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There’s barn-storming and then there’s barn-flattening. The supercharged V8 in the Range Rover Sport could achieve both. A weight-loss program has seen the new Sport shed up to 420kg and it shows in all models, but especially the blown V8.
It hits harder and brakes more savagely than any Sport before it and matches that pampered performance with off-road aplomb bettered only by the Range Rover itself.
The Rangie Sport ranges in price from $102,800 for the turbocharged V6 diesel (TDV6) to $182,400 for the supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8 in Autobiography Dynamic guise. In between sits an uprated 3.0-litre turbodiesel, from $113,600 in SDV6 SE specification to $145,500 for the Autobiography. The supercharged petrol V6 -- again a 3.0-litre mill -- is $123,100.
Wheel sizes range from 19-21 inches and an eight-inch touchscreen is standard on all models. The base diesel and supercharged petrol V6 get a single, high-range gearbox, the rest pick up a two-speed transfer case to enable low range crawling.
Even Land Rover Australia admits no one buys the base model with the supercharged V8 the company’s best-seller. Follow the crowd and opt for the big gun and there’s a set of 20-inch Brembo brakes, an active rear diff and dynamic driving mode linked to torque vectoring on all four wheels, along with Meridian sound systems.
The options list is just as impressive, topping out at $10,700 for a 23-speaker, 1700-watt Meridian 3D sound system, or $1490 for park assist. It’s par for the luxury SUV course and Land Rover Australia spokesman James Scrimshaw says most owners will mix and match from the pages of option to create a personalised package.
Buyers of the supercharged V6 diesel should factor in another $8100 for the On and Off Road Pack that includes the dynamic program with torque vectoring. It transforms the car from a sporty grand tourer to a 2.1-tonne corner-carver.
Fuel consumption is down across the range simply by virtue of the vehicle’s lighter weight -- there’s a 2 per cent gain in fuel economy for every 100kg of lost mass. It’s the mechanical equivalent of a weight-loss program that speeds up the metabolism.
Despite riding on a version of the Range Rover platform (the previous model shared the Discovery’s chassis), more than 75 per cent of the Sport’s components are unique and it shows in a tauter, more responsive steering feel and more adroit cornering than has been bestowed upon its big brother.
An amalgam of the Range Rover and Evoque is the best description of the new Sport. The inside is sumptuous in any model, with leather-upholstered seats, an easy-to-learn touchscreen interface and switchgear that feels substantial and looks stylish. Rear-seat legroom is a highlight, though, like the Range Rover, G-forces through the corners means you don’t want to be sitting in the middle seat.
There’s also an option of a 5+2 seating package, with a pair of kids-sized fold-flat seats in the rear, though the trade-off is replacing the full-size spare for a can of tyre-sealant. So it’s a viable option for city buyers.
EuroNCAP hasn’t tested the Sport yet but, given it’s based on the five-star Range Rover, it’s safe to assume a top ranking. ANCAP notes the rating only applies to the turbodiesel V6 -- the petrol variants weren’t crashed, presumably because the price of buying multiple luxury SUVs makes it a prohibitively expensive exercise.
Reluctance to scratch the Sport will be the biggest impediment buyers will face navigating off-road terrain. It is technically far more competent than the gravel tracks most owners will aspire to challenge. The same principle applies to its on-road behaviour. With the dynamic mode engaged, it is a surefooted behemoth whether tackling tight hairpins or arcing through sweeping curves.
The Sports tag doesn’t indicate a sports car -- this is a large SUV. What is does imply -- and deliver on -- is a level of roadholding that exceeds the expectations of the vast majority of owners. It is on a par with a Porsche Cayenne and that’s high praise, given the Porsche can’t touch it off the beaten track.
As a driver-focused SUV, the Range Rover Sport is unparalleled for the diversity of its capability. The price matches that potential but there’s always the pair of V6 diesels for buyers who aren’t that pretentious.
|3.0 SDV6 Autobiography||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$81,990 – 85,850||2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2014 3.0 SDV6 Autobiography Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 SDV6 HSE||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$59,860 – 84,997||2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2014 3.0 SDV6 HSE Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 SDV6 Luxury||3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$57,750 – 66,330||2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2014 3.0 SDV6 Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 SDV6 SE||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$67,888 – 69,990||2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2014 3.0 SDV6 SE Pricing and Specs|