Range Rover Sport review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The latest Range Rover Sport is more luxurious, more efficient and better to drive than ever before

For: 
Very refined, high-quality interior, impressive handling
Against: 
Tight rear seats, high running costs, thirsty petrol engine

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The latest Range Rover Sport fits between the compact Range Rover Evoque SUV, and Land Rover’s full-blown Range Rover flagship. Designed to combine the British brand’s trademark comfort, luxury and off-road ability with a racier, more involving driving experience, the Range Rover Sport is a direct rival for the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class.

The Range Rover Sport also has a neat trick up its sleeve in the form of an optional seven-seat layout. The third row of seats unfolds from the boot floor and helps give the upmarket off-roader genuine MPV versatility. This practicality doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and luxury, though, because the Sport’s interior feels every bit as upmarket and cosseting as the flagship Range Rover’s

In an effort to make the new Range Rover Sport feel more agile, Land Rover has ditched the old car’s hefty steel chassis in favour a lightweight steel monocoque. In combination with new active anti-roll bar technology and adaptive dampers it helps provide the latest Range Rover Sport with surprisingly nimble handling.

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Yet none of this on road composure comes at the expense of the Range Rover Sport’s legendary off-road prowess. Not only does the Sport get Land Rover’s Terrain Response, which automatically adjusts the traction control, gearbox and throttle for maximum traction, it also gets standard air suspension. This addition allows you to raise the ride height to clear large obstacles, with the additional benefit of a pillow soft ride on the road.

The Range Rover Sport’s weight reduction also helps boost, despite using the same line-up of engines and the old car. Buyers choose from two versions of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, a 4.4-litre V8 diesel and a pair of 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol units. And that’s not all, because there’s also a frugal petrol/electric hybrid version of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

The entry-level Range Rover Sport TDV6 diesel returns combined cycle economy of 38.7mpg with 194g/km of CO2 and the range topping 5.0 Supercharged V8 Autobiography and SVR models give poor 22.1mpg fuel returns and 298g/km CO2 emissions.

There’s also a diesel/electric hybrid version of the Ranger Rover Sport, which emits 169g/km and 44.1mpg – although at £82,650 it isn’t cheap.

There are just four trim levels to choose from – HSE, HSE Premium and the racy SVR. All models come loaded with standard kit, including leather seat trim, climate control and sat-nav. 

Our choice: Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Dynamic

Styling

4

Land Rover certainly looked to the smaller Range Rover Evoque and flagship Range Rover for inspiration when it came to designing the new Range Rover Sport. It's certainly an imposing car as it's longer and wider than its rivals, and its beefy styling sets it apart from the more rounded Porsche Cayenne and the blocky looking BMW X5.

The design inspiration taken from the regular Range Rover can be seen in the new Range Rover Sport's black window frames which create the effect of a floating roof. Then there’s the distinctive clamshell bonnet and small light clusters on either side of the tailgate.

The cues from the smaller Range Rover Evoque come in the form of the two-bar mesh grille, slender headlights, deep front bumper and small taillights. The tapering roof line and steeply angled tailgate glass are also nods to the smallest car in the Range Rover line-up.

The Evoque and Range Rover theme carries over into the Sport's cabin, and the dashboard receives the same TFT screens as found in its bigger brother. Everything is given a club class feel thanks the extensive use of soft leather and classy-looking metal trim.

Furthermore, the fit and finish of everything on board is first-class. It's just a shame the blocky, low-resolution display of the sat-nav lets things down.

Driving

4.6

Given its two-tonne kerb weight, you'd expect the Range Rover Sport to feel cumbersome and heavy through a series of corners. However, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in its construction, the Range Rover Sport is still lighter than its closest rivals, and it helps give the British machine surprising agility.

There’s a choice of two diesel engines and one petrol unit, but we'd take the entry-level 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel. With 288bhp it’s got more than enough performance for every day use, allowing the Range Rover Sport to complete the 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds.

