There's a new baby in the royal British automotive empire of Land Rover. By George, it's the all-new Range Rover Sport.
It's the fastest Range Rover and comes with a choice of engines, including a ludicrously powerful 510-horsepower supercharged motor, plus more Rover-ness luxury and Star Wars-like technology.
Starting at $63,495, the 2014 Range Rover Sport is in a competitive set that includes the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class and G-Class models. Range Rover Sport is an upscale SUV that has two distinct characters: it is one part sports machine that can go from 0-to-60 mph in 5.0 seconds; and it is a true off-road expert, with higher ground clearance and greater water-fording depth than the Jeep Wrangler.
While built on the same chassis as the Range Rover, the Sport is comprised of 75 percent different parts. On the outside, the Sport has classic Range Rover proportions and styling. A low air dam includes integrated fog lights. Its aluminum body is 33 percent lighter, it rides on a chassis that has 25 percent greater body stiffness, with a 6 percent aerodynamic improvement. It rides on mud and snow tires so its owners are ready when the paved road turns to dirt, mud or ice.
A longer wheelbase and longer overall length is balanced by a nearly 6-inch reduction in height. The rear taillamps are more compact and bisected by twin horizontal lines.
Stepping inside, the driver is greeted with a cockpit-like environment with seats that are lower and more cosseted. The luxury cabin is finely appointed and has been given an updated treatment with sharper angles, straighter lines and cleaner surfaces. The center stack is higher to make it easier to reach controls and read gauges.
The front seats are heated and cooled with 14-way power adjustments; rear seats can be ordered with heating/cooling and adjustments, as well. There's a third-row set of two seats that aren't quite jump-seats, but also aren't meant for long-haul comfort.
Technologies include a rear camera and extensive sensor systems with lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, rear back-up assist, flank guard (for avoiding side damage when maneuvering around pillars in a garage, for example) and adaptive cruise control. There's also blind spot monitoring and an approach sensor for other cars that are closing in too fast.
The new 2014 Range Rover Sport comes with a choice of two powertrains. The new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 delivers 340 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque and a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 makes 510 horsepower and an enormous 461 lb.-ft. of torque. EPA miles per gallon estimates for the V-6 are 17 city/23 highway, while the V-8 is rated 14/19 mpg.
Both engines are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with stop/start fuel saving technology and come with permanent four-wheel drive. The V-6 version has a single-speed transfer case. The V-8 has a two-speed transfer case with a terrain response system that automatically engages traction and performance capabilities based on conditions that include: Auto, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl.
We drove both V-6 and V-8 versions of the Range Rover Sport on a road course of over 150 miles of highway, narrow and winding paved roads, along with a mid-day stop at a challenging and lengthy off-road course on a ranch. We had driven this brand-new model when it came to the U.S. market in 2005 and liked its dual-purpose prowess then. We were impressed with the capabilities of this all-new version that has upgraded every area of performance and, at the same time, has improved fuel economy.
We liked the great growl, swift acceleration, and road-handling qualities of the V-8, but thoroughly enjoyed the fast and sporting, but more quiet-mannered V-6. Also impressive is the RR Sport's stopping power, along with a cadre of top-flight safety technologies, including standard ventilated front and rear brakes, with Brembo front calipers on the V-8 model.
Stable handling comes from Land Rover's front SLA suspension with twin lower links and air springs that combines with the rear integral link suspension with air springs to help Range Rover Sport be more off-road ready. Standard are ABS, emergency brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brakes lights, corner brake control, hill descent control, gradient release control, hill start assist, dynamic stability control, traction and roll stability control.
Driving the Sport over the technical 4WD course, its approach, departure and breakover angles, as well its ground clearance and tight turning radius off-roading were laudable. Most notable is Land Rover's extraordinary terrain response system that does the work of a team of experts with notable and swift reaction, truly allowing the driver to go along for a safe and competent ride.
Copyright © 2013 Motor Matters
|Base price||$63,495 (as tested: $64,390)|
|Curb weight||4,727 lbs.|
|Epa mileage rating||17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||27.7 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||340 at 6500 rpm|
|Motor type||24-vlave Quad Cam supercharged V-6|
|Overall length||191.0 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||332 at 3500-5000 rpm|
|Vehicle type||7-passenger 4WD SUV|
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