The words ‘Sport’ and ‘Range Rover’ have been unusual bedfellows for close to two decades. Sitting high and weighing in at close to two and half tonnes, its athletic ability might not be the first thing a casual observer might call out to describe the new Range Rover Sport, but 18 years on from the model’s debut and the latest Sport has arrived to prove us all wrong.
Descended from the radical Range Stormer concept that made its debut in 2004, the Sport marked the point at which the Range Rover model range expanded beyond the original — a trend that would eventually give way to the Evoque in 2008 and the Velar in 2017. While welly-wearing Range Rover purists panned it before they’d even slotted in behind the wheel, the Sport would prove a success and a highly desirable alternative to the ‘full-fat’ Range Rover.
“Our latest Range Rover Sport embraces fully our modernist approach of vehicle design,” says Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer, Prof Gerry McGovern OBE. Continuing his ‘reductive’ design philosophy, the long-time Land Rover design chief barely had time to take his ballpoint off the sketchpad between the launch of the new Range Rover and the next generation Sport.
Championing the same, squat stance and clean, confident styling as found on its more stately sibling, the Sport is a more dynamic take on McGovern and his team’s design direction.
From the side silhouette, you might be hard pushed to tell it apart from the existing Sport but it’s the re-worked front and back that set the latest generation apart from its predecessors. Slimmer, ‘stealth-like’ LED lights slot in between the Sport’s cam-shell bonnet at the front and it’s new, smooth tailgate at the back. That, coupled with the intricate front bumper and wider stance make for a menacing appearance, while ensuring it sits in-line with its new, elder sibling.
On the inside, it’s a case of streamline, refine and add tech, as the Sport now features the same centrally-mounted 13-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen found in the Range Rover which stands proud of a sleek, fuss-free dash. As the name would suggest, everything about the Sport is designed to hint at the car’s performance and dynamic qualities, so expect the driving experience and new ‘Command’ driving position to echo this when it hits the road later this year.
On that very note, the Sport’s party piece – of course – was always its driving style, which added a touch of spice to the well-trodden SUV formula. With the range-topping model equipped with a BMW-derived twin-turbocharged V8 engine, expect the Sport to live up to its name, boasting 525bhp and 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds.
Helping it transfer all that power to the road is all-new architecture under the skin and a high-tech chassis system, which combines electric (48-volt) roll control, trick air suspension, rear-wheel steering, an electric active differential and torque vectoring to make Land Rover’s stiffest body ever.
“The result is the most engaging and thrilling Range Rover Sport ever…”
“All that comes together to deliver the highest levels of dynamism we’ve ever seen on Range Rover Sport,” says Nick Collins, Jaguar Land Rover’s Executive Director for Vehicle Programmes. “The result is the most engaging and thrilling Range Rover Sport ever.”
For those looking for something a little more canine and kid-friendly, the Sport can be chosen with six-cylinder petrol, two six-cylinder diesels plus a pair of hybrid plug-ins (434 or 503bhp), which promise to do 54 real-world miles on pure electric. Adding to that, much like it’s all-new sibling, the Sport will be offered as an all-electric model in 2024, so hold out a little longer for those looking for an alternative to the Tesla Model Y.
With the order books now open, all that’s left to discuss is the price, which starts from a touch under £80,000. Steep, I hear you say? Perhaps. But, considering the new Range Rover starts at a snip under £100,000, the Sport could be seen as a more justifiable purchase – so long as you swerve the extensive options list, that is. Like its predecessors, the Sport will be made in Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull factory, flying the flag for UK car manufacturing once again.
With the dust still settling on frenzy that followed the launch of the new Range Rover a few months ago, Range Rover fans will be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking their next ride. With promising performance figures from the Sport, you might want to consult the pooch before making the purchase, however.
Want more from Range Rover? Here’s how Gerry McGovern designed the latest generation car…
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