Don’t be deceived by the name, beyond its looks the Sport has little to do with the Range Rover. Its true sibling is the somewhat cheaper Discovery, whose chassis it uses, albeit abbreviated by 14cm in the wheelbase. So don’t be surprised that it’s heavy: the integrated body frame construction means it flattens the scales at 2590kg, more even than the Range Rover.
The structure is designed to combine the strength of a ladder chassis with the rigidity of a monocoque and, as we’ll see, it satisfies both aims admirably. But it’s also a significant part of the reason the Sport weighs twice as much as a family hatch.
Ensuring all this bulk is bowled along the road with the conviction you’d expect is Jaguar’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine. Though its 503bhp at 6000rpm and 461lb ft at 2500-5500rpm are near identical outputs to those realised in cars with cats on their bonnets, it has been reworked to suit a Land Rover. The sump has been redesigned to make sure oil continues to circulate even at the Sport’s 34deg approach angle. Ancillaries have been placed high up while the oil pump has been redesigned to allow harm-free wading.
The diesel's 242bhp at 4000rpm sounds a bit meagre by comparison to that titanic V8, but the twin-turbo diesel's 441lb ft of twist is generous. And on both counts, the Range Rover Sport competes on equal terms with its competition from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and others.
Like the Discovery, the Sport is suspended by a wishbone at each corner. But anyone thinking Land Rover would take the opportunity presented by its most sporting model yet to throttle back on its commitment to off-road ability needs to think again. The Sport has inherited the Disco’s capability, with air springs capable of raising or lowering the car by more than 10cm, a low-ratio transfer case, hill descent control and Land Rover’s marvellous Terrain Response system. Turn a knob to whichever one of six settings best describes the environment and computers alter the ride height, electronic diff settings and even the engine’s throttle map to suit.
A car of this weight and power generates massive momentum, so equally vast ventilated discs are used at each corner with four-piston Brembo calipers – updated in a 2011 facelift.