The 4.4-litre SDV8 is a little smoother, but has a greater thirst (a combined cycle of 32.5mpg compared to 38.7 for the SDV6) and higher CO2 emissions, plus it doesn’t feel a lot faster in real world situations.

Buyers with very deep pockets can choose one of the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 petrol models. In standard tune it produces a healthy 503bhp and a muscular 625Nm of torque, resulting in a rapid 0-60mph sprint of 5.0 seconds. The recently revealed SVR boasts an even more powerful 542bhp version of the same engine, which helps slash 0.5 seconds off the 0-60mph benchmark.

Range Rover Sport rear view

All versions of the Range Rover Sport are fitted with a Terrain Response system that allows the driver to switch the car's handling dynamics, depending on the road surface. In Dynamic mode - while the steering is still light - there's next to no body roll and lots of grip.

On the normal setting, body-roll is more than acceptable and its air suspension easily handles bumps and ruts with aplomb. The Range Rover Sport is more stable than an X5, and does a better job than the BMW of keeping you on your planned course in a bend.

Where the Range Rover Sport really excels over its rivals, though, is in the rough stuff. The Terrain Response system alters the car's suspension, gear, ride height and throttle response, according to the mode selection. There are settings for mud, gravel, snow, rocks or sand and the Range Rover Sport is absolutely outstanding across all of them.

The Terrain Response system raises the car's height by 65mm to 278mm, which gives it greater ground clearance. A raft of displays also show you exactly what's going on when you take the Range Rover Sport off-road.

Land Rover also offers the Range Rover Sport a whole lot of off-roading options such as a surround-view camera system and Wading Depth indicator, which give even greater confidence when taking it off road.

Reliability

3.7

On previous models, Land Rover didn't have the best reputation for reliability, but the latest Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover models are going some way to rectifying that. The newest incarnation of the Range Rover Sport shares some of its running gear and electronic systems with the bigger Range Rover, and Land Rover's rationale behind this, is by sharing technology across the range, technology will improve.

As the Range Rover Sport was launched for the 2014 model year, it's still too early to comment as to whether the decision of tech sharing has worked. Apart from the odd electrical problem, it appears that the latest models from Land Rover are reliable.

The newest Range Rover Sport hasn't yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP. However, being based on the standard Range Rover which scored five-stars, it is expected that it will perform equally well as it also comes with the same safety systems which include Xenon lights, advanced stability control, roll control and eight airbags.

Practicality

4.5

As it's based on the massive original Range Rover, it should come as no surprise that the new Range Rover Sport is an extremely practical car. However, while its standard boot size is 784-litres - miles ahead of that found in the BMW X5 - with the rear seats folded flat, the Range Rover Sport falls 109 litres behind its German Rival (1,761-litres to 1,652-litres).

Range Rover Sport interior

Like the Land Rover Discovery, a third set of row of seats is available on the Range Rover Sport as a £1,500 option but they are tough to access and rather cramped. The air-suspension can be lowered by 50mm to improve access and a flat floor in the back means all three passengers will get plenty of foot space.

However, the two sculpted outer seats found on the third rear bench will leave the central rear passenger feeling perched above the other occupants.

Running Costs

3.8

Whichever way you look at it, the Range Rover Sport is a big, powerful four-wheel drive car that will cost a lot of money to run. However, thanks to the aluminium chassis, Land Rover has slimmed the Range Rover Sport down and the SDV6 diesel returns a combined economy of 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 199g/km.

A Mercedes ML350 or Porsche Cayenne Diesel is also cheaper to buy than the Range Rover Sport, and company car tax bills are lower. The TDV6 diesel which arrived in early 2014 returns a slightly better combined economy of 38.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 194g/km.

An electric-diesel hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport arrived at the end of 2013 and is the most economical car in the line-up thanks to its 169g/km of CO2 emissions and combined cycle of 44.1mpg. Yet its only available in range-topping Autobiography guise, and it features an eye-watering £82,650 price tag. That make it around £6,000 more than an identically equipped SDV6 model – meaning you’ll have to do a lot of miles in the Hybrid to offset its hefty price premium.

