While the first generation Range Rover Sport was a weighty impostor sat on a Discovery chassis, this new model is based on its aluminium big brother. In SDV6 format, the Sport badge suddenly makes sense
Standing next to the Range Rover Sport SDV6, it remains a big thing. We all know that this second gen of Sport is a totally different proposition from its forebear, a Discovery-based bauble for the people of Cheshire that was about as sporty as Chatsworth House. The bumf will tell you that the Range Rover Sport is more than 7cwt (880lb) lighter than it preceding equivalent, and that it’s shorter and lower than its big brother, the L405 Range Rover, to which the RR Sport owes its classy look. But it’s still huge. I’m already doubting it will deserve that Sport tag before I’ve fired up the engine. However, that’s not what’s discomfiting me most.
It’s when you look at the price tag that the comedy, OTT throat swallow for effect, comes in. There’s no area at all I can complain about with the looks of this Chile Red example, albeit I think the proportions of the bigger Range Rover work slightly better than the truncated rear overhang on this model. But to get all the nice interior magubbins and exterior fripperies like gangsta 22-inch rims, you need to be thinking a bit bigger than the HSE. This is a top-spec Autobiography Dynamic, which starts at – starts at, mind! – £74,995. For a diesel SUV that’s not even the biggest vehicle in its parent company’s range. Altogether now… gulp.
The thing is, you have to kind of view the Sport as a luxury car alternative, just like the bigger Range Rover has been for years. This is no X5 or Merc GL rival; it’s a high-riding S-Class, if you like. So presumably, with that in mind, you won’t be alarmed if I now tell you that OE13 HTX has a Hyundai i10’s worth of options fitted. A total of £10,150, to be precise, half of which is wiped away by the Super Premium Audio System 1700w, a nice round five grand. Crikey! The cooled and heated front and rear seats are £500, the onboard TV £800, rear seat entertainment £1,500… I could go on. But I won’t.
This loading of press cars is not abnormal but it does show that, even though its trim line is supposed to be the bells’n’whistles version, you can still ruin yourself ticking a load of options boxes, so that you’re left with a Sport costing £85,145. This is hardly chicken feed. And, more confusingly, the bigger Range Rover hovers around these prices – for example, a Vogue SE TDV6 Range Rover is £77,910. So, we’re perhaps not off to the best start here. The Sport remains colossal and it’s a long way from inexpensive.
I therefore hope you can understand me when I say that, thankfully, the RR Sport feels worth every one of those many, many pounds and a bit more besides. It’s wonderful. A beautiful thing to sit in, the dash architecture is similar to the bigger Rangie’s but you can already sense the more ‘sporty’ vibe here. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the steering wheel, which is smaller on the Sport. I love the TFT dials behind said wheel (this is only for higher spec cars, though, so don’t buy a basic RR Sport and feel deflated when you get analogue items), I like the chairs which really grip my flabby sides, I like the mix of shapes and textures everywhere, and that you can’t find a cheap-feeling or looking plastic anywhere.
That is, until you go for the gearshift paddles. They need more weight in them to really feel pleasurable to use, and they could do with being metal, if I’m honest, to better fit in with the general grandiose ambience. Mind you, it’s no big issue – you don’t really use them as the eight-speed auto is a peach when left to its own devices, and the eagle-eyed among you will have noted the car has a proper gearstick anyway, instead of one of those rotary Jag Land Rover selectors, via which you can click up and down the gears.
I don’t think you can truly hustle something with a centre of gravity on the fourth floor, but the RR Sport seems happy to charge along a bit quicker than the country set might drive it. That’s because it has fancy adjustable settings due to being a Dynamic, allowing you to firm up such things as steering and dampers according to the terrain your Sport is tackling. Whatever the mode, though, the car is accomplished. The steering is naturally light to mask the RR Sport’s bulk but the throttle response is fine and the near-300bhp six never struggles to move the 41 2/5cwt (4663lb, 2115kg ) ensemble about. In fact, it’s more than suitably brisk – it kept a charging Camaro 6.2 V8 in sight on one straight. There’s a precision about all the major controls which means placing the Sport isn’t a sweaty-palmed affair, and finally the Sport badge on the rump doesn’t stick in your craw when you’re telling someone what you’re driving.
The fact it is 8½cwt (955lb, 433kg) lighter than its predecessor is one reason for its much more entertaining dynamics, but the aluminium monocoque developed from the full-size Range Rover is stiffer too, which means the Sport is a pretty decent thing. Don’t believe it’s going to handle like a hot hatch – Land Rover is on the crest of a wave right now but I don’t think I can recall an announcement in which it claimed it can defy the laws of physics – but also don’t believe it wallows around in mediocrity. It’s a very capable machine.
It becomes a real winner, though, when doing what every Rangie, Sport or not, is supreme at on road: namely, soothing away the outside world and making you feel like you really are one of the highfalutin folk of these Sceptred Isles. It has faultless ride quality, even on those gargantuan 22s, which it couples with utter serenity in terms of wind, road and engine noise – they’re all banished from the cabin at lower revs. The aforementioned ZF 8HP70 gearbox is so seamless in moving from one ratio to another that I for one daft minute believed it was a single gear, akin to the sort of thing fitted to an electric car. And that V6 up front doesn’t transmit any shudders whatsoever into the cabin.
The net result of all this is that the Sport effortlessly dispatches whatever distance you care to drive it over, in no small part thanks to a mammoth 442lbf.ft of creamy torque. Maybe that should be its sub-name: Range Rover Effortless. It’s an absolute delight to be in no matter what your speed or the conditions, and whether it can adequately lap a racetrack or not, its on-road manners are impeccable. By all accounts, it remains a true Range Rover off the blacktop too, although I had no chance to test this assertion. Insert your own smirking gag here about the fact that most of them will only go ‘off-road when they’re parked on a kerb in Chelsea’ if you must…
In summary, the new RR Sport misses out on top marks here purely on the basis that I would still prefer a full-size Range Rover instead, and at the near-£100,000 mark I’d get a pretty decent L405 – the list prices of the Sport could perhaps have been trimmed a bit to further differentiate two cars that are much closer together in overall concept than they ever have been. However, if you think a full fat Range Rover is a bit too bulky and soft, I wouldn’t blame you picking a Range Rover Sport instead – there isn’t a 4×4 from another car maker that gets anywhere close to its imperious feelgood factor. We heartily approve.
Tech Spec Range Rover Sport SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic
- Body Front-engined five-door SUV
- Engine 2993cc 24v turbocharged diesel V6
- Transmission 4WD, eight-speed automatic
- 0-62mph 6.9 seconds
- Top speed 130mph
- Max power 288bhp @ 4000rpm
- Max torque 442lbf.ft @ 2000rpm
- Fuel consumption 37.7mpg (claimed combined)
- CO2 emissions 199g/km
- Price from £74,995 (for Autobiography Dynamic; Sport range starts at £51,550 with SE model)
The Truth & Nothing But…
Range Rover Sport SDV6 Autobiography Dynamic
+ Looks good inside and out, ride and handling in another galaxy compared to predecessor, shouldn’t have as much of a Footballers’ Wives image this time around, feels genuinely sporty
– It’s expensive and it’s still not that lightweight compared to its big brother
∴ Residual Premiere League image means we’d spend a bit more and have a full-fat Range Rover