Having recently driven the latest Range Rover Vogue, and been very impressed by it, I was looking forward to seeing what the Sport could bring to the party, and was very pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, the Sport benefits from having the new all aluminium platform which it now shares with its big brother, the ‘Vogue’, resulting in its weighing up to 420 kg less than the old car, using less fuel, but going faster!
This is not a combination achieved by many cars, especially 4WDs, and the new Sport also looks better, being slightly larger, with a longer wheel base, making the new model more comfortable and more stylish, and better ‘off-road’ than its predecessor which I always thought looked slightly ‘box-like’.
It now looks more refined and sophisticated, even ‘tasteful’, which has greatly broadened its appeal. It is also noticeably faster, and has a fantastic ‘turning circle’, making it much more maneuverable than its big brother.
It is an absolute delight to drive, and climbing ‘up’ into a Range Rover is one of the great pleasures of motoring, because of the commanding driving position, and being surrounded by a truly luxurious interior which is the result of the huge investment in the Range Rover ‘marque’ by its Indian owners TATA.
The Sport has an extensive and expensive list of ‘extras’ culminating in JLR’s Meridian Hi-Fi system, which has now been eclipsed by the Super Premium 1700W audio System at £5000!
There are also plenty of optional extras to entertain the passengers, including TV and DVD, and the whole rear seat entertainment system is a little over £1500.
So, given that we were so impressed with its on-road performance, how did it perform off-road?
Well, we were lucky enough to have been given permission to film a shoot in Hulne Park, a walled park covering several thousand acres which belongs to the Duke of Northumberland and is close to Alnwick Castle.
Originally a hunting park, and still used by the Duke for shooting, it now contains woods, moors, stretches of open grassland and Alnwick’s home farm.
Hulne Priory was the filming location of Maid Marion’s home in the film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’, so where better to put the Range Rover Sport through its paces in this wonderful landscape, and, as you will see from the photographs, the park offered us numerous opportunities to test the Sport in some of the most challenging off-road conditions, and it came through each test with full colours, thus reinforcing the impact of this new ‘Sport’ model.
There are several engine options from the basic SDV6 diesel, or a more powerful 4SDV8 diesel, or a 5 litre supercharged V8 petrol engine, but quite honestly, ‘who cares’? because the most popular SDV6 Diesel will get you to 60mph in less than 7 seconds (6.8 to be precise).
Emissions are 199g/km of CO2 which equates to average fuel consumption of nearly 33 mpg over 600 miles, which is not bad for a 2 tonne 4WD!
So, what is the Competition?
The most successful Top 5 Sports SUVs are:-
- Range Rover Sport
- Porsche Cayenne
- Mercedes Benz ‘M’ Class
- BMW X5
- Infiniti FX
Firstly, the new Range Rover Sport has better looks than any competitor, and the interior is, quite literally ‘in a class of its own’, as is the stereo system.
We were fortunate to have this new Sport long enough to really test it in almost every type of driving conditions, including two gruelling days of off-road, and it performed impeccably, despite its rather ‘urban’ looks with its glossy ‘jet-black’ exterior and smoked glass rear windows, which made us look like South American drug barons, although the most intoxicating substances we were transporting were Sloe Gin and Champagne, a combination known to the shooting community as a ‘Sloegasm’!
The new Sport combines improved looks with significant advances in the performance and handling of this superlative 4WD, and is fast establishing a reputation for being practical as well as pretty to look at, so that, even the ‘doubters’ have to concede that Range Rover have taken the Sport to new levels of sophistication and performance.
As a shooting man, my only criticism is that the Sport has no tailgate on which to perch when putting on, or taking off boots, or enjoying a drink, which has always been a great attraction of the Range Rover.
However, this did not prevent me from being slowly seduced by this truly impressive new model,with its greatly improved looks and performance.
Robert Jarman, Founder and Editor of The Vintage Magazine.