2013 Range Rover Sport passenger ride
A huge hit with buyers, the Sport paved the way for the similarly successful Evoque. However, while this second-generation car doesn’t have any trailblazing to do, it faces stiff competition from the likes of the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.
With this in mind, Land Rover has made a big effort to tackle the main flaw of the original Sport – its weight.
The steel, body-on-frame construction of the original car has been ditched in favour of the aluminium architecture of the latest Range Rover – a move that helps make the new Sport up to 420kg lighter than its predecessor.
This, along with the introduction of engine stop-start technology and improved electrical systems, should result in big improvements in fuel consumption and cuts in CO2 emissions. What’s more, Land Rover is promising similar improvements in performance and on- and off-road agility.
Two engines will be offered at launch: a 288bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and a 503bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol. Then early next year, the range will expand to include a 254bhp version of the V6 diesel, plus a V8 diesel and a diesel hybrid.
We won't get to drive the new Range Rover Sport until June. However, we can tell you what it's like to ride in the passenger seat, after being driven in pre-production cars, which Land Rover says are 'dynamically representative'.
What’s the 2013 Range Rover Sport like on- and off-road?
The model we spent most time in was the 503bhp supercharged V8 petrol, which builds speed as swiftly as you’d expect, aided by a slick, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s standard across the range.
The engine sounds quite rorty under acceleration, before quietening right down at a steady cruise, while the higher-powered V6 diesel – which we did some off-roading in – also seems impressively refined.
Both the cars were fitted with Land Rover’s active anti-roll bars and these help the Sport stay very flat and composed in corners.
Vertical body movements are more tightly controlled than in the regular Range Rover, but the Sport isn’t as good at absorbing bumps and road scars (the 22-inch wheels on our V8 probably didn’t help).
The other thing that’s likely to feel different is the steering, which Land Rover’s says is 10% quicker than the regular Range Rover’s, and slightly meatier, too.
As you’d expect, the Sport can cope with muddy, rock-strewn tracks and water troughs that would defeat most rivals. Here it’s helped by the all-weather tyres that are fitted as standard.
The Sport also comes with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which lets you optimise the car for different surfaces at the twist of a dial. However, you only get an auto mode that automatically selects the right setting for you if you go for a car with a low-range gearbox; some Sport’s make do with a single-speed setup.
What’s the 2013 Range Rover Sport like inside?
The Sport has always felt like the cheap alternative to the traditional Range Rover that it is, but the new model fixes that.
Cabin materials and craftsmanship are now virtually indistinguishable from the Range Rover’s and the Sport gets the same touch-screen infotainment system.
Even the styling of the dashboard is similar; the only obvious differences are the Sport’s slightly smaller steering wheel, its higher, more cocooning centre console and the fact that it swaps Land Rover’s now-familiar rotary-style gear selector for a traditional stick.
You sit lower in the Sport than you do in a regular Range Rover, but it still offers a much better view of the road ahead than that of most rivals and all-round visibility is good.
Rear space also impresses, even if the rear door openings are a little on the small side, and for the first time the Sport is available with an optional third row of seats (costing around £1500). These weren’t fitted to either of the cars we went out in, but Land Rover says they’re designed for teenagers and kids rather than adults.
Maximum boot space is the same, whether you opt for the third row seats or not, because they fold down electrically into the boot floor when not needed.
Three trims will be offered at launch – HSE, HSE Dynamic and Autobiography Dynamic – while a cheaper SE model will join the line-up next year.
Should I buy one?
The supercharged V8 petrol car makes little sense in the UK, but the V6 diesel is an appealing option because Land Rover appears to have addressed all the problems of the original Sport
True, it’s priced from £59,995, which makes it more expensive than the equivalent X5 and Cayenne. However, it has more power than the Porsche and is likely to come with more equipment than both its key rivals.
By Steve Huntingford
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