New Range Rover Sport to make public debut on 23 June

Goodwood’s Festival of Speed will see the latest Range Rover Sport roar up the famous hill climb

Despite its relatively lofty price tag, the Range Rover Sport has become a common sight on British roads. Now there’s an all-new model and it’ll be making its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Spectators at the Goodwood event will be able to get up close and personal with the third-generation Range Rover Sport at the First Glance Paddock, where it’ll sit alongside the new Range Rover and Land Rover Defender 130. Along with the static display, the new Sport will line up on the hill climb route where it’ll showcase its dynamic abilities, not to mention its 4.4-litre V8 engine.

Given the success of the previous two Range Rover Sport models, the new car is a hugely important car for Land Rover, not just in the UK but worldwide. 

It'll be on sale soon ahead of arriving in UK showrooms this September and just like its Range Rover bigger brother, the Sport features familiar family styling cues, but with a new sense of minimalism and modernity. Jaguar Land Rover creative director, Gerry McGovern is the man behind this modernist design philosophy. “It blends Range Rover luxury and capability with sporting character,” says McGovern. “It’s a redefinition of sporting luxury.”

At a glance, the new car is clearly still a Range Rover Sport, both in proportion and detail. Put the outgoing car next to it, however, and the differences are far more marked.

The new Sport is larger, especially inside, with a 75mm increase in wheelbase, yet it hides its bulk well with a short front overhang and a slightly longer overhang at the back – all supposedly to enhance a sense of movement.

The design team talks about three key lines to the car: the roofline slopes downwards towards a larger rear spoiler over the back window; the waistline is more angled – they call it an architectural horizon – with no window finishers and seamless, flush-fitting glass; then there’s the lower line that sweeps upwards, with all three converging at the back.

Flush-fitting door handles help to clean up the sides, while at the front the slimmest LED headlights fitted to a Land Rover (which can feature 1.3 million micromirrors inside) sit astride a slim, visor-like grille.

As with the Range Rover, the rear of the Sport is more different than before, taking its lead from the Velar and Evoque. The numberplate has been moved lower down to give a greater expanse of sheet metal at the back, intersected by another central visor-like strip featuring bold Range Rover lettering, flanked by new, flush surface LED rear lights.

Dynamic models get more prominent front and rear bumpers, and body-coloured side skirts with bigger alloys – up to 23 inches (which are lighter than the old 22s), while the standard wheel size is 20 inches.

It all looks very premium, apart from a couple of minor details: the rear camera hanging down just above the number plate – not exactly a minimalist solution – and the traditional Sport side blades ahead of the front doors that look a little cheap.

Interior design and on-board technology

The interior, according to McGovern, is “Closer than ever in terms of luxury to the Range Rover” – and it looks it. Again, minimalism is hard at work with the thick leather-clad horizontal line broken by a 13.1-inch infotainment screen that gently curves around the dashboard and flows up from a higher centre console that cocoons the driver and front passenger.

Thankfully, there are separate controls for the heating, ventilation and driving modes, with plenty of storage spaces hidden and some that are more obvious. Of course, there’s a 13.7-inch digital dash display, too, sitting behind a smaller-diameter steering wheel.

The seating position is 20mm lower than before, while there’s more shape to the rear seats, 31mm more legroom and 55 litres more luggage space than before, complete with new lighting to brighten even the darkest corners of the boot.

There’s a strong sustainability offering, too, although much of that may well be on the options list when final specifications are revealed. You can have luxury PU (don’t call it Polyurethane) Ultrafabrics on the seats, while ‘marine plastics’ are used to make the floor mats. Even the speakers for the Meridian audio system can be covered in textiles, while the audio system is also used for noise cancelling or to enhance powertrain sound responses with additional speakers in the headrests.

That big touchscreen features Land Rover’s Pivi Pro tech with Alexa built in, plus wireless smartphone connectivity and charging. Software-over-the-air updates feature as part of the infotainment and electrical systems, too.

Engines and performance

There are arguably bigger changes under the skin of the new Range Rover Sport, which – like its bigger brother – sits on JLR’s new MLA-Flex platform.

That means, among other things, the first-ever all-electric Range Rover Sport, although that won’t come until 2024. If you want electrification before then, two plug-in hybrid versions, with up to 503bhp and 700Nm of torque, combine a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine and 38.2kWh battery to give a best 0-60mph times of 5.4 seconds and an all-electric range of up to 70 miles.

There will also be one petrol and two diesel six-cylinder options, both featuring 48v mild-hybrid tech, plus a 4.4-litre V8 with 523bhp and a 0-60mph time of just 4.3 seconds. Expect an even faster Range Rover Sport SVR in due course, though.

According to Jaguar Land Rover’s Vehicle Programmes Director, Nick Collins, the new MLA platform is “Very stiff – it makes the car more sporty and more connected. We’ve aimed for a consistent ride – you’ll know about the road surface, but you won’t be troubled by it.”

Dynamic Air Suspension features twin air chambers to reduce pitch and roll, while a Stormer handling pack adds an electronic active differential with torque vectoring by braking and four-wheel steering, which we’ve already experienced in the new Range Rover to stunning effect – it gives the big SUV a sense of poise it has never had before and handily reduces the turning circle to less than 11m in the Sport, 2m less than before.

The new Dynamic Mode within the All-Terrain Response system offers bespoke steering, throttle and sound settings, while there’s plenty of off-road ability, too, with adaptive cruise control available off-road as well as on, plus a maximum wading depth of 900mm.

Initially, the new Range Rover Sport will be available in SE and Autobiography spec, with Dynamic options on top, too. And as is the current trend, an all-singing and all-dancing First Edition model will be available for the first year. Prices rise over the old model, starting from £79,125 – around £20,000 less than its bigger, posher brother.

Click here for our list of the best luxury SUVs on sale right now...

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