Range Rover Sport Review
The Range Rover Sport is a luxurious SUV with space for five adults and a decent boot. It’s comfortable and relaxing to drive, but alternatives are more fun
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The Range Rover Sport is a good choice if you want a posh looking and feeling SUV that’s brilliant for family life. Other models are even sportier to drive but few can match the Range Rover’s mix of agility, luxury and impressive off-road ability.
It’s the Sir Ranulph Fiennes of the premium SUV world, while the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 are all a bit more Bear Grylls. Sure, they’re good when the going gets tough, but the Range Rover goes about its business with a stiffer upper lip, relying on Land Rover’s huge experience away from the Tarmac.
Look past the Sport’s slightly fiddly infotainment system, however, and you’ll also find it very practical indeed. There’s acres of space in the front and enough room for two tall adults in the back. You can add a third row of seats to turn it into a seven-seater, but the rearmost seats are only really suitable for kids. It also has a boot that’s large and easy to load.
The Range Rover Sport isn’t just a big practical box on wheels, however – it also feels very upmarket thanks to its lashings of leather and numerous metal and satin-effect trims. Few alternatives can match the feel-good factor of the Range Rover Sport’s luxurious cabin.
They also struggle to match the Range Rover Sport’s comfort – especially on the motorway. Its standard air suspension smooths out most bumps and potholes and all cars come with laminated windows that keep road and wind noise to an absolute minimum.
Driving the Range Rover Sport feels a bit like nipping to the shops in Windsor Castle
All models get an eight-speed automatic gearbox that changes gear very smoothly as standard, too. It’s nowhere near as responsive as the ‘boxes you get in a BMW or Audi, but it’s so relaxing that you won’t care.
That’s not to say the Range Rover Sport isn’t quick. All models have a decent turn of speed, but you’re best off going for a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel for its mixture of refinement, fuel economy and performance. There are also V8 petrols if you need more oomph, or a plug-in hybrid if you use your Sport for work and want to spend less on company car tax.
Whichever engine you pick, it’s worth knowing that the Range Rover Sport is – unlike most premium SUVs – very good off-road. Sure, you’ll probably never use it, but just knowing you can go places most others can’t is all part of the experience of owning a car like this.
Safety will likely take a higher precedence if you’ll be using it to carry your family though, so you’ll be pleased to hear the Range Rover Sport was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP. The only slight fly in the ointment is that the score was achieved under 2012’s less stringent test conditions, and more advanced safety systems that are standard in alternatives from Audi and Mercedes cost extra in the Range Rover.
Nonetheless, it still deserves a place on your shortlist if you’re on the hunt for a luxurious SUV that can take family life and the odd off-road jaunt in its stride. Head to our deals page to find the best prices.
The plush Range Rover Sport has space for five people and a practical boot that luxury saloons can only dream of, but sadly the third row of seats is only suitable for kids.
All Range Rover Sports come with a driver’s seat that adjusts for height and a steering wheel that moves electrically for height and reach – this means you’ll be able to get comfy no matter what size you are.
HSE models come with 16-way electrically adjustable heated front seats with a memory function so you can return the seat to your driving position after someone else has used the car.
The seats’ breadth of adjustment means it’s easy to get comfortable and adjustable lumbar support is also standard to fend off aches and pains on longer journeys. If that’s a problem for you it’s worth considering the optional massaging front seats, too.
High-spec Anniversary Dynamic models get seats with 22-way electrical adjustment and in-built fans to cool your backside on hot summer days. Even the rear seats can be cooled (if you’re happy to pay extra) but all Range Rover Sports come with heated outer rear seats as standard.
On the subject of rear seats, the Range Rover Sport’s tall, boxy body means there’s loads of room in the back for tall adults to get comfortable without their heads touching the ceiling. The back seats recline a few degrees to let them stretch out and they can slide backwards if you want to sacrifice some boot space for a little extra legroom.
Unfortunately, the seats themselves are mounted quite low to the floor which leaves your passenger’s legs slightly unsupported and there isn’t a great deal of space under the front seats for their feet, either.
The cabin is pretty wide, however, so the back seats don’t feel cramped – even with three passengers aboard. The only problem is the centre seat itself, which is harder and thinner than the chairs on either side.
Fitting a child seat to the middle row is relatively easy because the Range Rover’s large rear door openings and raised roof mean you don’t have to bend your back when lifting in the seat. Unfortunately, clicking a seat base into the hidden Isofix anchor points is quite literally a stab in the dark.
If you want to carry even more passengers you can pay extra to have two extra seats fitted in the Range Rover Sport’s boot. It’s quite an expensive upgrade, however, and these seats are only really big enough for children. They’re not particularly easy to climb into, either, because of the very small gap left behind the middle row of seats.
Interior storage is something the Range Rover Sport does pretty well. It has large front door bins will swallow a 1.5-litre bottle of water, but the shape of the doors means it’s a pain to actually fit such a large bottle in – especially in the back.
