Range Rover Sport is now lighter and more driver-focused.
Following Range Rover's dramatic 400kg weight loss, Sport also gets a first-in-class aluminium bodyshell - helping it shed 420kg!
Sport's exterior styling is imposing and quite obviously a marriage between the highly fashionable baby Range Rover 'Evoque' and the daddy of them all, the full-size 'Range Rover'. Range Rover Sport is longer overall but has shorter overhangs. Sport sits on Range Rover's platform. Under the skin there is a four-wheel drive system that can virtually go anywhere off-road. Take to the road and Sport has serious performance potential that belies its big SUV body.
Inside is larger too, thanks to a longer wheelbase. The interior has been brought up to date and the controls are less cluttered. The simplified switchgear and dash layout echoes the brilliant 'full fat' Range Rover's. A wide choice of soft leather and interior trim materials is available, from brushed metal to wood.
Behind the wheel the view is imperial, even though you sit lower than in the outgoing car. The adjustable air suspension can be raised for improved ground clearance with the press of a switch. It also allows the occupants to look down on other SUVs.
The big news is that for the first time the five-seat Sport is available as a seven-seater (5+2). This versatility is a great addition. There are lots of toys available but audiophiles in particular will love the 'Meridian' 3D surround sound system. It features 23 speakers and delivers a magnificent sound.
The engine range features two three-litre V6 diesels (TD and SD) and two petrol engines: a 340hp, three-litre V6 with 450nm and a five-litre, supercharged V8 with 510hp and 625nm. The expected big seller entry diesel delivers a massive 258hp and 600nm of torque - great news for owners of horseboxes. The SD pushes out a bit more horsepower at 292hp but delivers the same colossal amount of pulling power: 600nm. And yet the Solihull-built machine can deliver over 37mpg!
On the road our SDV6 test car can sprint from 0-100km in just 7.2 seconds - as in all big machines this feels a hell of a lot quicker from the cockpit. The automatic gearbox is smooth and blisteringly quick shifting. A sequential manual shift is a first in the Sport, plus there are steering wheel paddle shifts for more enthusiastic driving. When you press on you can really feel the benefit of the huge weight reduction and suspension revisions.
A host of driving aids also contributes to make driving the Sport a far more rewarding experience. Even the engine soundtrack has been modified to give greater feedback when you press hard on the 'go' peddle. When you turn the new smaller steering wheel Sport feels more precise on the road. This nimbleness is very impressive in a machine this size. Should you find yourself traversing water - as you do - there is a new wading depth sensor that does what it says on the tin. Sport can wade through an improved depth of 850mm (+150mm).
Since Sport's introduction in 2005, over 380,000 units have been sold. The latest Sport comes in four grades: S, SE, HSE and Autobiography. Further 'Dynamic' versions of the top two grades are available. Prices start at €82,200. A hybrid is on the way and a four-cylinder-powered version is also on the cards.
Range Rover Sport is a dynamic machine that can really hustle along. Sport is a highly desirable car that has a youthful appeal.