It was a short but very sweet time behind the wheel of Range Rover’s new Sport
IT TAKES only 10 minutes to get an impressive taste of the all-new Range Rover Sport
That’s perfect, because we only have 10 minutes of drive time during the fact-packed preview of the sporty SUV at Land Rover’s Gaydon test track in the British Midlands.
The Sport has just been cut away from the mid-level Discovery and twinned with the all-new Range Rover, a move that has created nonidentical twins at the top of the Land Rover family tree.
The luxury Range Rover is already up and running in Australia and the Sport comes in November, with pricing still to be revealed but with impressive luxury and driving equipment as standard.
Apart from the switch to an all-alloy body, the Sport becomes the first Range Rover with a seven-seater cabin— thanks to a third row of ‘‘ secret seating’’ intended for youngsters— and other innovations run from a laserdriven head-up instrument display to a torque-vectoring transmission system to improve the on-road dynamics.
If there is one thing that points to the transformation of the Sport, it’s the gear lever in the centre console. The luxury RR has a rotary control that ensures it’s always a full automatic but the Sport is a car that is intended to be driven. That also includes front seats that are set 20 millimetres lower, with a console raised by 9mm, to give a more driverfocused cabin.
It’s easier to compare the Sport with the Range Rover than the previous Discoverybased model, because it reflects a new approach to the top end at Land Rover.
‘‘ We’re about taking quantum leaps forward with every new model we do,’’ says Range Rover vehicle line director Nick Rogers. ‘‘ Range Rover Sport has helped us transform our business. It’s new people. They are 80-85 per cent conquest customers.’’
The Sport is part of Land Rover’s 65th anniversary celebration and is about as far removed from the British offroad original as is possible.
‘‘ It’s Land Rover’s take on the dynamic SUV. It’s a sports tourer. The key aspect is longrange comfort,’’ Rogers says.
The unveiling of the Sport is a ‘‘ soft’’ launch that is big on facts and figures but short on driving. Carsguide will have a full driving review later in the year, most likely from the offroad tracks and winding country roads of Wales, before the first deliveries— and the all-important pricing news— in the final quarter. ‘‘ Pricing will be revealed in June, and it’s on sale in November,’’ says LandRover Australia brand manager Tim Krieger.
The new Sport is still pitched against theBMWX5, Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz ML, but also picks up extra points from its twin-brother role with the Range Rover.
That means a choice of engines from a four-cylinder almost identical to the EcoBoost motor in the Ford Falcon through to a supercharged V8, a weight loss of more than 400kg (500kg with the baby four), active antiroll suspension, eight-speed ZF auto gearbox and true off-road cred, including the ability to wade through water up to 850mm deep.
But the Sport turns sharply away from the Range Rover in one way.
‘‘ It really is refocused to emphasise its dynamic ability. It’s lower than the Range Rover, it’s more agile with improved ride comfort,’’ says