The luxury SUV market is quite a complex mix of choices. This is made even more exciting by the fact that JLR group has a plethora of offerings. Range Rover Sport is now in its 2nd generation (L494), and we jump behind the wheels of this luxurious titan to see what the facelift has on offer.
New Range Rover Sport HSE (High Specification Equipment) sits between Evoque and Range Rover, and as we found out, is an astonishingly kitted car. And, this is not even the chart topping SVR spec that comes with an absolutely bonkers 5 litre Supercharged V8 petrol engine, and as evident, a lot more swag.
Design: One glance is an affirmative proof of the supremely elegant British design that the Range Rover Sport exudes. Clean lines, tightly skinned, Range Rover Sport feels more like a beautiful artefact that’s CNC machined out of an aluminium ingot. Latest update brings minor exterior updates to this handsome SUV, and more cool tech on the inside. The new version continues on the Evoque based design language. What perplexes us is the word Sport, often associated with coupe cars.
There’s a tweaked front bumper and sleek Matrix LED headlamps while the range topping HSE spec gets Pixel-Laser LED headlights. At the back, the uber cool wrap around tail lamps get an update. Older circular exhaust tips have made way to diffuser styled quad exhausts. The perfectly proportioal 21 inch wheels make the overall package so stunning, its easy to let our minds wander into the world of autobots where every damn car would want to date, propose, and marry this suave mudslinger. In our books, Range Rover Sport, quite literally is the David Beckham of SUVs.
Interiors: RR Sport ushers in facelift with JLR`s Touch Pro Duo infotainment amongst a host of other updates. JLR’s SUV lineup sports some of the most fantastic interiors, which are a fine mix of practicality, build quality and needless to say, contemporary design. If the interiors of the earlier Range were not classy enough for you, the new version will certainly leave you gobsmacked. Multi function touch displays gives the cabin a very Tesla-ish uncluttered look. Top screen continues to predominantly be the Infotainment interface.
Lower screen handles HVAC functions with rotary dials and also doubles up as the Terrain Response interface. Top screen also gets a tilt function. Why? Well why not! The lower display takes the cake for its brilliant and crisp graphics signifying each Terrain Response mode. Central console and arm rest with chiller is carried over from the earlier model. Steering mounted controls are not only back lit, but also have soft touch ipod like controls.
The car is overflowing with tech sophistication of a different level. Front passenger seats on this car have a memory function too, no surprise, as a lot of its owners love to be seated at the front, which offers an imperious view of the world outside. HSE spec is also equipped with a thumping 825w Meridian Surround Sound System.
Rear occupant comfort hasn’t been neglected either. Plenty of leg room, an expansive panaromic sun roof, front seatback mounted displays, and HVAC controls with exceptional build quality spell regal comfort. Sport comes with a full size spare wheel, and a decent boot space for a vehicle of it size.
Engine options and Drive experience : Range Rover Sport is offered in 4 engine options, 2 each in Petrol and Diesel. We drove the 3 litre v6 HSE spec, which is good for 254bhp@4000rpm and 600 Nm at 1750-2250rpm, and is capable of 0-100 in 7.7 seconds. The engine is paired to a ZF 8 Speed automatic transmission overseen by its super clever Terrain Response 2 transmission management wizardry.
Range Rover Sport is built on Land Rover’s D7u platform, and has commonality with Discovery, as well as, Range Rover. This architecture makes extensive use of aluminium in a bid to not only shed weight but also improve on safety, and overall efficiency. The Range Rover is suspended on air springs on all four corners, which lends it exceptional versatility, on and off road. Just in the recent past, Range Rover Sport’s Dragon Challenge video made big waves. The feat is also testimony to the immense confidence LR has in its product. It has been known for years now that Range Rover Sport is designed to look adept at on road duty but is also equally prone to getting its feet dirty. So, does it feel wrong to take the Range off road? Why should it?
Whether one is behind the wheel, or riding shotgun or enjoying the comforts of the back seat, the Sport in general, is a gratifying experience. With so many drive modes to suit varying terrains, and on highways, the Sport drives best in comfort mode, soaking up all the undulations, while the view from the front seats is absolutely domineering. This one is not a vehicle one would pitch in to corners on a winding road, and even if you do, atleast this SUV won’t make passengers sick.
Range Rover Sport lures you with its impeccable road manners but there is no hiding of its inertial mass, all 2.5 tonnes of it. This car won’t glide with magic carpet ride quality over broken roads, and rattles do filter in, but they do so in a dignified manner. Even though Sport is equipped with air suspension, it’s tuned to deliver ride quality, which is on the firm end, giving it a brilliant balance of comfort and confidence in its gait.
The 8 speed automatic unit virtuously harnesses monumental amounts of torque, and lays it down nonchalantly making it a brisk mover. The mile munching abilities are further enhanced by its adaptive cruise control with lane departure warning, and collision warning system. If you are a JLR loyalist, F Pace aces in the handling department, while X5 does set a bench mark, and the Cayenne Turbo remains – Gold standard. We casually took the Range Rover Sport towards the banks of a lake with marshy soil, and came back impressed, and not surprised. The ingenious Terrain Response 2 works without any rigmarole, and gently obliterates any challenges thrown by the turf underneath.
Summing it up : Range Rover Sport is less of a SUV, and more of luxury car with go anywhere capability. It’s simple, elegant and as desirable from outside, as much as its a delight to drive, and also be driven in. What’s more, the Sport returns about 7.5 kmpl in the city and stretches it to 12 kmpl out on the highways.
Subjectively, Range Rover Sport virtually has no rivals and the engineering that has gone into this thing is astounding. It’s a pure luxury package that offers comfort, on-road poise and off road-ability. The whole package breathes class, and is a winner. It’s no wonder that it’s a winning choice for many film and television personalities in India for whom comfort and status go hand in hand.