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.
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.