From £51,550
We test a pre-production version of the new 5.0-litre supercharged Range Rover Sport

Our Verdict

Range Rover Sport

The Range Rover Sport offers just the right dynamic twist on the well trodden SUV formula

What is it?

This is the all-new Range Rover Sport, which goes on sale in the autumn. Autocar has driven a near-production version powered by the range-topping supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine, which develops 504bhp. The company claims it is the ”fastest, most agile and most responsive” model ever developed by Land Rover

The key phrase for the Sport project was ‘breadth of ability’ - meaning that it should be able to both lap the German Nürburgring race circuit and still have serious off-roading ability. It was a task summarised by Land Rover engineers as ”both having two feet of suspension travel and 'staggering' times around the Nürburgring”.

To that end, much of the new Sport has been designed from scratch. Although it shares the same aluminium architecture as the recently launched flagship Range Rover, company engineers say that 75 per cent (measured by part numbers) of the components that go into the new Range Rover are unique.

Much of the (“no-expense spared”) re-design work has gone into changing the aluminium, air-sprung, suspension system which gets, for example, a bigger motor on the active anti-roll system, redesigned front suspension legs, re-valved steering and active dampers that take readings ”more than 500 times per second”. 

Engineers say that the Sport’s new ‘Dynamic Mode’ much reduces body roll compared to the previous model. It also gets a torque vectoring effect via individual wheel braking - which kills off understeer before it begins to build up. A new Dynamic Active Locking Differential - 30 per cent quicker than before - is also fitted. The steering is also the quickest ever specified by the company.

What's it like?

In the new 'Dynamic' mode, very quick, very aggressive — even in ‘Normal’ mode’ — and extremely capable. Although our taste of the car was limited to two quick laps of the Gaydon circuit and two laps of the winding, inner, handling circuit, it’s clear the new Sport is much sharper-edged than its predecessor.

Unsurprisingly, the supercharged V8 has immense pace (propelling a car weighing 2.3 tonnes from 0-60mph in five seconds gives some idea of the sheer wallop) but the Sport has a chassis that never feels overwhelmed.

In entry-level V6 diesel form (which offers 0-60mph in 7.1sec with just over 250bhp), the new car is a  massive 420kg lighter than the outgoing model, which was based on the Discovery’s heavy-duty T5 chassis. In this, rather heavier, range-topping, Sport the lighter structure clearly aids the suspension’s active systems in reining in the car much more effortlessly than previously.

Even with the massive performance on offer, the Sport didn’t feel like it has too much power, instead instilling a sense of great confidence in just how quickly a car this large could be driven on winding roads. 

Off the circuit, it was the ultra-quick steering that was the biggest surprise and biggest encouragement. The aggression of the steering response over the first quarter turn at the rim was almost shocking, but once the driver has settled into the realisation that the Sport has the body control to handle very aggressive manoeuvres, it is hard to not drive the Sport with commensurate aggression.

True, the suspension is pretty damn stiff in ‘Dynamic’, but the Sport goes so much like a conventional hard-core sports car that a rigid (though well controlled) ride seems appropriate.

Should I buy one?

The Range Rover Sport looks great - better than the rather stately Range Rover in some eyes - and has a fine Evoque-esque cockpit. It is much sharper, much more aggressive and much more capable than its non-too-shabby predecessor.

You might even describe the new Sport as a kind of Jaguar F-type on stilts, which is not as much of an exaggeration as you might think. Indeed, much of the Sport and F-type chassis tuning was completed at the same time and both were overseen by JLR’s chassis guru, Mike Cross.

True, in ‘normal’ mode and driven on normal roads and at normal pace, the Sport looks like it will be civil enough to be an upmarket family car (helped by the 5+2 seating arrangement), but the car’s ‘Dynamic’ personalty is much more hardcore than anyone might have expected. It makes Porsche’s Cayenne GTS seem a bit of a wimp.