You get two gloveboxes in the front, but the topmost one is so small as to be pretty much useless. Thankfully, there’s space for a few large bottles in the second glovebox and under the central front armrest.
Both the front and the rear seats get two cupholders – up front they’re sunk into the centre console and will hold a big Thermos mug as easily as they’ll take a paper cup from a service station. The ones in the back are hidden behind the rear-centre armrest and are better suited to smaller coffees.
In raw capacity terms, the Range Rover Sport’s 489-litre boot doesn’t compare that well to the boots in sporty SUV rivals such as the Audi Q8 and the BMW X6. It’s still very practical though, thanks to a boxy shape and a flat boot opening that means heavy items can be slid easily into place.
All Range Rover Sports – besides 2.0-litre SD4 diesel models – come with air suspension that can drop the car’s ride height to make the boot easier to load, and if your hands are full you can open the boot by waggling your foot under the rear bumper. An unusual option is the completely waterproof activity key wristband, which allows you to lock the normal key in the car when you’re taking part in adventurous outdoor activities where it might get damaged.
The big boot means the Range Rover Sport has no problem carrying a baby buggy or a couple of large suitcases with the parcel shelf still in place. Drop the back seats down – they split 60:40, so you can carry a mixture of up to two rear-seat passengers and long luggage – and you get a 1,761-litre load bay that’s big enough to tackle a small house move. Unfortunately, you can’t fold the back seats down remotely – you’ll have to walk around to the back doors to pull on the levers instead.
It’s annoying that a ski hatch – to let you poke long items through the middle of the back seats from the boot – is an option across the range. Another feature you’ll have to fork out extra for is the three-pin plug socket in the boot. It will make hoovering out the hairs from your prize-winning hounds much easier, however.
The Range Rover Sport is comfortable, fast in a straight line and quiet at cruise. Petrol models cost a fortune to run, though.
The Range Rover Sport’s engine range includes four, six and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid model with a four-cylinder petrol plus electric assistance.
You’ll probably find the entry-level 300hp 3.0-litre diesel makes the most sense. Its six cylinders mean it is very smooth and quiet so it’s an ideal match for the Sport’s comfortable driving manner. It gets from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and has plenty of power in reserve for overtaking slow-moving traffic. Expect fuel economy of around 35mpg if driven carefully.
Of course, if you want serious performance, then the V8 petrols are the best bet. They use a serious amount of fuel too, though, so factor that in if you don’t like stopping too often on your way to Nice each summer.
The Range Rover Sport hybrid may be worth considering if you drive a Sport for work and regularly travel into central London, but it’ll only manage a modest 31 miles on electric-only power before you’ll need to recharge its batteries.
There’s no denying the Range Rover Sport is a huge SUV, but it’s surprisingly easy to drive. Much of this is down to the brilliant view you get out of the car.
Unlike some SUVs, the Range Rover is genuinely tall, so you can see over cars in front and plan your route through busy streets. Even the view rearward is pretty decent thanks to the big windows and thin pillars.
Front and rear parking sensors come as standard across the range, but even if you’re a confident parker it is worth considering the optional Park Pack. It adds a 360-degree view camera that makes it easy to park the car tight against the kerb without damaging your wheels. It’s standard on Autobiography models and a reasonably affordable option on the rest of the range.
Thankfully, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard and its creep function makes low-speed manoeuvring a doddle. It’s not as responsive as the automatic gearboxes you get in an Audi Q8 or BMW X6, but it suits the Range Rover Sport’s relaxed driving nature well.
If you regularly do lots of long journeys, the Range Rover Sport is a brilliant car to do them in. All models come with air suspension that soaks up large bumps in the road extremely well. It sometimes struggles to iron out smaller imperfections, but at least you get laminated windows to help make the Sport’s cabin extremely quiet – even at high speeds.
The suspension is slightly firmer than you get in a full-sized Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport suffers from less body lean in corners as a result. That being said, if you want a big SUV that is genuinely fun to drive you’ll be much better off going for a Porsche Cayenne.
If you want an SUV that can go off-road though, forget the Porsche and stick with the Range Rover. It comes as standard with Terrain Response or, if you pick an HSE Dynamic model and up, Terrain Response 2.
The former allows you to select from different modes that alter the car’s four-wheel-drive system, gearbox and (on models with air suspension) ride height to tackle different terrains – such as sand, rocks and snow. Terrain Response 2, meanwhile, does exactly the same – but automatically switches between modes.
The clever electronics aren’t reserved for off-roading, however. The Range Rover Sport’s also available with a full suite of safety kit as part of the Drive Pro Pack that’s a pricey option on all but the Autobiography model. The pack includes active cruise control – that can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preset cruising speed when the road is clear – and a blind-spot warning system.
It is worth going for because, although the full-sized Range Rover (which the Sport shares many of its parts) scored five stars for safety from Euro NCAP, the test has got much tougher since its 2012 evaluation.
The Range Rover Sport’s interior has more leather and wood than the stud pen at a cattle farm, but the infotainment isn’t as easy to use as in other posh SUVs.