New 2013 Range Rover Sport review, test drive

Autocar India
First Published: 16:19 IST(4/7/2013)
Last Updated: 15:27 IST(5/7/2013)
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Purists probably refuse to believe it, but there is a case to be made for sports SUVs. It’s not easy to take a big, boxy SUV with a high centre of gravity and lots of drag and make it fun to drive,
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but that’s what the Range Rover Sport is all about, and the 2013 version claims to have taken the game leaps forward. The boffins say it’s the fastest, most agile and most responsive Land Rover ever, and I went to the UK to find out if it was all they claimed it to be.

When you first lay eyes on the Sport, the Range Rover DNA is all there, but there’s a lot more of the Evoque in the styling now. The floating roof and wedge shape, although less harsh, give the car style. The square look has become more curved and flowing now, and the Sport uses the all-aluminium chassis of the full-size Range Rover, which has given it a 39 percent weight advantage over its predecessor, promising better performance, dynamics and efficiency.

 

The interior of our test car was a flashy red-and-black leather-trimmed affair, with a little too much red, frankly. But don’t worry, you can opt for more subdued interior trims. Quality was, as always, faultless and top notch. Familiar stitched leather envelops you, the buttons and knobs all feel perfect, there is a smaller, sportier steering wheel at your fingertips, and the smart LCD dials are always easy to read. The only downside was the infotainment system, which is a little complicated to use.

The beautiful countryside around Cheltenham proved to be the perfect testing ground, with a good mix of narrow winding sections and straight-on highways.

 

The interior of our test car was a flashy red-and-black leather-trimmed affair, with a little too much red, frankly. But don’t worry, you can opt for more subdued interior trims. Quality was, as always, faultless and top notch. Familiar stitched leather envelops you, the buttons and knobs all feel perfect, there is a smaller, sportier steering wheel at your fingertips, and the smart LCD dials are always easy to read. The only downside was the infotainment system, which is a little complicated to use.

The beautiful countryside around Cheltenham proved to be the perfect testing ground, with a good mix of narrow winding sections and straight-on highways.

The 2013 Range Rover Sport is 55mm wider than before and it looks huge, but the driving position is great. And though I feared the small, winding, single-lane country roads and traffic initially, once on the move I never felt uneasy, and it was amazing how the car just wrapped itself around me.

 

The supercharged 5.0-litre V8 model with 503bhp is very, very quick, and rest assured you will run out of courage before it runs out of power. Flex your right foot and the muted growl begs you to smash the throttle to the floor. The alacrity with which this engine leaps to life is thrilling – 100kph comes up in just 5.3 seconds, and that’s impressive considering you are pulling 2.3 tonnes of metal along with you. The corners leap at you quickly and just as you think it’s going to step out of line, the Range Rover Sport hugs the corner and goes around. Put it into Dynamic mode and it hunkers down even further, the shifts become lightning quick, the suspension tightens up and you fly around corners with just a whisper of body roll. With its predecessor, you always felt like you were fighting its considerable mass, but the 420-odd-kg weight reduction has turned it into a new animal. There really is some credence to the ‘Sport’ moniker this time around.

Land Rover has thrown its full arsenal of chassis technology into the new Sport to raise the fun factor from behind the wheel. An adaptive dynamic system monitors sensor readings 500 times per second, torque vectoring brakes the inside wheel for sharper cornering, and there are continuously variable dampers and a locking rear differential. It all works away silently so that you can confidently test your limits.

 

However, shift it out of Dynamic and settle into a comfortable cruise, and you will waft to your destination without knowing what is happening in the world outside; the silent cabin and adaptive suspension will ensure you don’t feel a thing. The ride quality was truly impressive, even on the 21-inch wheels our car was running. For India’s mangled roads, however, we will get the smaller 19-inch rims.

If you get into the 288bhp V6 diesel after the supercharged V8 petrol, you are bound to be a little disappointed. But, on its own, the diesel is an amazingly refined powerplant that lets you ride a delicious wave of torque once the turbocharger kicks in. Before that it is a tad lazy, especially if you want to get a sudden move on. However, if you amble around at lower speeds and at part-throttle, it does just fine. It brings up 100kph from a standstill in 7.2 seconds and that, by any means, is quick.

Off the tarmac, the various modes in the Range Rover Sport’s ‘Terrain Response’ system were given a thorough workout. We waded through water, drove through some pretty slippery slush, went down serious inclines and then some. But after all that, I still felt fresh as a daisy – and that’s what Range Rovers do best.

The Sport will come to India this October with two engines – the 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 with 503bhp and the 288bhp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Ex-showroom prices should be between Rs. 90 lakh and Rs. 1.3 crore, and if you’re the kind of person who likes both the thrill of a fast, sharp-handling sports car and the rugged appeal of a proper off-roader rolled into one vehicle, few other SUVs can combine it better than this.

 

 

 


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