Racy Range Rover full of sport
Luxury and driving dynamics on display in its latest SUV
First Drive: Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport has continued to be a successful seller for Land Rover, with in excess of 415,000 units sold since it was first launched in 2005. Despite the severe downturn in the global economy they have continued to increase their sales, with 2013 representing the highest amount of new Range Rover Sport sales to date.
Land Rover has taken some of the dynamic qualities from the chic Evoque and luxuries of the all-new Range Rover to create a truly inspiring all-new Range Rover Sport. Visually, there are clues to this inter-breeding, the headlights and taillights, along with the rear roof spoiler hint at its smaller sibling, the Evoque, the interior is spacious and luxurious in a similar vein to the larger, full fat Range Rover.
The result is a stylish, luxurious but very capable sport SUV that has its own strengths to clearly create a unique niche between its close relatives. It’s dissimilar to its predecessor, with 75 per cent of its parts having been changed.
When the Range Rover Sport arrives in Ireland this coming September, customers can choose from one petrol and two diesel-powered variants. These will be followed by the introduction of a new hybrid model. The entry-level 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel offers a sufficient 258hp and 600Nm of torque.
The 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel unit has an increased power output, with 292hp, interestingly it has the same torque figure as the TDV6 variant. The petrol-powered Range Rover Sport has a colossal 5.0-litre V8 engine, which is supercharged to deliver a remarkable 510hp. All models are equipped with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. We recently drove both the 5.0-litre supercharged and 3.0-litre SDV6 variants.
There’s no mistaking which model you’re seated in when you press the start button, there’s a distinct snarl from the V8 petrol engine as it bursts into life. The acceleration is pretty mind blowing for a vehicle of this size and weight (2,310kg), it’s capable of reaching 100km/h from a standstill in a mere 5.3 seconds and go on to a limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Although the Supercharged Sport boasts undoubtedly impressive performance figures, it’s more suited to the American market and will go head to head with Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo. In Ireland only the super wealthy will purchase one to gain bragging rights amongst friends. In reality, the pick of the crop is the 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel model, it’s a gem of an engine with sufficient performance on offer at all times. In fact, it has almost the same torque as the audacious Supercharged variant (600Nm Vs 625Nm).
We drove the SDV6 model finished in the opulent Autobiography trim, which comes equipped with all the luxuries anyone could require. The interior is lavish and spacious, with a significantly lengthened wheelbase over its predecessor (increased by 178mm) there is improved legroom for rear seat passengers.
You can also order the Sport with an optional 5+2 seating arrangement, with 2 small seats that fold flat electrically into the boot floor. The driving position is commanding, although lower than its elder sibling the Range Rover. Official fuel consumption figures haven’t been announced, that said we averaged 8.2l/100km (34.4mpg) over the course of our test drive which included on and off-road driving. Land Rover claims an improvement in fuel efficiency across the range by up to seven per cent.
When you select Dynamic mode, this alters the roll resistance, steering, transmission and throttle settings to deliver a sharper, sportier driving experience. When you couple in the torque vectoring system, which distributes torque to the wheels with the most grip, the Range Rover Sport can tackle fast twisty sections of road with the poise and accuracy of a car half its weight.