Currently reading: Range Rover Sport: full technical details and gallery
Full story of how the new Range Rover Sport manages is lighter, quicker and more agile than before

The all-new Range Rover Sport, revealed at the New York motor show, is a model described by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern as being “the Porsche 911 of SUVs”.

It’s his way of emphasising the essential difference between the all-new Sport — due in showrooms in September — and the recently launched, considerably larger Range Rover flagship  which shares many of the Sport’s underpinnings but not its essential character. “We’ve taken ride, handling and agility to another level in the Sport,” adds brand boss John Edwards. “This is the fastest, most agile and most responsive Land Rover ever.”

The first-generation Sport rapidly achieved halo status as JLR’s most profitable car, scoring impressive success in the US and especially in Manhattan — hence the decision to unveil the second-generation car at the New York motor show this week. Sales have always been strong; even last year it notched up 56,000 sales, its second-best result to date.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

The styling — more sophisticated and sporty than before — makes obvious reference via the floating roof and basic proportions to the ‘senior’ Range Rover, but it is both low and compact in comparison, with greater windscreen rake, a forward control aspect and pronounced wheel arches and haunches that advertise its dynamic priorities. “It’s dramatic and powerful, with immense road presence,” claims McGovern.     

The new Sport has much more in common with the Range Rover than the old model, sharing most of its primary suspension and transmission parts and key components of its aluminium monocoque chassis (adopted instead of the original model’s heavy, old-tech, twin-rail steel chassis). The new car is 62mm longer than the outgoing Sport, but still 149mm shorter than the flagship Range Rover, while its wheelbase is 178mm longer than that of its predecessor. Thus its rear overhang is markedly shorter than before and the redesigned cabin offers both more rear-seat knee room and space for an optional pair of electrically powered, fold-down, child-friendly seats forming a third row, making this a ‘5+2’ SUV for the first time. 

Weight saving is a highlight of the new Sport. Engineers claim a ‘real-world’ saving of around half a tonne over the previous model, though that is calculated by comparing the latest high-output V6 with the previous diesel V8, which offers similar performance. If you compare old and new V6s directly, the difference is a still-impressive 420kg. 

Engineers have also chased efficiency through aerodynamics. The Sport has movable vanes in its cooling system to cut drag on the move, plus near-flush glazing and a smooth underfloor panel to reduce the drag coefficient to 0.34.

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>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

At launch, the Sport will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 288bhp 3.0 SDV6 diesel and a 503bhp supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8. These will be joined next year by a 254bhp TDV6 diesel and a 334bhp 4.4-litre SDV8 ‘super-diesel’ with a 6.5sec 0-60mph time. Later in 2014 we’ll see a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine option — broadly similar in performance to the outgoing V8 diesel.

These engines (all of which incorporate stop-start) send their power through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox to a permanent 4x4 system. But in a big break with the past, the Sport will be offered either with a two-speed transfer case that offers the traditional high range and low range and a 50/50 front/rear torque split, or a single-speed transfer case with a default 42/58 per cent torque split to give a rear-drive bias for sharper on-road handling. 

Towards the end of 2014, Land Rover promises to deliver a “highly innovative” diesel-electric hybrid version of the Sport that will emit only 169g/km of CO2. 

The suspension features air springs and uses many of the same lightweight components as the new Range Rover, but the rates of the springs and continuously variable dampers are biased much more towards handling than the Range Rover’s luxury-focused set-up, and there’s a new Dynamic setting in the Terrain Response menu to best configure the car for energetic on-road driving. Variable-ratio electric power steering is adopted, with its gearing sharpened to three turns between locks.

>> Steve Cropley talks to design boss Gerry McGovern

>> Range Rover Sport: first ride impressions

The whole chassis bristles with electronic driver aids, including roll stability control, corner brake control and engine-drag torque control to go with the more familiar hill descent control, stability control and hill-start assist.

The interior draws much from the conventions established by the previous Range Rover Sport model: driver-orientated controls, slightly lower driving position than the Range Rover (by about 20mm) and a high and very prominent centre console, all of which help to give the whole thing a sporting aspect. But there’s much progress in the execution, which is more sophisticated in design, includes new kit like an optional head-up display, simplifies the controls and generally reaches a higher level of quality that’s perceptible as soon as you experience it. McGovern cites “cleaner, purer surfaces”, and the materials quality has taken another big step forward. What’s more, 

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there’s much more choice for owners: lots of colours and textures and no fewer than 11 designer-endorsed ‘themes’.

At launch, the SDV6 will cost between £59,995 and £74,995, but the TDV6 will reduce the Range Rover Sport’s entry price to around £51,550 when it arrives next year. The Supercharged Autobiography, with its 5.0-litre V8 tops the range priced at £81,550.

Gerry McGovern, Design Director for Land Rover and Range Rover, said "It is a design and transport transformation from the old car. You can see the DNA of the brand, but it is a revolution in terms of design. It oozes luxury from the inside out.

"Customers have typically been more open minded, and they were open to us being more dramatic in our changes than perhaps with the Range Rover. Our design principles allow us to strike different tunes with different cars - and there's no question the Sport is a strong expression of revolution where the Range Rover was a bold evolution"

Click here for more New York motor show 2013 news.

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
MikeSpencer 6 April 2013

Classy, Contemporary, Cool

Land Rover hit the bullseye with this effort. So much more usable than a full-fat Range Rover on European roads, too. Want.

Pavonefan 29 March 2013

Land-Rover hits the spot again!

When Land-Rover launched the original Range Rover Sport I thought they had missed the target. It looked too much like the existing Range Rover. Admittedly that gave it a familt look and distanced it from the Discovery upon which it was based, but it was very dull compared to the Range-Stormer design exercise that had been on show a year or two earlier. Admittedly that was a bit too whacky, but something in between would have been ahead of the game and stunned the opposition. 

Maybe the marketing men were right becuase the Sport certainly sold well enough, but rivlals have moved the sporty 4x4 sector on as far as looks are concerned, with cars such as the BMW X6 which might not make a lot of practical sense but then how many people buy 4x4s for practical reasons these days?

In my opinion, the styling of every new Land-Rover model since then has been spot-on, inside and out and this is no exception.

Unlike the original Sport, the Evoque looks sensational and dead sexy. The new Sport looks like a cross between the new R-R and the Evoque which I think is where it should have been in the first place. Unlike its predecessor, it's a head turner and should sell well on looks alone, which is a definite plus for this market sector. 

As for 0-60 figures, that's surely not what this car is about. It needs to be quick of course, but you don't buy a 4x4 if your main priority is the traffic light grand prix (well not this sort anyway, maybe a Mitsubishi Evo or similar).

My only reservation is the build quality which has been a Land-Rover criticism for too long. Hopefully the all-new cars in their range will have been designed with this in mind and India's finest will go from strength to strength. 

WhichNiche 28 March 2013

Well done Land Rover

Looks much better than the Full Fat and the Evoque. The TDV6 (from next year) will surely be the best UK seller and would be my choice at £52k, matches Cayenne on 0-60, mpg and CO2. Not as blingy either. Get an SE in Loire Blue or Aintree Green and it's as classy looking as a RR should be. Well done to LR, no more compromises and no more excuses for not buying British and supporting the thousands of LR and supply chain jobs in the UK