The latest Range Rover Sport has been given a host of upgrades which, quite frankly, has made it better than ever.
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At the top of the range you’ll still find the totally nuts 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol models. If you go for the 550hp model you’ll hurtle to the horizon with a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed over 160mph. These are insane figures for a car which is the size of a small country. Land Rover reckon you’ll get around 20mpg. Good luck with that figure.
However, the interesting changes are actually to be found further down the engine range. For lovers of smooth petrol engines, there’s a new 3.0 litre 340hp V6 – it's all about relaxed, quiet cruising. Most will opt for the 3.0 litre 306hp V6 diesel for the simple reason that performance is almost identical (0-60mph in a shade under 7 seconds, top speed 130mph) but you will get around 15mpg more in the diesel model. The noise of the diesel engine is impressive, too; it’s gruff in a sporty sort of way.
Up until the launch of this latest Rangy, the 3.0 litre oil burner was where everything kicked off but Land Rover has decided to get all sensible and introduce a 2.0 litre, four-pot 240hp diesel.
OK, we know what you’re thinking. Small engine in a big, heavy car looks like route one to dull lethargic performance and decidedly miserable street cred. Well, as long as nobody spots the single tail pipe as opposed to the other Range Rover Sports which get a pair, you can’t tell the difference in terms of appearance. When standing at junctions or first thing in the morning, there’s a bit of typical diesel engine clatter but, once you get going, this smooth drivetrain is remarkably hushed.
Oh, and don’t think that someone on his Boris Bike is going to be overtaking you. A 0-60mph time of 8 seconds, top speed of 128mph, and almost 46mpg mean this is a lively car that is also reasonably frugal. It will make huge sense if you fancy a hunky SUV as a company car.
It also means you can get into a Range Rover Sport for a bit less. Granted, not a lot less, but it’s a saving all the same – £60,015. If you want the six-cylinder 3.0 litre diesel model, you’ll need to find a further £3,530 while if you prefer the 3.0-litre V6 petrol version, it’ll set you back £65,215.
The interior is hugely inviting; it’s much better than something like a BMW X5. It’s also remarkably quiet for such a big car.
Feeling flush? If you can afford £97,780 for the full-fat 5.0-litre flying machine, you will get one of the most exhilarating cars around. It sounds fantastic, too.
Anyway, back to the new 2.0-litre model. It comes in HSE trim which means you get all of the essentials plus sat nav and leather seats which are heated front and rear; tyre pressure monitor; 10inch touch screen and a cracking audio system with DAB. There’s a wifi hotspot in the car and connectivity for a smartwatch. Land Rover has also introduced a clever smartphone app which allows you to remotely control various features within the car. You can even opt for an extra row of seats to make this a really versatile family holdall.
Every Range Rover Sport comes with 4x4 transmission linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. There are numerous safety aids like automatic braking, plus a host of gadgets which will help you keep moving when you either take the car off the black stuff or if there’s a cold snap with slippery, icy roads.
This latest model also benefits from being much lighter than the outgoing models. You can tell in terms of handling. There’s less body roll and the car feels much more nimble on its feet. For such a big car, it’s remarkably agile and surprisingly simple to either weave through town traffic or hustle along country lanes.
Build quality is terrific. If you’ve not sat in a Land Rover or Jaguar for a few years, then you really should take a refresher course. JLR has upped its game and is now on a par with the German manufacturers. The interior is hugely inviting; it’s much better than something like a BMW X5. It’s also remarkably quiet for such a big car.
It doesn’t matter whether you are blasting to your favourite Swiss ski resort, taking the kids to school, towing a horse box across a muddy, rutted field, or heading out with friends to the theatre, the Range Rover Sport will cope. You will also have a load of fun while your passengers enjoy the comfort.
It’s a remarkable car.