The Range Rover Sport is a luxury, sporty, SUV that is very much like – but not exactly like – the even more expensive Range Rover.
Tracing its roots back to 2005, the Range Rover Sport may no longer be available with 7 seats but it is still very spacious and is the perfect family-lugger. Especially if that family likes to go on adventures in the wilderness. Or even a weekend surfing in Ilfracombe.
It’s a full-fat 4×4 with a host of off-road abilities that puts most rivals in the shade, while still retaining an air of opulence inside.
Surprisingly, the new Ranger Rover Sport is still available with a diesel engine, although petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid units are options, too.
Well, it is a Range Rover Sport, so even the entry-level SE D300 will set you back over £83,000. For that, you get a 6-cylinder diesel unit (mild hybrid) that can still whisk this behemoth to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds.
Bear in mind this “poverty-spec” Range Rover Sport still comes with 21-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, Windsor Leather Seats and a top-notch Meridian Sound System, to name just a few items. Start adding in some option packs and you’ll easily see the price shoot north of £90k.
Next up is the Dynamic SE (from £86,620) which is available in Diesel, Petrol or Plug-in Hybrid guise. The P400 version provides a Petrol mild-hybrid power unit with 400 bhp and a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds and a WLTP fuel consumption figure of 29.4 mpg.
Fancy it as a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)? Then the price jumps to £92,980 and you gain 60 more horses. The battery is quite big (32 kWh) and Land Rover claims a range of up to 76 miles running in EV mode.
My test model was a PHEV – albeit the Autobiography model – and I only managed just over 50 miles after fully charging the battery. This may be due to the sub-zero temperatures at the time which affects battery efficiency, but it should still be enough to get most commuters to work and back on one charge. My home charger (7.2 kW) took 5.5 hours to charge the battery from zero to 100%.
The Autobiography model starts from £98,360 and introduces more engine choices. There’s the D350 Diesel Mild hybrid (£102,540) and the P550e Plug-in Hybrid (£114,050). The 3-litre, 6-cylinder PHEV offers 550 bhp and a 0-60 mph figure of just 4.7 seconds. My 510 bhp PHEV appears to have been replaced by the P550e, with an increase in price of around £6K.
However, if you’d rather spend £185,360 on a Range Rover Sport then you have no choice but to go for the V8-equipped SV Edition One model, giving you 635 bhp and a 0-60 mph sprint time of just 3.6 seconds. The only catch is there are no longer any available. Sorry.
At first, you really feel the weight of the Range Rover Sport. It feels like a mini-bus. Even the steering wheel feels big. But it doesn’t handle like a bus. You may be expecting it to and therefore take things quite steady at first, but once you’ve gone around a few bends you begin to realize this ain’t no bus.
The switch between electric mode and hybrid mode goes almost completely unnoticed – until you put your foot down hard and the Sport leaps forward with a grunt. A hushed grunt, but a grunt, nevertheless.
You can travel up to 70mph in electric mode only, but most PHEV owners will do the sensible thing and just let the car decide what should be used and when.
Is the Range Rover Sport really a Sports SUV? Well, it never feels truly sporty, thanks to its weight, but it does feel sportier than its bigger brother, the Range Rover.
You can have fun on twisting rural roads but the Sport doesn’t come close to being an apex-catcher. The steering requires just too much work to feel truly sporting, as it does with the Porsche Cayenne, for instance.
It’s much more of a grand tourer. When Mrs. B and I took a Range Rover Sport p510e up to the Cairngorms for the weekend, we felt it was perfect for the mixture of long, almost empty A-roads, interspersed with challenging, twisting climbs that would have had most large, SUVs scrambling for a gear.
And that was the beauty of the Range Rover Sport – its automatic gearbox is unobtrusive in the most challenging of conditions. It just gets on with the job and never seems at a loss of which gear to choose. It inspires great confidence when exiting a tight bend, spotting a clear, straight road ahead and then just blasting past the car in front – if there is one, which was rare this particular weekend.
It’s cossetting too. The 23-inch wheels (£1,100 extra) didn’t appear to make any difference to the quality of the ride which was soft without being wallowy.
I confess that I had the driving mode set to Dynamic for most of the journey to stiffen up the suspension in anticipation of the serpentine-like roads we would encounter. It seemed to work well. Comfort mode was fine for the dual-carriageways and even at 70 mph there was little intrusion from those large tyres, and virtually zero from the engine.
By the end of the weekend, we had averaged 34 mpg, which I thought wasn’t too bad for a vehicle weighing in at almost 3 tons. We had set off with a full battery though, so that 5.5 hour charge should also be taken into consideration.