The price of a Range Rover Sport is around £51,000, which makes it almost £20,000 cheaper than the standard Range Rover. Like its bigger, more expensive brother, the Range Rover Sport is expected to hold on to its value well. As you’d expect, there are plenty of options to choose from, but the Sport is so well-equipped as standard that you’re unlikely to want to add extra kit.

Disqus - noscript

how can it get 5/5 when the highest score you gave it was 4.5?

Exactly! How did it get 5 stars overall .. Even reliability it achieved only 3.5.. Funny how Brit magazines just ache to give anything JLR full marks! Even when they don't achieve full marks !

Good point Tom.Range Rovers are excellent to ride in, so I think most journalists are a bit biased.The space inside is poor considering the size of the vehicles. A car costing £50,000+ is a bit irrelevant to most people though.

Wait a minute... I just read your Porsche Cayenne S Diesel comparo with the BMW power diesel and YOU state " with sharper handling and better steering, as well as class-leading refinement and a first-rate cabin."...... do you guys read your own articles or do these put-down-the-JLR-competition-comments just come automatically. when writing about a JLR product. Its bad enough when you praise the Merc GL as to its refinement, room and comfort and then proceed to give it 3 stars.......

Footballers will love 'em blinged up!

And it certainly will get better!

The Director of the main BMW Works - responsible for 3 and 5 series production - which is in Dingolfing, Bavaria, Wolfgang Stadler an extremely active part of the BMW senior management has just resigned to move to Jaguar Land Rover as board member for production!

He will be bringing a lot of technical experience and advanced produtction know how with him and is certainly an extremely important boost to Jaguar Land Rovers future technical capabilties in its expansion and manufacture of new models!

Well done Jaguar Land Rover!

It looks like the same car but with an Evoque Front & Rear end & a Higher Quality Interior.

"Reliability has always been a slight issue with Land Rover models"
?? It's a bit more than a "slight" issue. For years Land Rover models have been among the most unreliable cars available.

Better than the Cayenne a class or 2 above the BMW ... I would give the engineering thats gone into it a good 6 stars .... The only way it's German competiton can get good on road performance is to sacrifice off road ability

Evoque on steroids..... still impressive but prefer the older RRS

Better than all the Germans though!

Tried one today. Found the ride a bit firm for my liking- bit disappointing. Maybe the Ranger Rover has the edge on ride quality making more of the difference over RRS than the old model.

Wasn’t sure at first but seen a few on the road recently and I have say it looks really nice. Very
cool in black.

What date is the Range Rover Sport coming out in South Africa

Why does Land Rover continue to measure boot size to the roof when the competing SUVs from Audi, BMW, Porsche and VW all measure to the parcel shelf? To quote that the Range Rover Sport has a boot size of 784 litres is misleading when the much larger Audi Q7 is 775 litres. If you get a tape measure the Q7 boot size is much larger than the RR Sport and the BMW X5 is about the same.

LR have turned to penny-pinching ebrochures on their website now. Their attitude being if you want a brochure made out of paper, ask a dealer. I asked my dealer, who after what seemed like an eternity and left me feeling as if I'd asked for half an hour in bed with his wife, finally handed over a rather scruffy 2013 model year brochure. Sorry LR, you've just lost a customer with your penny-pinching ways.Off to buy a Q7 I go. Bring back paper brochures on your website so those of us who prefer them can order them without hassle!

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We ordered a new Range Rover Sport 5.0 S/C Petrol Autobiography from a main dealer in Nov 2013 and it still hasn't been delivered. The latest estimate is end of July. Has anyone had similar problems?

Does anyone have any details about the expected tyre wear on the new Range Rover Sport? The previous model which we owned only did 5,000 miles before the tyres wore out. Our car only has light domestic use and tyres /car were properly maintained - i.e. tyres kept at correct pressure and no tracking problems. Has anyone had similar problems?

why is this blog NOT in chronological order?

I was told May next year!
Should keep 2nd hand values strong.

nice!

Last updated: 3 Sep, 2014
AEX 1,339
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