Range Rover Sport First Drive

range rover sport first drive

The Range Rover Sport was launched in 2005 and Land Rover has sold 4,00,000 units till date. Evolved from Land Rover’s first concept vehicle, the Range Stormer (showcased in 2004), the first generation Range Rover Sport’s production has been stopped, as the second generation model is all set to go on sale in the next couple of months. Land Rover has announced pricing for the Sport in the UK, which starts at £59,995 for the base trim and goes up to £74,995 at the top end. The second gen Range Rover Sport is all new and shares only 25% parts with the Range Rover. It uses an all aluminium PLA platform, which results in a weight saving of 420 kgs over its predecessor (when powered by the same engine). Land Rover states the new Range Rover Sport is “the fastest, most agile, most responsive Land Rover ever”. The British company claims a 30% improvement in handling over the first gen model. The new RR Sport does a lap around the Nordschleife in 8:35 minutes, which is fast for a full sized SUV.

We had a chance to drive a Range Rover Sport prototype at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon test track. The vehicle we drove used a gasoline unit, powered by a 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 engine, belting out 510 PS and 625 Nm. This engine is mated to a 8-speed automatic gearbox, with a stick shift instead of the rotary gear knob found on the Range Rover. The reduction in weight is immediately apparent, the Range Rover Sport feels more eager to throttle inputs. The engine sounds sporty (it has active exhaust system) and acceleration is brisk with 240 km/hr coming on the speedo without any fuss. 0 – 100 km/hr takes just 5.3 seconds, impressive. In Dynamic mode, the dials change to red color and the response from the motor is more immediate.

Land Rover has given the new Range Rover Sport Torque Vectoring and Active Roll Control, which works fabulously to ensure the vehicle stays planted around corners. The former system sends torque to the wheel with the most grip, thereby adjusting the balance of the car. You can actually feel the torque vectoring system working, preventing understeer with power being transferred from the inside wheel to the outside ones. We turned through corners at speeds in excess of 100 km/hr and the Rangie was thoroughly planted. The steering wheel weighs up well and is immediately different from the standard Range Rover, offering tremendous feedback. High speed stability is excellent too and you never feel you are doing 200 km/hr as the noise insulation is spot on.

The Range Rover Sport will stay true to Land Rover DNA and will offer off-road capabilities which the competition simply can’t match. While we didn’t take the vehicle off-road, we have no doubts how capable it is, since it gets the same off-road systems from the Range Rover. Other features include heads-up display, reverse traffic detection, traffic sign detection, wading sensors, InControl car app, 23 speaker Meridian system with 3D sound stage, etc. The feature list is quite long actually but we will reserve our judgement till we test these systems ourselves.

You sit slightly lower in the Range Rover Sport and the ride quality is slightly on the stiffer side (specially in Dynamic mode). Some bumps do tend to filter into the cabin but overall the ride comfort is still excellent and there is the sense of waft-ability which is associated with its elder sibling. Due to the weight reduction, Land Rover will for the first time offer a 4-cylinder motor in the Range Rover Sport (2.0-litre gasoline mill producing 240 BHP). This would go on sale by the end of the year and will weigh 500 kgs lesser than the first gen model. The mileage has improved due to the reduced girth and the 3.0-litre TDV6 equipped model will return 37 mpg (a 7 mpg improvement).

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Sport an option of 7-seats, which they call Secret Seats. The last row of seats are strictly for children and there is no way an adult can squeeze in. These seats are best used on short journeys. Interior quality and finish is top notch with the dashboard taking cues from the Range Rover. The Sport is being targeted as a tourer and thus interior comfort is paramount, the company delivers well in that regard. Our first impressions are extremely positive, the new Range Rover Sport is undeniably a significant leap over its predecessor. The Brits have certainly caused the Germans a reason to worry.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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3 of 23 comments
  • Dimwit Dimwit on May 08, 2013

    Faisal, how is this viewed in India? Is this an Indian car or a British car owned by an Indian? Does that make a difference? How well do you see something like this with its known propensity for maintenance headaches do in India?

    • Faisal Ali Khan Faisal Ali Khan on May 09, 2013

      Dimwit, its a British car, Tata only owns JLR, they don't interfere in its functioning. Even in India, its viewed as a British car. Maintenance is not cheap, brake pads can cost in excess of $4000. Also due to higher duties, all JLR vehicles are atleast double than the price in the US. The new Range Rover costs an insane - 500000$ in India, that is Lamborghini Gallardo money (India price).

  • Bimmer Bimmer on May 08, 2013

    Just look at that pimpin' bordello-red interior! I also respectfully disagree regarding untested off-road capability on standard tires as I remember reading a review of E53 4.6is X5. And they noted that standard tires were not off road capable.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.