When you think you’re too cool for the Vogue…
The Range Rover Sport, when it first debuted, was a bit of a charlatan. For starters, it wasn’t really a Range Rover, with most of its drivetrain and underpinnings shared with the Land Rover Discovery of that period. And it wasn’t a ‘Sport’ of any form either, with enough lean in corners to give that tower in Pisa a run for its money. The interior felt a little cut-price too (for a Range Rover, at least), and it didn’t feel like much of a step-up from the Discovery.
It’s all different now, though. The new Range Rover Sport now sits on its own aluminium monocoque chassis, sharing greater resemblance to the contemporary Range Rover than anything else. It’s sleeker now too, and promises a driving experience that befits the ‘Sport’ suffix on the rear. It also fully deserves to be called a Range Rover too, with off-road ability that will put most, if not all of its competitors to shame. It also boasts an interior that’s properly plush, as it should, for the prices it’s commanding.
The Range Rover Sport is available as a S, SE, HSE, HSE Dynamic, Autobiography Dynamic, and tops off at the scorching SVR high-performance variant. There’s even a Hybrid model, though this is certainly not the model we’d recommend…
“More than ever, the Sport looks like a companion to the Range Rover—but it also wears some details influenced by the smaller, more slinky Evoque. The slim nose, winged headlamps, the dramatic roofline drop are all inspired by the Evoque.” - The Car Connection
When the current generation Range Rover Sport debuted at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, motoring critics around the world heaved a collective sigh of relief. Finally, the Range Rover Sport was no longer an abomination to the Range Rover brand; Instead, it was now a sleek, sporty, and entirely capable model, remarkable in its own right. Its positioning (at the time) between the Range Rover and the Evoque meant that it rightfully bore styling of both cars, to great effect.
The slim, wide headlights meet a similarly-proportioned grille in between, with muscular wheel arches flanking the clamshell bonnet. Follow the sleek roof backward, and you’re greeted with a perk rear, with relatively small taillights and large ‘Range Rover’ lettering across the hatch. Unlike the bigger Range Rover, the Sport gets a one-piece tailgate (as opposed to the split-folding tailgate that the full-fat Range Rover is famous for). It’s ineffable, but the Range Rover Sport manages to balance its inherent Range Rover-ness with a proper sense of sportiness, even before you get to the red-hot SVR variants.
The athletic shape of the Range Rover Sport is built on an aluminium frame, resulting in remarkable weight-savings over the outgoing model. That lithe frame gives the Range Rover Sport an athleticism that you can see, especially with its raised flanks and flatter windscreen.
Engine & Drivetrain
“At any speed, in any specification, the Range Rover Sport is an impeccably refined, quiet car. It’s even – given its weight – respectably economical.” - Autocar
The second-generation Range Rover Sport improved over the outgoing model massively, and with it, brought along a range of new and improved engines to keep the big bruiser chugging along nicely. With engine options ranging from an amazingly-frugal (albeit somewhat underpowered) 2.0-litre turbodiesel in the SD4 up to the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol in the SVR, the Range Rover Sport lineup offers enough choices for everyone to find a comfortable fit.
Of the range, the diesel V6 and V8 engines are of particular note, blending considerable performance with reasonable fuel economy. The smaller 3.0-litre V6 oiler puts out a healthy 215kW & 600Nm, which pulls the Sport along at considerable pace while sipping just 7.5L/100km on the combined cycle. This engine is best around town, as it can feel a little taxed out on the open road, especially when fully-laden or overtaking. The best engine choice for day-to-day use is certainly the 4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel, which may only put out 250kW (35kW more than the V6 diesel), but manages a staggering 700Nm of torque (up a whole 100Nm). This gives the Range Rover Sport the grunt it deserves, with towing and overtaking handled deftly, and without complaint.
Naturally, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged SVR deserves mention, if for nothing more than its monstrous engine. Under the bonnet lives a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol motor, capable of an astounding 405kW & 680Nm, which is as good at generating great speed as it is at making a biblical racket. Though it’s quoted as doing just 12.8L/100km on the combined cycle, fuel consumption figures like these are nothing more than a pipe dream when behind the wheel of a Sport SVR. We advise spending less time worrying about the fuel bills, and more time enjoying the V8 rumble.
“The cabin of all models is a masterpiece.” - CarAdvice
The interior of the Range Rover Sport is, like the exterior, a great balance between the luxury of a Range Rover and the sportiness of a… uh, Sport. The cabin design is very heavily influenced by the bigger Range Rover, with things like a fully digital instrument display and a rotary gear selector adding a degree of flash and sparkle. Every switch feels well-engineered, and every surface soft to the touch. This is a Range Rover, after all.
That said, the Sport is getting a little long in the tooth. With the introduction of the new Range Rover Velar, the Range Rover Sport’s age is starting to come through. The infotainment system feels old, laggy, and dated compared to the newer systems from the Jaguar-Land Rover group. That said, the Range Rover Sport’s more cocooned driving position is at least unique in the lineup, with nothing else in the range offering this sort of driving experience.
