The new Range Rover Sport aims to be the ultimate in adaptability, offering something for everyone from the off-road expeditionary to the tarmac screeching speed freak. Consider the Range Rover Sport as the multi-tool of the automotive world if you will. It now has a 450kg lighter chassis thanks to aluminium, has this helped change its game?
What is a Range Rover Sport?The Range Rover Sport is based on the new Range Rover but features 75 percent new parts over its siblings. It’s designed to be a sporty SUV for your tarmac enthusiast who likes to go off-road occasionally or likes to know that if needed, the car can go off-road. Price differentiation is also a major difference between the Sport and a regular Range Rover.
You can pick up a Sport for around R895 000, a regular Rangie will set you back R1.5 million for the base model. The best part about the Sport is that it doesn’t feel like a cheaper Range Rover, it feels just as special and even more useable for everyday life.
Supercharged V6Our test unit here is equipped with the supercharged V6 petrol; it’s a potent engine and good for 250 kW and 450 Nm. While it’s not the top of the range bad-boy we used in our drag race, it still accelerates its two-tonne plus mass to 100kph in 7.2 seconds. No slouch then and the fuel economy isn’t horrendous either, Land Rover claims it will average out at 11.3L/100km and during our tenure with it, we racked up an average of 12.2L/100km.
Connected to an eight-speed automatic gearbox the Sport breezes easily through the gears, although when it comes to overtaking you get the feeling that the engine and supercharger are primed and ready to deliver the punch, they’re just waiting on the gearbox to get done with its business. Of course you can insert yourself into the event by using the paddle-shifters and speed up the whole process, but the paddles feel quite plastic and a bit brittle – not something you want in a super luxurious SUV.
Lap of LuxuryIf it’s sumptuous luxury you’re after then the Range Rover has the goods, the Sport gets more supportive seats that hug a little tighter, there’s a smaller, racier steering wheel and the leather throughout the cabin feels stretched to perfection. The rear is kitted to the nines, there’s entertainment capability via dual screens in the headrests complete with USB and Bluetooth headsets. Space is excellent as you’d expect from a large SUV.
Neat little luxuries have been crafted into the interior, the steering wheel heater for example may seem like a gimmick at first, but it gets to work so quickly that I kept using it – mostly because I’m cold blooded, not because the weather was cold. The seats are both heated and cooled to specific levels you can adjust and all settings are adjusted via the infotainment screen. Here lies one of my gripes with the Rangie, the system is in need of an update, it feels outdated and the touchscreen requires a solid thud from your finger to activate it.
Everything is just a little more difficult to access than it should be and playing audio via Bluetooth or USB doesn’t allow you to list tracks, you can only hit next rather than selecting what you want. The satellite navigation usability could do with a redesign as well but according to what we’ve heard about the upcoming Jaguar XE, it could all be sorted soon. My only other problem with the Sport is that the rear seats don’t fold flat, they fold down in a 60/40 split, but at an angle so loading longer items such as a bike is not as easy.
How does it drive?It drives well, even when pushed. With its lighter yet stiffer chassis you can feel the engineers have been able to improve the ride of the Sport. It feels tight and nimble for a big car yet rides over bumps and undulations with the dignity of an aristocrat. The Sport, despite its block-like design has great insulation. Wind and road noise are nothing more than a feint whisper even when rolling on these massive 21-inch rims. Nothing commands presence like this Range Rover Sport as it feels like a king on the road, not in a grotesque or vulgar way but in a regal, very British way. Every journey becomes an event or something to look forward to doing.
VerdictThe Range Rover Sport makes for one of the greatest every situation cars ever. It’s excellent on road with well-tuned handling and a supple ride, it has the ability to go off-road too but if you plan to do that, opt for the dynamic ride option as firstly it improves on road dynamics and adds a low-range gearbox to the vehicle. Secondly it’s actually one of the cheaper option packages with improved dynamics and low-range or you could opt for a panoramic roof? I know which one I’m choosing. The interior is as luxurious a place as you’ll ever find in the automotive market but the infotainment system is in need of a major makeover. Other than that it’s a near perfect way to travel.
Second OpinionWith the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 under the hood, the Range Rover Sport has stolen my heart. It's more sensible than the supercharged 5.0-litre V8, but offers nearly as much performance. Everything about this product screams perfection and it's no surprise there's a demand for these premium offroaders. My only gripe is the inferior infotainment system which is someway behind the German systems.-David Taylor
Range Rover Sport SCV6 S quick specs
|Engine||3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol|
|0-100km/h||7.2 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||11.3L/100 km (claimed)|
We dislike: . Infotainment system outdated and difficult to use . Rear seats don't fold flat