At the risk of sounding like a Land Rover fan boy, the Range Rover Sport is every bit as good as we all hoped it would be. It demonstrates, in the clearest possible way, just how good British engineers are when theyre given the money and freedom to do what they do best.
If you have the money (or, more likely, it is on your companys company car list) youll never regret buying one. Dont even bother looking at its rivals because it simply doesnt have any.
I wrote that just after spending two days in the Brecon Beacons driving the (then brand new) Range Rover Sport. As you can tell, I liked it but while first dates are often memorable, the day-to-day drudge of domesticity can blunt even the most passionate marriage.
I needed to spend some time with the Range Rover Sport. I needed to go shopping in it. Do the school run and schlep around North Wales to find out whether its a keeper – or just a one-night stand.
If the Range Rover and the Evoque consummated their relationship the offspring would look exactly like the Range Rover Sport. Which is handy, because that is exactly where it sits in Land Rovers product line. The Sport is contemporary and exactly what buyers in this market expect: discreet, but not too subtle.
Bystanders understand at a glance that you are a discerning driver with an eye for luxury and have splashed out the equivalent of a couple of northern terrace houses on your wheels. Well, if the recession really is over, theres no need to be coy anymore, is there?
The big news is that the Range Rover Sport is available with seven seats, turning a very useful car into a very, very useful one. And although theyre only suitable for small children or short journeys, at 1,600 for the pair theyre pretty cheap, too.
The rest of the interior is much as youd expect; funky, upmarket and a generally lovely place to be. The Sport is smaller than you imagine on the outside but doesnt lack for interior space and more space than you expect is always welcome, especially if it keeps fighting siblings an arms length away from each other
My HSE came with paddle shifts, 14-way heated and electric seats, power steering column adjustment, keyless entry, and parking aids including a rear view camera. Optional extras included heated front and rear seats for 300, Park Assist for 450, and WadeSensing and Blind Spot Monitoring at 750.
All seemed good value and useful to have. Im not sure I would specify privacy glass at 300, but its good value nonetheless and Im pretty sure Id skip the sliding panoramic roof at 1,500 but Im an old fuddy duddy as my children keep telling me.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox was tardy at launch and remains so today. Downshifts and gear engagement from rest are so lethargic that it became a problem on more than one occasion when exiting a junction or roundabout. Engaging Sport mode helped, but not by much.
It also hunts between ratios, ever vigilant in the search for a better ratio than the one I was already happy with; eight speeds might be nice on paper but the reality is the turbo diesel engine has such great gobs of torque available that they arent really necessary.
But gearbox aside (and you can drive around the issues even if you shouldnt have to) the rest of the Sport is as delightful as I remember it. It might be tall, but it handles more neatlythan any of its rivals and goes like a scalded cat. Its also quiet, refined, economical, and ergonomically perfect.
I didnt take it off-road this time but previous experience shows that you will bottle out before your Sport does; the use of the Range Rover name isnt just a marketing gimmick.
The 292 bhp 3-litre SDV6 turbo diesel engine whisks the Range Rover Sport to 60mph in 6.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 130 mph, while still managing to eke out around 30mpg in everyday use. Think about that sentence: sub-seven seconds to 60 mph plus 30 mpg; that might not be a unique pair of figures but it is still astonishing.
Four hundred and forty-two lb-ft of torque is enough to allow it to tow 3,500kgs (braked, and 750kgs unbraked) with ease, reinforcing Land Rovers reputation as the towing-car of choice for those who need to move seriously heavy loads.
Figures aside, the engine is civilised enough to allow normal conversation at motorway speeds while retaining enough of a purposeful grunt to reassure the driver in low-speed, low-friction environments.
Its not going to win many environmental awards but 199 g/km is a decent enough CO2 figure given the breadth and depth of its capabilities.
Value for Money
The Range Rover Sport range starts at 51,500 for the (slightly less powerful) TDV6 and rises all the way to 81,550 for the top-of-the-range supercharged petrol in Autobiography guise.
My SDV6 is probably the sweet spot in the range and can be had for just under 60,000, a figure that would need to rise only slightly to accommodate any reasonable owners choice of the options available.
Resale values will be strong so the overall running costs over three years will be more reasonable than the headline figures suggest. Discounts are likely to be rare but if you are happy to take a pre-configured model they might be possible. Why not see how much carwow could help you save over at the Range Rover Sport deals page?
The Range Rover Sport is the first date with the person you went on to marry. My first impression, albeit one gained over several hundred miles, was of an astonishingly competent car with no significant flaws, an opinion that has been only slightly marred in the last week by that recalcitrant gearbox.
For those who can afford it, the Range Rover Sport is the best all-rounder on sale today bar none. There are cars in its class that run it close (most notably the Porsche Cayenne, although the Audi Q7 is also worth a look) but none can match its stunning blend of performance, handling, practicality, and off-road competence.