Currently reading: Autocar Awards 2023: Range Rover Sport named best SUV
With the Range Rover Sport's many qualities, you can’t help but recognise an exceptional package

Sneaking in aboard the coattails of its bigger brother the Range Rover, the ‘L461’ Range Rover Sport was just a little bit starved of limelight in the build-up to its introduction in 2022.

Modern Land Rover product launches are rarely so under-hyped or little anticipated - and if this one had been given a prominence appropriate with the contribution it makes to JLR’s bottom line, it would have had a hero’s welcome in this new third-generation form.

That’s because the Range Rover Sport has become the defining modern Range Rover. Part of its success is its perfect positioning. It brings refinement and capability you expect of the full-sized Range Rover to a price point that little bit easier to justify.

But then it combines both with a sharply-cut style, sporting performance level and driver’s-car dynamism: a package so complete that, even amongst £75,000 executive SUVs, is hard to beat.

But part of it may be the recognition by longtime Range Rover owners of a car that’s more like that of the original Range Rover of 1970 than the larger, more luxury-dominated modern Range Rover has become.

Once the BMW-Group-ownership-era ‘L322’ Range appeared in the early 2000s, the genie was out of the bottle for the big Rangie, and it has moved farther and farther upmarket ever since, catering to richer and richer tastes. 

But the Sport has maintained the original Range Rover’s outstanding-on-and-offroad positioning, as well as its size and many of its defining design cues. And by offering a distinguishing level of driver appeal to the modern luxury SUV buyer, accompanied by all of the other qualities that the brand has become associated with over the decades, it’s continuing the mission that the 1970 original was explicitly designed for.

The latest version of the car is one almost without a weakness. Where previous generations might have been a step behind some of Germany’s luxury brands on cabin technology, or material cabin appeal, the ‘L461’ is a truly world-class product.

Between four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars, and accounting for its long-range plug-in hybrid powertrains as well as its Ingenium and BMW-sourced engines, it has the chassis and powertrain technologies that arm it for success for years to come. It has luxury-level space, excellent digital cabin technology, and an inviting, upscale interior. 

But the most striking progress that the car has made is on rolling refinement. JLR’s latest MLA-Flex model architecture has founded a supremely quiet and relaxing car with a limousine-like air here, running well in advance of the standards of its predecessors, and most of its competitors.

Count that alongside all of the Range Rover Sport’s other defining qualities, and you can’t help but recognise an exceptional package. And while it’s one for which Land Rover charges a tidy premium compared with some competitors, you certainly wouldn’t struggle to find ways to justify paying it.

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Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Nic Wielkiego 27 April 2023

It's a great looking vehicle in my opinion and very desirable.  Sorry if the UK hasn't seen it on  the road yet. I guess you're not JLR's priority.

jason_recliner 27 April 2023

It looks awful. Stupidly huge slab sides with nothing to break them up and a pointless steep rise in the waistline. Front end styling completely inappropriate for a 4WD. Looks as appealing, prestigious and dynamic as a toaster. Or a Tiguan.

Just Saying 26 April 2023
So the new Range Rover Sport SV out on 31st May is confirmed next year's winner already, aye Autocar?! LOL