-turbocharged 3,0-litre SDV6, are available in either S or HSE trim. We had a go in all three and a quick verdict would be that Land Rover weren’t lying when they said that the new Sport is the “fastest” car it has ever made.
The deep rumble of the V8 rattles off like a machine-gun as the needle climbs to 100 km/h in a claimed 5,3 seconds. For a large car, the V8 has no problem chasing the horizon. All cars come standard with a 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Shifts are quick and smooth enough (paddles are standard on HSE models).
The 3,0-litre V6 (also supercharged) is equally swift, with a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time of 7,2 seconds. The 3,0-litre SDV6 has a dollop of punch, but also a fair amount of turbo lag which sees it hesitate for a second or two before the revs climb and the nose lurches forward. This is a pity, as the diesel is otherwise swift and frugal (7,9 litres per 100 km) and a peach on the 4×4 track.
Dynamically, the Sport is superb. The key to its new-found agility and cornering prowess is the new all-aluminium platform which does not only make the new Sport stiffer, but also a whopping 420 kg lighter than its predecessor. Despite being lightly weighted, its steering is precise.
It features fully independent double wishbones up front and a multilink setup at the rear features air suspension with two ride-height options. The ride was, however, not as compliant as we expected. It handled imperfections with great ease, but felt crashy over gravel. Road noise also penetrated the cabin.
The addition of all kinds of fancy technology on the SDV6 HSE and V8 – including adaptive dynamics (continuous variable dampers) and dynamic response (with active lean and featuring a rear locking differential and cornering-brake control) – make them a pleasure through tight corners. There is very little body roll and even less of a feeling that you are driving an SUV. The Sport seems much smaller and lighter than it actually is.
Good off-road, too
Off the black stuff the Sport also holds its own. It utilises the updated Terrain Response 2 system (which can now automatically select the suitable terrain programme). Wheel travel is 260 mm up front and 272 mm at the rear and the Sport offers articulation of 546 mm. Maximum ground clearance is 278 mm with the air suspension offering a total movement range of 185 mm.
There are two 4×4 systems on offer: The first with a two-speed transfer case with low-range, a 50/50 front/rear torque split and 100 per cent locking ability. The second system is 18 kg lighter and features a single-speed transfer case with a Torsen differential which assigns torque to the axle with the most grip.
A neat optional extra is Wade Sensing, which displays the level of water that the Sport is traversing. The maximum wade depth is a staggering 850 mm.
Model: Range Rover Sport
Engine: 5,0-litre, V8 supercharged
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Power: 375 kW at 6 000-6 500 r/min
Torque: 625 N.m at 2 500-5 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 5,3 seconds
Fuel consumption: 13,8 L/100 km
CO2: 321 g/km
Top speed: 250 km/h
Maintenance plan: 5 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: 26 000 km
*According to the manufacturer
- 3,0 V6 SC S: R824 500
- 3,0 V6 SC HSE: R1 057 100
- 3,0 SDV6 S: R885 800
- 3,0 SDV6 HSE: R1 151 300
- 5,0 V8 SC HSE Dynamic: R1 263 600
All models come standard with a 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan and 3-year paint and 6-year corrosion warranty. Service intervals are either every 26 000 km or every 12 months.
Article written by CAR magazine