Range Rovers Sport confuses many potential buyers in the 4WD and SUV fields. Almost all ‘sport’ models from other marques are simply tarted up variants of standard models, whereas the Rangie Sport is a model in its own right. It’s smaller than the regular Range Rover and until now has been based more on the Land Rover Discovery than the full-sized Range Rover.
Which for a while led to the ridiculous situation that the current Sport is heavier than its big brother, the recently introduced full-size Range Rover. That’s because the big Rangie had been run through a serious weight reduction program.
Details have just been announced that the next Range Rover Sport, which won’t be seen in Australia till late 2013, has gone on the same slimming-down process. Believe it or not, some half a tonne has been pulled out of the new Sport. Which won’t exactly make it a slim young thing - it’s now more heavyweight boxer than sumo wrestler.
Using the ‘matched-luggage’ approached that’s common in upmarket marques the new Range Rover Sports sits neatly in appearance between the big Range Rover and the small Evoque. While it was developed alongside the Range Rover the all-new Sport has 75 per cent of its components that are unique to it.
The new Sport is just 62 mm longer than its predecessor, but has a significantly longer wheelbase, up by 178 mm, to provide extra room and improved access for passengers in the rear. Once they are back there the passengers will appreciate the additional 55 mm of width.
Range Rover Sport has a steeper windscreen angle and lower sloping roofline to improve aerodynamics and, with a Cd of 0.34, it does well for a relatively bulky 4WD.
New Sport’s interior has design cues that are instantly recognisable as being Range Rover, with neat design and top quality materials. It has a higher centre console, configurable mood lighting and what Range Rover describes as a sporting seating position similar to the Evoque.
A new, optional colour Head-Up Display presents key vehicle and navigation data. Driver assistance systems include Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Automatic High Beam Assist.
ENGINES AND TRANSMISSION
All-new Range Rover Sport will have a choice of four engines: two supercharged petrol units (5.0-litre 375 kW V8 and the new 3.0-litre 250 kW V6) and two diesel engines (3.0-litre 190 kW TDV6 and 215 kW SDV6). Early in 2014 a high performance 4.4-litre 250 kW SDV8 diesel version. A high-efficiency diesel Hybrid model will also arrive in 2014.
All petrol and diesel engines in the new Range Rover Sport are mated to a heavy-duty ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, the weight reduction measures on the new Range Rover Sport mean a smaller, lighter power plant, such as a four-cylinder engine, is a possibility.
Though most will be only ever be driven on-road, Range Rover tells us it hasn’t let the Sport’s all-terrain ability slip. Wheel-travel is class-leading and provides exceptional wheel articulation of 546 mm. Maximum ground clearance is increased to 285 mm (up by 58 mm) and the revised air suspension system automatically varies between two ride heights. The new generation Terrain Response 2 system automatically selects the most suitable program for the conditions.
A choice of two full-time 4WD systems will be offered. One provides a two-speed transfer case with a low-range option, for the most demanding off-road conditions with a front-rear 50/50 percent default torque split, and 100 percent locking capability. The other system has a single-speed transfer case with a Torsen differential, which automatically distributes torque to the axle with most grip.
The 2014 Range Rover Sport range is:
SE TDV6 190kW 3.0-litre diesel: from $102,800
SE SDV6 215kW 3.0-litre diesel: from $113,600
HSE SDV6 215kW 3.0-litre diesel: from $125,800
Autobiography SDV6 215kW 3.0-litre diesel: from $145,500
HSE V6 Supercharged 250kW 3.0-litre petrol: from $123,100
HSE Dynamic V8 Supercharged 375kW 5.0-litre petrol: from $161,600
HSE Autobiography Dynamic V8 Supercharged 375kW 5.0-litre petrol HSE: from $182,400