Land Rover’s chassis engineers faced a unique challenge with the Sport: combining on-road handling with the level of off-road capability expected of all Land Rovers while, at the same time, serving up a quality of ride to suit its day job of family wagon. No, none of the car’s ride, handling or off-road ability approaches perfection but the blend of all three is something to behold.
The Sport is stiffly sprung so the ride around town is more bearable than brilliant, but show it a decent road and you soon see why it has been set up that way. The combination of air springs, electronically controlled damping and active anti-roll bars produce exceptional primary body control. There’s little roll in corners and enough grip and steering feel to just about stand up its ambitious Sport aspirations.
Yes, a BMW X5 handles better, but we suspect the tables would turn off-road. Extensive experience of the Sport in difficult conditions reveals the road-spec tyres to be the only obstacle standing between it and truly exceptional off-road performance – and the same is true of both petrol and diesel models. The 20-inch alloys should be the absolute biggest wheels you choose if you don’t want to overly compromise ride quality in the name of extravagant bling.