On climbing up to and into the Range Rover Sport, the first thing you notice is the wonderful smell of the leather. Well, I did. After that, it’s a matter of taking in the quality of materials and fit and finish of the interior. It all feels and looks very special – which you would expect in a vehicle costing north of £110,000.
The digital dash and 13.1-inch curved Infotainment screen are taken straight from the larger Range Rover and if you’re familiar with big-brother’s layout, then this will be a doddle because they are virtually identical.
The two front seats are so comfortable you may not want to get out of them. They are not only heated and cooled but have a massaging function too. With quite a choice of pummelling. It doesn’t mess around and you certainly feel the benefit after a few minutes.
Visibility, as you would expect, is excellent. You certainly take the high ground in the Sport. The driving position is also excellent with 20-way electrical adjustment along with steering wheel adjustment, providing fine-tuning.
There’s a very clear, configurable HUD that means you need to spend less time glancing down at the large digital dash that can be configured to show just about any info you want, including your sat nav screen. The quality is spot on with even the smaller figures being pin-sharp.
Ergonomically, I found the climate adjustment a tad fiddly. Both the driver and front passenger get a large rotary dial for climate. But if you push down on it first, it also controls the heated/cooled seats. If you pull it up first, the fan speed gets adjusted. A great idea but the problem is that sometimes you’re not sure if you’ve pushed down on it accidentally so need to take a look to see if you’re adjusting what you think you’re adjusting and that becomes distracting.
I wasn’t a fan of the steering wheel function buttons either. I find them non-intuitive in use and poorly designed. You shouldn’t have to spend 10 minutes figuring out how to get from one menu to another to make a simple adjustment.
Other than those niggles, the interior of the Sport is very impressive. The curved screen doesn’t just look cool, it means less distracting reflections, too. JLR’s interface has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and it shows in the Range Rover Sport with bright, clear graphics and a responsive touch screen with haptic feedback to make navigating around even easier.
The rear-view mirror doubles up as a rear-view, wide-angle camera at the flick of a switch, so restricted views become a thing of the past. It’s a neat idea that also gives better visibility at night.
There’s loads of storage space with 2 glove boxes in front of the passenger and a deep storage area in the wide central column where you’ll also find 2 cupholders. The wireless charging tray is fiddly to get to under the infotainment screen but at least your phone is out of sight if you forget to pick it up.
You get wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto if you wish to use your own Sat Nav app and maybe stream your music. The Meridian sound system is superb, with a big stage-sound feel to it thanks to a sub-woofer and no less than 34 speakers.
Rear passengers certainly aren’t neglected with just as much room back there as in the bigger Range Rover. Three adults, side-by-side will still be comfortable on short-to-medium journeys, while two children can be kept apart, easily. The little loves also get their own climate control, USB chargers and cup holders, hidden away in the middle seat backrest. The rear seats can also be reclined slightly.
Boot space is actually a little bigger than the Range Rover and I like the fact that the load space can be lowered by pushing a button in the boot, which silently lowers the back of the Range Rover to make loading items a little easier.
As you would expect, the Range Rover Sport comes with a truckload of driving assistance systems, including Digital, adaptive LED Headlights. Each headlight features 1.3 million Digital Micromirror Devices and adaptive lighting uses navigation data to pre-emptively follow the road ahead.
And, of course, there there is JLR’s legendary off-road systems that not only let you see what is beneath the front wheels, via a 3D display on the infotainment screen, but at the push of a button will make all those difficult-terrain decisions for you – including ride-height.
It’s no longer just Hill-Descent that decides how slowly to take a steep slope. The Range Rover Sport can take control of both accelerator and braking while traversing any off-road situation. Cruise control for the Green-Laner.
The new Range Rover Sport doesn’t disappoint. It looks and feels classy without being too “in-your-face” like say a Bentley Bentayga. Its levels of comfort aren’t far off the Bentley, either.
It offers levels of refinement that most can only dream of, while its ability off-road remains unparalleled in a family SUV that doesn’t carry the Land Rover badge. The fact that most of them will never see a muddy field remains a moot point. The ability is there and come the floods or snow you may be very grateful for them.
If you choose a PHEV model, then you could save on fuel bills if you’re commute is within 20 miles, or so. Then again, if you’re thinking of spending £100,000 on a car, you probably don’t have that worry. However, going a little greener may be your intention, in which case you may want to wait for the fully electric Range Rover Sport which is out later this year. Decisions, decisions . . .
AT A GLANCE:
Range Rover Sport Autobiography P510e Plug-in Hybrid
OTR Price (as tested): £111,245
Power: 510 bhp
0-60mph: 5.2 secs
Top Speed: 150
WLTP Combined MPG (achieved): 34