In fact, Land Rover is claiming a ‘Ring lap time of 8min 36secs for the Sport, matching a time set in 2012 by a Mini John Cooper Works GP. Which, perhaps, puts this car in true perspective.

Price £81,500; 0-62mph 5.0sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 22.1mpg; CO2 249g/km; Kerb weight 2310kg; Engine 4999cc, supercharged V8 petrol; Power 503bhp; Torque 461lb ft; Gearbox 8-spd automatic, all-wheel drive

Join the debate

Comments
41

1 May 2013

At 2.3 tonnes its still too heavy IMO, I cant see how JLR are gaining any advantages of using aluminium, if all its product including the new F-Type are no lighter and in some cases heavier than the opposition.

1 May 2013

Citytiger wrote:

At 2.3 tonnes its still too heavy IMO, I cant see how JLR are gaining any advantages of using aluminium, if all its product including the new F-Type are no lighter and in some cases heavier than the opposition.

Probably JLR should simply lie more, like the German brands do. This Sport weighs a substantial 2300 kg. The Cayenne Turbo is quoted by Porsche as 2100kg, but when verified it actually weighs between 2560 and 2600 kg...

 

 

1 May 2013

Grunt wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

At 2.3 tonnes its still too heavy IMO, I cant see how JLR are gaining any advantages of using aluminium, if all its product including the new F-Type are no lighter and in some cases heavier than the opposition.

Probably JLR should simply lie more, like the German brands do. This Sport weighs a substantial 2300 kg. The Cayenne Turbo is quoted by Porsche as 2100kg, but when verified it actually weighs between 2560 and 2600 kg...

 

 

 

the cay turbo has a 2.1 tonnes dry weight, alot of sources claim its around 2.3 - 2.4 wet. That 2.3 quoted above is the sport with the 5.0 V8, the v6 diesel is somwhere along 2.1 but unfortunately for land rover british people want suvs that weigh as much as a hatchback. i have an idea why not get a hatchback in the first place?

2 May 2013

Grunt wrote:

Probably JLR should simply lie more

I think they lie too much already.

Surely you recall the recent Autocar test? The new RangeRover was much heavier than the stated weight.

2 May 2013

soldi wrote:

Grunt wrote:

Probably JLR should simply lie more

I think they lie too much already.

Surely you recall the recent Autocar test? The new RangeRover was much heavier than the stated weight.

Correct, weigh bridge said 2600kg, 300kg heavier than manufacturer claims. Another testament to JLR's `lightweight' aluminium technology.

 

1 May 2013

We reckon it's an absolute monster. Fantastic looks, incredible power and design has been carefully thought out (inside and out). 

 

Car Leasing Tips & Advice, General Petrol Head. 

<a href="http://www.alternativeroutefinance.co.uk">Alternative Route Finance</a>

1 May 2013

I don't give a hoot about claims of '400kg less', this car is still obscenely heavy at a minimum of 2.3 tonnes.

The F-Type is also too heavy, at an entry level of 1.6 tonnes.

All the talk of aluminium is just a smoke-screen to deflect from the central point - the technology under the skin is ancient and full of compromise.

JLR talk alot about weight saving, but they've merely reduced the cars from 'Morbidly Obese' to simply 'Obese' status.

 

Still too FAT

1 May 2013

This looks better without the ridiculous fake side vents of the RR. Nothing else to add, not my cuppa.


1 May 2013

This V8 model in unpopular in the UK due to its heavy fuel consumption. A check on howmanyleft.co.uk revealed that 9285 RR Sports were registered in the UK last year, with just 771 of those V8s. That's 8.3%. It's understandable that Land Rover would use their flagship model for publicity purposes, but the majority of customers will surely be waiting for the V6 diesel road test before thinking about buying. Perhaps offering both cars to drive back-to-back would have been a better solution?

1 May 2013

Initial reaction was 'meh', then I saw pics 10 and 14 and thought 'yes, please'. Facile, moi?

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