The UK market won’t get the supercharged 3.0 V6 available elsewhere, developed for additional off-road durability from the new Jaguar unit, but we will get a diesel hybrid and, later still, an in-line four-cylinder petrol.
Land Rover claims the new in-line four will bring the Range Rover Sport’s kerb weight down to less than 2000kg and prove more than 500kg lighter than a current V6 diesel.
But despite similarly grand claims about the new Range Rover’s lighter shell over its predecessor, we didn’t see such a big gap when it came to the scales. Why should it be different this time?
For a start, the new Sport is developed from the latest Range Rover’s aluminium architecture, which, in the Range Rover’s case, replaced a largely aluminium car anyway. When it comes to the Sport, this new platform replaces the one used by the current Sport and the Discovery, which features twin steel chassis rails like a separate ladder, on top of which is bolted a steel monocoque.
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At the time of their introduction, Land Rover claimed that this platform offered the best of both worlds, but there’s no question that it also included the weight of both. The upcoming four-pot Sport will not only be on an aluminium platform for the first time, but it will also lose a low-range gearset. Even so, “we can get that base car anywhere a current Sport will go”, says Walters.
What that four-pot will retain is, like this SDV6, an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, whose selector is – unlike that of the latest Range Rover and most Jaguars – a stick rather than a rotary dial.
The F-Type gets this too. It’s a visual reminder of the sporting intent of these models, according to Land Rover – oxymoron though you might think that is on a car that weighs comfortably more than two tonnes in base V6 form and, I would think, considerably more after you have added some choice options.
But there are other sporting cues, too. The cabin architecture of the Sport is largely borrowed from its larger Range Rover brother (the ‘button count’ is down by 50 per cent on the existing model’s) but, compared with the last Sport, the steering wheel is 15mm smaller, and there’s an extra 2deg of rake to the windscreen and 15mm more tumblehome at the top of the glass. It’s a sleeker external shape.
The biggest differences, though, are allowed by the new platform. The driver sits 20mm lower than previously, in a similar posture to the Evoque’s. Making best use of the abandonment of under-chassis rails, the Sport sits 4mm lower overall than the old car but has 50mm more ground clearance.
That the floor is higher and the roof lower means different seating in the rear, where occupants sit 42mm lower than before. “It’s less ‘stadium seating’ and more ‘chaise longue’,” says Carter.
Yet because the wheelbase is up by 178mm over the outgoing Sport (and just 1mm different from the Range Rover’s), there is a lot more rear legroom.
But back to Walters Arena, and going quite quickly. Walters (Jason, not Arena) is down here about three or four times a month, he explains, although sometimes testers are left here for a few weeks at a time, honing and tuning. The Sport will get its fair share of acronyms and initialisms and mostly they’re electronically controlled, so there are huge options open to engineers when it comes to tweaking and finessing.