Like a cross between an Evoque and a full-sized Range Rover the all-new Range Rover Sport looks just right

Like a cross between an Evoque and a full-sized Range Rover the all-new Range Rover Sport looks just right

Range Rover Sport sometimes confuses people. It’s not a standard Range Rover with ‘Sport’ badges and a firmed up suspension and some go-faster bits, rather it’s a model in its own right.

Like big brother Range Rover the all-new Range Rover Sport has been on a serious diet. Compared with the previous generation Sport the new one is as much as 420 kg lighter, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in both the body and suspension. Also to clever computer design work that minimises the amount of material required to provide the correct strength and safety.

Range Rover Sport shows elements of design cues developed in the Range Rover Evoque, particularly the rising shoulder line and diving roofline. The result is a shape that’s midway between Evoque and the full-on Range Rover.

Naturally, the traditional ‘castellations’ on the bonnet are still there, though toned down on the originals of almost 50 years ago when the Rangie was first introduced to a startled 4WD world.

The interior is beautifully crafted, with soft-finish materials that give a real feeling of luxury. The driver’s seat is similar to that in Evoque and there’s a good view over the long bonnet.

The steering wheel is smaller and thicker to give it a car-like feel. Similarly, the centre console is higher and more user-friendly. There’s even mood lighting and a huge panoramic glass roof.

Range Rover Sport comes with four engine options: a 190 kW 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel, a 215 kW SDV6 diesel, a new 250 kW 3.0-litre V6 and 375 kW 5.0-litre V8. Our test Rangie Sport was powered by the SDV6, probably the best compromise between performance and price.

In the pipeline are a V8 turbo-diesel, a diesel-electric hybrid, and probably a four cylinder model.

All engines sit in front of an eight-speed ZF automatic. Two 4WD systems are offered, a dual range system and a single range AWD that is 18 kg lighter than the tougher 4WD system. All models have a 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity as well as adaptive hill descent control.

The new Range Rover Sport is a five-seater but offers an optional third row of seating. The third row has a 50/50 split and folds flat into the floor with no loss of cargo area. It can even be specified with powered folding.

Rear seat passengers get more knee room than in the previous Sport and the cabin is slightly wider.

During the media launch of the new Range Rover Sport we spent time at Baskerville raceway in Tasmania. It was almost like an on-road vehicle, not a 4WD, taking corners with a minimum of body roll.

At that event we also took a Rangie Sport TDV6 SE off-road. It came with the single range AWD system, so there was no low range fall back. With the transmission handling the torque in first gear it performed well. That’s because the designers got the basics right: ground clearance, air suspension that lifts the body, the long wheel articulation and the Terrain Response 2 system dial that tunes the car for various off-road situations including grass, gravel, snow, mud/ruts, sand and rock.

We’ve just spent a pleasant week driving a Range Rover Sport in our home territory on the Gold Coast.

It’s a brilliant touring machine, providing the feel of a hotel room on wheels when cruising on motorways. Damping of noise, vibration and harshness on rough-and-ready Australian backroads is superb. Handling is much better than you would anticipate and electronic aids help you stay of trouble if you exceed its very high limits.

On the downside, this is a large vehicle and can be a real handful in tight parking situations. Assistance from numerous sensors and a rearview camera do help, but sometimes it’s simply too much car for the parking spot.

A genuine off-road vehicle that can tackle ultra tough conditions, but which can cruise at 250 km/h in the Northern Territory. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But the Range Rover Sport is equally capable at these extremes of driving.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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