Range Rover Sport long-term test

This luxury SUV aims to blend the opulence of the latest Range Rover with a sharper drive, but does it succeed? We've been living with a nearly new example to find out...

Range Rover Sport LT header

The car Used Range Rover Sport D350 Autobiography Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it’s here To see if the full-sized Range Rover's sportier sister feels as special as it should during everyday use

Needs to Offer the comfort, refinement and general wow factor that you'd expect from a £100k luxury SUV, while mixing in the driving fun you wouldn't

Mileage on arrival 6200 Mileage now 9842 List price when new (2022) £99,245 Price new with options £100,790 Test economy 31.2mpg Official economy 36.7mpg Private price now £80,443 Dealer price now £90,498 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £810

14 December 2023 - Living the high life

Back at school, I invariably found myself in the front row on picture day; when I played rugby, opposing players would initially run straight at me assuming I’d be easy to knock down; and in the here and now I tend to have to move the driver’s seat forwards if I test a car after one of my colleagues. Yes, there’s no getting away from the fact that I’m on the short side. However, after living with a Range Rover Sport, I’ve had a taste of how the other half live – in more ways than one.

Range Rover Sport LT goodbye

A standout feature of the Sport is the way it lets you look HGV driver’s in the eye and see over the top of pretty much any other type of vehicle on the road. And, I can certainly see why this is prized; you feel like you’ve got a better idea of what’s going on around you, something that’s only enhanced by the car’s slim window pillars and the numerous camera angles provided to help with manoeuvring.

In fact, that’s probably the most surprising thing about the Range Rover Sport: how easy it is to drive, despite being so big and imposing. I found it incredibly easy to get my car up the tight multi-storey car park near the What Car? office, thanks to the way the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed to slash the turning circle (although it’s worth noting that this functionality is missing from cheaper versions). What’s more, the steering is precise and well weighted, so I was able to place the Sport on the road with confidence, even when travelling at quite a clip on tight country lanes.

Range Rover Sport LT rear cornering

The ambience inside the Sport also impresses, because you’re surrounded by plush materials which are mostly shared with the full-size Range Rover – despite the significantly higher price you’ll pay for one of those. That said, the leather on the 20-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat had started to sag a bit by the time my car left, which I wouldn’t have expected given that the mileage was still to reach five figures.

More positively, I found that seat always kept me comfortable, even after several hours behind the wheel; it helped that it’s heated, ventilated and incorporates a massage function. Meanwhile, the wide, flat bench in the back of the Sport allowed my wife to sit alongside our daughter (in her bulky child seat) and our family dog (wearing her harness and settled on her favourite cushion) without anyone feeling cramped.

Range Rover Sport LT with two people and a dog on the back seat

I don’t think you really miss out on much in terms of practicality, then, by choosing the Sport over the full-size Range Rover. Plus, I personally prefer the way the Sport rides, because its slightly tauter suspension reduces float and body lean, yet is still supple enough to soak up most imperfections in the road surface.

I’d also urge anyone buying either model to seriously consider the D350 diesel engine that I had in my car instead of automatically plumping for the more fashionable plug-in hybrid option. Yes, the latter will lower your benefit-in-kind tax bills if you’re a company car driver, but unless you can be bothered to plug in regularly, it’s actually the diesel that will be more efficient. And you can put aside any thoughts you might have about all diesels being unrefined; this muscular six-cylinder unit is super-smooth, quiet when you want it to be and emits a lovely burble when you put your foot down.

Range Rover Sport LT over the shoulder driving shot

There is one concern that needs to be flagged: a trip through a ford early in my time with the car was enough to dislodge its front undertray and throw up a suspension fault warning, suggesting that Land Rover’s build quality and reliability issues aren’t fully behind it. The only mitigation here is that the fault did correct itself – presumably once the car had fully dried out – instead of me having to visit a dealer.

Still, given the Range Rover Sport’s myriad other strengths, I can see why the brand’s customers are willing to forgive such indiscretions. It really does stand head and shoulders above most luxury SUV rivals.

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