Wednesday 27th March 2013


NEW RANGE ROVER SPORT: OFFICIAL

All-new Range Rover Sport officially unveiled in all its aluminium glory


Given that the window tinting business is supposedly about privacy and discretion it's a bitter irony for Land Rover that the new Range Rover Sport's cover was blown last week by the firm hired to black the windows out for the launch promo film. The guy in question had been employed to prep the Sport for its glitzy top secret debut on the streets of New York and the Land Rover PR team will be wishing he'd practised a little of what his profession preaches. While fantasising about what a Casino Royale-mode Daniel Craig - the man behind the tint in the launch film created for the launch event - might be able to do to him given some quiet time in a darkened Brooklyn lock-up.

Hints of Evoque but Sport is much more butch
Hints of Evoque but Sport is much more butch
Thankfully PH was simply a conduit for the broadcast of Tint Dude's indiscretion so our ticket to the New York unveiling remained valid. And Craig on a charm offensive, rather than a vendetta against embargo-busters. More on this in due course. But what about the new Sport?

Well, er, we knew what it looked like already...

Which is to say a lower, meaner new-school Range Rover with a little Evoque-ing of the nose that, according to Land Rover's design chief Gerry McGovern, "puts the S into SUV."

Coming to a Waitrose car park/school run/etc near you soon, the new Range Rover Sport is a very different beast to its Discovery-derived predecessor. Perhaps despite, rather than because of, those underpinnings, the previous Sport was a surprisingly satisfying steer, offering it a lifeline of respectability in spite of those footballer, TOWIE and yummy mummy stereotypes.

Aluminium build means a near half tonne saving
Aluminium build means a near half tonne saving
Competition has gotten stiffer, though, and the new Sport takes the latest aluminium Range Rover as its basis, pocketing a resulting weight saving of circa 420kg into the bargain. And alhough developed alongside its big brother, Land Rover boasts just 25 per cent shared componentry. Where to pitch it along the sportiness scale, though, given the much stiffer competition it now faces?

Range Rover has - wisely - avoided a direct confrontation with the likes of the Cayenne and X6 and maintained proper 4x4 cred as its USP. For starters, the engines are the familiar JLR V6 diesel, now with 258hp and 292hp in S spec (up from 211 and 256hp), and the 510hp supercharged petrol V8. A diesel hybrid, a 339hp diesel V8 and - shock horror! - a four-cylinder will follow. The eight-speed ZF auto and start-stop will feature across the range; ditto much-revised air suspension with plenty of new features and, at 260mm front and 272mm rear, claims Land Rover, around 60-70mm more travel than most rivals. That huge weight loss and lighter, more direct electric power steering should transform the driving experience too.

Wheelbase is a significant 178mm longer
Wheelbase is a significant 178mm longer
The one chink in the Sport's previously indisputable proper 4x4 cred is that, for the first time, 'base' V6 models (some markets get the F-Type's 340hp supercharged V6) come as standard with a more basic '4x4 lite' powertrain.

This loses the low-range transfer case, swapping it for a more straightforward single-speed, Torsen diff-based four-wheel drive system. True, it saves 18kg and has a more rear-biased torque split as a default, but it does offer ammunition to those who accuse the Sport of being style over content. The take-up of the 'real' four-wheel drive option - standard on V8s - will be an interesting indication of whether the target audience gives a flying one or not.

Suitably equipped, it'll still do the proper mud-plugging thing of course, the Range Rover's Terrain Response 2 supplying an army of acronyms (automatically or manually selectable) that'll work with the extra 51mm of ground clearance and increased wading depth (an extra 150mm to 850mm) to take you places an X6 or Cayenne would fear to tread. A new intermediate +35mm ride height setting enables higher speeds - 50mph rather than 30mph - in off-road modes.

Overall size is only fractionally increased though
Overall size is only fractionally increased though
On the road, those pesky Germans still beat the Sport by the numbers, not least the Cayenne which delivers a 500hp sucker punch with the standard Turbo before landing a 550hp haymaker in uprated S form. It's no better in diesel form either, the 258hp Sport TDV6 at least a little ahead of the Cayenne Diesel and X6 30d - both with 245hp - but the forthcoming V8 lagging behind the V8 Cayenne S Diesel's 382hp and 627lb ft (yes, you read that right) with 'just' 339hp and 516lb ft. Even the six-cylinder X6 M50d has more power and, like the Porsche, humbles the TDV8's 6.5-second 0-62mph sprint with healthily sub-six times.

Prices start at 51,550 for the TDV6, SDV6s from 59,995 and the V8 supercharged from 81,550. Diesels are pricey compared with German rivals - the X6 30d starting at 47,215 and even the thumping Cayenne S Diesel costing a relatively reasonable 58,243. The supercharged Sport fairs better against the 87K Porsche charges for a Cayenne Turbo but the diesels will likely be the core.

On price and performance it's still more green wellies than running shoes then - just trendier, less workmanlike, more luxurious ones. You know, the type with sheepskin liners and a designer badge on the front and rarely seen with a speck of mud on them. The ones certain aspirational Home Counties folk self-consciously sport on the high street where, really, normal footwear would suffice were one not trying to make some sort of statement...










Author: Dan Trent
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