Probably nobody needs reminding of the Range Rover Sport’s significance. More than a million have now been sold across two generations and 17 years, which is no mean feat for a car that a) has never been cheap and b) has never been short of rivals, either. So this third generation Sport is a huge new model for Range Rover, perhaps as important as the flagship revealed last year.
Reflecting that status, this new one really is all-new, from design to architecture and powertrains to interior. That said, much like the big boy Range Rover, there will be no mistaking this new Sport for anything other than an RRS. The design is described as “amplifying its unquestionable sporting and confident character” by Gerry McGovern, with the most obvious changes including the lights (using surface LED technology) and the bumpers. But those familiar Sport traits - short overhangs, steeply raked glazing and an “assertive” face - mean that, even though clearly new, nobody is going to mistake this car’s identity either.
The popularity of the ‘Dynamic’ spec for the previous car means it gets its own distinct look this time around, as seen in the red car here; there are unique bumpers with body-coloured-cladding, badges in ‘Matted Graphite Atlas’ and copper exterior highlights to deliver “the most dramatic interpretation of the Range Rover Sport formula.” Which would make the newly available 23-inch wheels almost obligatory, really.
This Sport is underpinned by the MLA-Flex platform, which it is claimed provides “up to 35 per cent higher torsional stiffness than the previous Range Rover Sport”, which never seemed to lack much in that regard. And although there’s not much change in its burly kerbweight - the petrols kick off at 2,265kg DIN, the diesels 2,315kg and the PHEVs 2,660kg - there is a host of new technology aimed at delivering a best-in-class driving experience.
The Sport has rear-axle steering for the very first time, to improve agility at low speed and stability when cruising, as well as 48-volt active roll control and Dynamic Air Suspension with switchable volume air springs. The really committed will be able to opt for a ‘Stormer Handling Pack’, the name a nod to that original 2004 concept, which bundles together the rear-axle steering with an electronic active diff, torque vectoring by braking and Dynamic Response Pro. Matt Becker has said the result is a “sportier character than ever before, with elevated luxury and refinement.”
That’s all just on-road, of course - the new Range Rover Sport’s off-road credentials haven’t been ignored. Terrain Response 2 now boasts Adaptive Off-Road Cruise Control (an evolution of All Terrain Progress Control), offering pre-set speeds to allow the driver to focus on steering, as well as Configurable Terrain Response and even a Wade Mode for the perfect bow wave. The vital numbers here are a maximum ground clearance of 281mm, a maximum articulation of 546mm, an approach angle of 33 degrees, a breakover angle of 26.9 degrees and a departure angle of 30 degrees. All of those take a small dent if you opt for a Dynamic model (with those sportier bumpers) or a PHEV (with the batteries more vulnerable.)
Speaking of which, it’s probably time to get on with powertrains. Like the larger Range Rover, an electric Sport is coming, though not for a couple of years yet. At launch buyers will be offered two PHEV models, matching a straight-six petrol with 105kW motor and 38.2kWh battery, alongside a mild-hybrid petrol, two MHEV diesels and the twin-turbo 4.4 V8 flagship. All are familiar from existing models, though a few stats are worth repeating.
Both P440e and P510e hybrids are expected to deliver 54 miles of real-world electric range (from a WLTP figure of 70) at up to 87mph, with the ability to accept 50kW DC charging. Which will likely make both models popular with business and private customers, though our attention has inevitably been grabbed by the 530hp petrol model at the top of the range. Ever since 2005, nothing has quite been able to match the sense of imperious satisfaction that comes from driving a V8 Sport, so we’ll have to hope that continues this time around. Range Rover is promising a 17 per cent improvement in fuel economy along with 20 per cent more torque, which sounds good, alongside a ‘visceral driving experience’. All models use an eight-speed automatic.
Finally, to the new Sport’s interior. Once more, it’ll look familiar to those with experience of recent Range Rover product, but that’s hardly a demerit given how they’ve turned out. The Pivi Pro infotainment, with over the air updates and standard Amazon Alexa, operates through a 13.1-inch central curved haptic touchscreen; the driver’s display is 13.7 inches. Additional technology onboard includes a ‘Hey Land Rover’ personal assistant (which seems a bit much with Alexa as well, but hey ho), a 15W wireless charger and remote parking, which works through the Land Rover app (on your freshly charged phone) to get the car into a space without you having to be at the controls. And probably very handy given the size.
That’s in addition to all the adaptive safety kit that’s expected, rear seat entertainment and new digital LED headlights that can use navigation data to change the beam pattern. So be sure to check those out when they’re a bit too close behind on the M40.
A lot to take in then, but that’s kind of the point. Even compared to the last Sport’s launch in 2013, this model is vital. Because people love SUVs more than a decade ago. Don’t believe us? Take it from JLR CEO Thierry Bollore: “The exceptional New Range Rover Sport sets new standards as the ultimate sporting luxury SUV, building on seventeen years of unique customer appeal. It is the latest embodiment of our vision to create the world's most desirable modern luxury vehicles, effortlessly blending new levels of sustainability with the signature qualities that have made Range Rover Sport so popular."
Those that like an RRS, then - and there are more than a million of them, don’t forget - should find plenty to be encouraged by here. The new model is available to order now, priced from £79,125. Expect them on the road later this year.
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