The ‘entry-level’ SDV6 diesel offers strong performance; it pulls effortlessly from low revs. However, for outright pace, rivals such as the BMW X5 40d are that bit faster. Most importantly, however, the Range Rover has plenty of low-rev shove to move the car’s considerable mass.
The SDV8 and SDV6 Hybrid have almost identical engine outputs, but the V8 is the more preferable of the two. It makes the Range Rover Sport effortlessly quick, and it responds consistently whenever you touch the accelerator; the hybrid isn’t so easy to drive due to its slightly unpredictable low-speed responses. It isn’t as quick at high revs as the SDV8, either. A supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol is the cheapest petrol option, and is quiet and smooth at low revs, but it needs working quite hard to get the best performance from it.
Both 5.0-litre V8 petrol engines in the Supercharged and SVR versions are extravagantly powerful, and the latter in particular makes the Range Rover Sport a genuinely fast and exciting performance 4x4.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport ride comfort
Most versions of the Range Rover Sport offer exemplary ride comfort. Particularly impressive suppleness at high speed makes this a superb car to drive on a long journey. Also, unlike in certain other luxury 4x4s, you don’t have to fiddle with numerous system preferences to get the car into a comfortable mode.
The best-riding cars are at the bottom of the range – those on standard 20in wheels. Higher-spec and bigger-engined versions with 21 and 22in wheels are a little less supple over bumps, especially around town, but they’re still far from bad.
The SVR version – the only Range Rover Sport offered with performance road tyres on its optional 22in wheels – has a slightly stiffer ride than other models with the same wheel size. Again, though, it’s excellent compared with the ride of most direct rivals, and it is more comfortable on the motorway than it is at lower speeds.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport handling
All Range Rover Sports offer an excellent blend of stability and relative agility. It isn’t the most athletic SUV of its kind, nor is it one that feels smaller than it actually is. Some rivals also offer more grip and tighter body control, but the Sport is an easy car to drive along a twisty road, mostly thanks to the consistency of its controls.
Every model uses the same height-adjustable air suspension setup, but entry-level HSE versions don’t get all the high-tech handling and off-road aids of more expensive models. These can be added as an optional extra, and are worth having if poised handling and driving across tricky terrain are high on your list of priorities.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport refinement
There’s some wind noise on the motorway – that’s inevitable for such a large, upright car – but the disturbance is limited to a gentle flutter around the door mirrors and front pillars. Versions on 20in wheels don’t suffer from much road noise, either, although you hear more in cars fitted with 21 and 22in alloys.
There’s little to choose between the SDV6 and the SDV8 when it comes to engine noise. Both diesel engines are smooth at low revs and when cruising, and remain well mannered even when worked hard. The SDV6 Hybrid can be driven in electric-only mode, so ought to offer some low-speed refinement advantage, but in reality the engine is seldom off for long enough when the car is moving to make much of a difference.
The V6 petrol is quiet provided you stick to lower revs, but let it spin up towards the red line and it gets very vocal, emitting quite a harsh, flat engine note that not everybody will find particularly likeable.
Both V8 petrol versions have extravagant engines with loud soundtracks to match (the high-performance SVR is especially thunderous), and while they can be more muted when driven gently, they certainly announce themselves when driven hard. Still, both are performance engines rather than silky luxury ones, and the soundtrack is a big part of the engines’ appeal.
This engine is our favourite in the Range Rover Sport range because it offers the best combination of performance, refinement and running costs. It’s quiet, smooth and responsive – and is capable of a decent 31.5mpg, according to our True MPG real-world economy figures. As with all Range Rover Sports, it comes with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive.
Combines the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine from the SDV6 with an electric motor to boost efficiency and performance. It’s not a plug-in hybrid, however, so doesn’t have the ultra-low CO2 emissions of some rivals. It offers stronger low-rev performance than the SDV6 and better economy, but it’s not as good to drive as the SDV8 version, which is the better choice if you’ve got this much money to spend.
If you can afford it, this V8 diesel engine provides effortless pace with acceptable running costs. Press the accelerator hard and performance is startling (the engine has the throaty soundtrack to match), while our True MPG testers recorded 28.1mpg, so fuel economy is far from terrible.
5.0 V8 Supercharged
Land Rover’s supercharged V8 engine doesn’t do demure – instead, it delivers plenty of performance and noise, making the Range Rover Sport Supercharged something of a super-luxury 4x4 dragster. Fuel bills are, as you’d expect, scary.
5.0 V8 SVR
The SVR is the full-house go-faster model. It’s thunderously powerful, noisy and exciting, but with sufficiently good manners to soothe the miles away when you need it to. On the other hand, when you want it to, it is unashamedly noisy and extravagant, and makes the Range Rover Sport indecently fast for something so big. Our True MPG real-world fuel economy testers managed just 18.8mpg, so prepare for some almighty bills; reckon on getting 22mpg on a good day, if you can resist the engine’s power and soundtrack.