The Range Rover Sport hides a secret weapon though, tucked behind the second row of seats. Back there, in the cavernous boot, hides two extra seats for when you need to carry a couple of extra passengers that have come along for the ride. This means that if you want a Range Rover badge and seven seats, the Sport is as high up the ladder as you can go: The bigger Range Rover does without a third row.
Behind the Wheel
“The balance is spot on, it never feels top-heavy or vague, and generally has control and composure that would amaze those who dismiss it as a big, heavy 4x4.” - AutoExpress
Brand purists were bothered to a great degree by the first-generation Range Rover Sport, as it had neither the off-road chops of a Range Rover nor the on-road prowess that the ‘Sport’ moniker alluded to. That changed with the current generation though, with its aluminium monocoque frame and ‘Dynamic’ suspension setup. On sealed surfaces, the Range Rover Sport feels unflappable, even at ridiculously high speeds. There’s a great degree of body control and agility that the previous generation simply didn’t have, so much so that it doesn’t even feel out of place on a race track. The steering, while light and easily operable at town speeds, weights up nicely as speed climbs.
The amount of comfort on offer in the Range Rover Sport is nothing short of amazing, easily besting rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 for ride quality. The relative heft of the thing (while lighter than its predecessor, it’s no featherweight) means that it shrugs off potholes and surface imperfections with ease, and allows the Sport to lope over long distances without any fuss.
While the Porsche Cayenne may outdo the Sport in outright on-road ability, the Sport leaves everything but a Jeep Grand Cherokee for dead when the going gets rough.
Safety & Technology
“What once seemed state-of-the-art can soon start to look dated…” - Telegraph UK
With up to seven available seats in the Range Rover Sport, this is clearly a family wagon. As such, safety and technology are a major priority, as not to upset Chelsea soccer mums and see them discount the Sport as the school-run car of choice. Autonomous emergency braking is a standard inclusion in the Range Rover Sport… uh, range, along with things like ISOFIX tethers for child seats, rear collision warning, reversing camera, pretensioning seatbelts, and electronic stability systems as standard.
Technology is well catered for too, with the InControl Touch handling the infotainment, while driver safety equipment includes things like lane departure warning, flashing emergency brake lights (when the car detects an emergency stop or a collision, to prevent further collisions), and vehicle dynamic assistance. There’s plenty of optional kit on offer, like adaptive cruise control, 360º parking cameras, 4-zone climate control, park assist, and even a 19-speaker audio system. We advise caution with that options list though: Option too many, and you’ll soon see the list price to your Range Rover Sport climb to truly remarkable levels.
The Range Rover Sport is finally a full-fledged Range Rover, and one that properly deserves the ‘Sport’ moniker that its predecessor never lived up to. It’s better looking, more agile, and more plush than the car it replaces, and puts it firmly in contention with other luxury SUVs in this end of the market. While outright dynamism may be lost to the Porsche Cayenne, and outright space (for cargo and people) to the Volvo XC90, the Range Rover Sport is a middle-ground that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve had to compromise in any area, and that’s an astounding achievement.
While the lineup can confuse at first, we can simplify it for you: If performance is your bag, the SVR is without question. But otherwise, the V6 and V8 diesels are all you’ll need, with the latter being the one to go for if your budget allows for it. Both oilers are buttery smooth and offer enough performance for any occasion, while never returning eye-watering fuel figures (like the petrols do). And with little penalty to pay by way of refinement, you’d have to really dislike diesel to disregard them.
CarAdvice - 9.0/10 - “Just as the Volkswagen Golf does in the small car class, the Range Rover Sport offers all things to all people shopping in this loftier, six-figure atmosphere.”
The Car Connection - 8.2/10 - “Blending sport and utility like almost no other SUV, the Range Rover Sport is impressive in any configuration.”
Autocar - 4.5/5.0- “There is a place for the consummate all-rounder, like the Range Rover Sport, in every dream garage. The Range Rover Sport is that sort of car, the one with the go-anywhere, anytime, every-time capability, which also blends into most places you take it. It eases into your life. Make no mistake, this is an extremely impressive car.”
WhatCar - 4.0/5.0 - “Some rivals are faster and more fun to drive, but few are as comfortable or as refined as the Range Rover Sport.”
AutoExpress - 5.0/5.0 - “If you can afford to run it, the Range Rover Sport is a hugely capable SUV which combines luxury, performance, and unbeaten off-road ability.”
Telegraph UK - 8.0/10 - “There aren’t many questions that the Range Rover Sport doesn’t answer with complete conviction. It is fast, quiet, comfortable and fun to drive. However, fuel economy can’t compete with rivals, and there are still question marks about Land Rover’s reliability record.”
TopGear UK - 9.0/10 - “A superb sporting seven-seater. No other SUV has such a range of ability.”
Kelly Blue Book - 8.8/10 - “Exclusivity and capability are Land Rover hallmarks, and with its available diesel engine and 7-passenger seating, it even nods toward practicality. On the other hand, equip it with the supercharged V8, and the Range Rover Sport gives the Porsche Cayenne a run for its money.”