The Sport version of the worlds best 4 x 4 vehicle has now been with us since 2005 and sells by the bucket load. And so it should. It has all the characteristics of the full-fat Range Rover but is lighter, shorter and quicker. What’s not to like?
For me the only complaint l have ever had was the loss of the spilt tailgate and therefore the loss of the convenient seat that presented itself when one suddenly found oneself at a point to point meeting or a grouse shoot. If that has not happened to you, you need to get out more.
The new Sport finally comes with the optional seven seats and with a weight saving of 400kg, it is agile. Off road, it does the business with the ability to wade through 85cm of water and has a far greater axle articulation and wheel travel than its rivals.
There are two diesel options – the potent 292bhp SDV6 and an interesting new diesel hybrid – alongside a deranged 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 that makes 510bhp and will propel the RRS to 60mph in five seconds flat. Too slow for you? Enter the SVR, whose 550bhp output cuts this to just 4.5 seconds. The SVR is the product of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations division and is for the totally mental, LA rappers and Saudi princes – and me. Who on earth would not want the finest 4×4 in the world that’s capable of 62mph in 4.5 seconds, will go onto 162 mph and will lap the Nurburgring in 8 minutes and 14 seconds – the fastest ever recorded time of a standard SUV. It will cost you just south of £100,000 but that might just be the best 100 grand you ever spent.
All engines use an eight-speed auto that offers a smooth and progressive drive and for a heavy seven-seat SUV, its composure on twisty B-roads is quite baffling. There are lots of computer gizmos working away to keep it stable and flat (ish) in the bends but you just don’t know any of this is going on even though there are sensors firing information to the main computer 500 times per second.
The interior is lavish and sumptuous and leaves you wanting from nothing. You climb ‘up’ into all Range Rovers of course and once there you are rewarded with a superb seating position and swathes of wood and leather. The SatNav, as in all JLR models, is touch screen and l find this highly useable and the Sport is the first Landie to offer a colour head-up display. If l didn’t have a house l would be more than happy to live in here. TV, great sounds, electric leather seats, air conditioning, a Champagne fridge, full Bluetooth connectivity – hell, scrap that, l will move in here as it is better equipped than my house.
The majority of UK buyers will go for the V6 diesel as it will return 38 mpg but to do this is to totally miss the point. This car was built to be a V8. It needs a V8 to bring it alive and to releases the inner monster that lies beneath. To purchase the V6, although very good indeed, is like being in bed with Heidi Klum and playing dominoes – really, quite a waste of a great opportunity.
It is impeccable on the motorway and 2000 miles in one session would be a breeze, A and B roads are a blast and off-road, it will be pulling other mud pluggers out of ditches all day long.
Both the Range Rover and the Sport are consummate professionals and it is tough to know how they could be bettered. In that mythical 7-car fantasy garage, there would have to be a place for the Range Rover Sport and if you can afford seven garages and the price of seven cars, then go mental and buy the SVR – you would never regret it. If it’s good enough for Bond, it’s good enough for me.
Model tested: 3.0-litre SDV6
Engine: 2993 cc V6
Power: 254 bhp
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph
Economy: 33.2 mpg combined