- We like...Speed, ability
- We don't...High CO2 emissions
Newest member of Range Rover family mixes luxury, sporting power and the ability to go anywhere you want toThis is the full-size Range Rover’s cheeky little brother. It may look huge, but it is a little shorter, lower and narrower than the ‘Range’ or even its workaday relative, the Land Rover Discovery.
Like its bigger bruv it, too, offers limousine comfort in a car that’ll also happily clamber across a boulder-strewn field. But the Sport’s different because it ds promise fast-car grit and flair in a machine weighing as much as two Ford Focuses.
To do this, it needs an engine that summons huge power. Fortunately, there’s the 3.6-litre V8 diesel, also used in the top-fat Range Rover. It gives the car amazing low-speed urge, burbling nicely as it gs and making this off-roader quicker with its responses than it has the right to be. Harnessing all that power is a tremendous auto gearbox that slips the gears in seamlessly, so there’s no pause in its apparently endless surge of power.
It feels oppressively big if you thread through narrow, double-parked urban streets, but once you’ve left the city its high-seat driving position is a boon in traffic because you can see so far ahead.
Ride comfort is extraordinary for such a tall, heavy 4x4. While it’s not quite as composed as the Discovery, it’s still something given the Sport’s precise handling and shallow-walled tyres. It will, however, thump and patter, at times noisily, over a succession of urban road ruts. Like other Land Rovers, this 4x4 is air sprung and its ride height and stiffness is dictated by a big knob set between the front seats which you use to pick the road conditions you’re experiencing. You can also alter the ride height by tugging at a lever and there’s also a Hill Descent Control to help you negotiate a muddy downhill track.
Such full-on mud-friendliness sits oddly with a cabin that’s all light-toned leather and pale wood, even if the boot floor carpet is covered by a huge, thick rubber mat. Our top-spec HSE model is expensive, but the lavish, gadget-packed cabin shows where the money’s gone. And it is perfectly possible to spend as much of any of several rivals and end up with a less satisfying car to drive.
That cabin’s good for five, although the fatly padded chairs and vast console between the front seats leave the Sport feeling more confined than, say, the Discovery. Head and leg-room is good, though. So, too is the boot space. The rear seats fold easily to open up an enormous load space, while a tailgate that splits so that you lift only the rear window and frame, or the whole thing, is helpful. Beware, though, the full rear door is heavy, needing a meaty shove to open or close.
Running costs are, as you’d expect, only for the wealthy, while the diesel’s CO2 output will send your tax bill soaring if you run one as a company car. Fuel consumption of up to 25.5mpg is actually pretty good, though, for the performance on offer.
If your heart is set on one but the asking price new is too much, buying second-hand is an option. This model is only two years old, though, so used ones are pricey for now.
So, if you’ve plenty of money, are sold on its size and luxury, and can bear the withering stares from eco-greenies, it’s an excellent choice. If money’s no object, we’d have one like a shot.
- Engines3.6 TDV8
- 0-60 mph8.6sec
- Insurance groups16
Motors.co.uk value verdict: