The Land Rover is growing from strength to strength and the iconic Range Rover model has been at the top of the game for many decades thanks to a peerless image and steady progressive evolution, does the all new Range Rover Sport continue the heritage of the best regarded 4×4 brand in the world?
I will make no bones about the fact I adore the Land Rover brand and have done so for more years than I care to remember. Nothing in the world comes close to holding a candle to the pedigree and legacy of the green oval badge and despite going through its fair share of parent owners in the last 25 years, its still the benchmark other manufacturers aspire to. The all new Sport model is aimed squarely at the luxury leisure end of the car market and despite these tough financial times, the Range Rover remains a popular vehicle.
The model tested features the turbine smooth SDV6 engine that tips the scales at 3.0 litres in capacity and is mated to an 8 speed ZF computer controlled automatic gearbox that promises an unruffled experience. Of course, being just short of £75.000 one would expect nothing but the best in terms of refinement and overall quality, an initial walk around the car gives no cause for concern. The sheen and finish of the Chile red paintwork looks great as do the 22″ split spoke alloys that give you just the right glance of the Brembo braking system.
…certainly has that kerbside appeal in spades – cleverly done with style and good taste!
Paying close attention to the panels and exterior trim, the build quality seems to be consistent and well crafted – you certainly get a hint of the engineering led design approach behind the latest generation of Land Rover products. The glass has no ripples or flaws, everything lines up with impressive accuracy and gaps in the metalwork are aligned with precision. First external impressions are very good indeed and the new Range Rover Sport certainly has that all important kerbside appeal in spades – cleverly done with style and good taste.
Its a good jump up into the commanding driving position but worth it once settled into the well upholstered seat. Even though the Sport is notably smaller than the Range Rover itself there is still more than enough space to use both in the front or back. The Ebony and Lunar interior trim fitted to this Autobiography model is dark and moody as the description explains yet manages to capture well the accent of a sporting feel. A panoramic sunroof admits more natural light into the cabin if you slide back the perforated blind but the stealthy feeling is best appreciated with it closed.
The car featured a super premium audio system (£5000 option) and on board television with rear mounted LCD screens (£800 option) which may seem excessive to some but be warned, the sound quality is quite special and a car like this deserves to have an individual touch – its quite a spectacular audio visual package. Every possible usable feature is included such as dual zone front and rear climate, electrically adjustable leather seats, full media interface for the audio, cruise control and Land Rovers impressive selectable traction programme.
For such a wide bulky car it almost shrinks… its such an easy to pilot and creeping around at urban speeds feels lithe and smooth.
Firing up the 3.0V6 diesel makes a wonderful noise for an oil burner and the mechanical refinement inside the cabin leaves no cause for concern. Once on the move the ZF 8HP70 gearbox slides up and down the gearbox with such a lack of sensation when using a light throttle, you would almost think you were flying at 30.000 feet in Club class – which in fact you kind of really are. For such a wide bulky car it almost shrinks owing to the fact its such an easy craft to pilot and creeping around at urban speeds feels lithe and smooth.
The sporting set up of the suspension at low speeds is a nicely balanced compromise of taught and controlled agility, taking city corners with gutso finds no wallow or roll. Sure its no Rolls Royce and it doesn’t seemingly float on a cloud as it traverses ruts and bumps but equally it avoids rattling your loose change or fillings – Land Rover have excelled in the suspension department. Get out of town and onto the quicker roads finds the Range Rover Sport rewarding and able in the bends, as mentioned before, it almost seems to shrink in size.
You can really wring its neck out the open road, the roadholding and steering is just sublime for a car of this stature and weight. For sure its no Caterham so far as response and steering feedback goes but you can really have some fun through the apex and the massive brakes scrub off the velocity in split second time. No issues regarding performance either, the car simply builds up momentum with a grin inducing muffled roar as the revs climb – but once again, there is nothing to really intrude into your environment.
…the muted roar heralds the distant vantage point rush towards you with impressive pace.
High speed cruising is a relaxing affair and when requested to, the kick down is blink quick and the muted roar heralds the distant vantage point rush towards you with impressive pace. Land Rover claim a zero to 60 timing of 6.8 seconds – and I have no reason to doubt that nor do I doubt the claimed maxima of 130mph either. On the move or lurking around the urban jungle, the Range Rover sport is a joy to experience in a true Jekyll and Hyde manner – look it as a car for all occasions if you like.
More importantly, its practical, alarmingly quick, surprisingly agile, wonderfully styled while oozing charm and class but still manages to be ever so slightly restrained and not anywhere is there the merest hint of vulgarity. The last pointer is what makes the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport so special and appreciated in all corners of the world – its simply wonderful and its far from cheap, but at the end of the day you only get what you pay for!
OUR SCORE? – 10/10
Engine: Land Rover 3 litre SDV6 Turbo diesel with stop start technology – 288BHP
Transmission: ZF 8HP70 Eight speed automatic gearbox with selectable shift mode and paddle change facility – permanent four wheel drive & ECU controlled.
Obstacle clearance and wading depth off road: 265mm / 850mm
Brakes: Brembo all round vented discs with performance callipers ABS/ EBD
Suspension: ECU controlled air suspension with selectable terrain function.
Fuel Consumption & CO2 Emissions: 41.5mpg combined & 199g/Km
List Price: £74.995 OTR excluding options.
THE HIGHS: Stunning presence – Tastefully trimmed – Immense performance – Well equipped – Good Handling and ride – Practical – Comfort.
The LOWS: Expensive price tag – Thirsty when driven hard – Fellow motoring jealousy – Optional extra list gets very costly once you start customising.
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