Touted as “the fastest, most agile and responsive Land Rover ever”, the all-new Range Rover Sport incorporates a lot of the engineering developments featured in the latest-model Range Rover, including its larger stablemate’s aluminium architecture.
The result is an amazing weight drop of up to 420kg for the Sport that has resulted in a significant increase in performance, as well as a drop in CO2 emissions and better fuel economy.
According to John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director, the Sport’s development was focused on delivering expected off-road capability while also upping the Sport’s on-road ride and handling.
“We’ve taken ride, handling and agility to another level for Land Rover to deliver a truly rewarding, sporting drive, with unmatched luxury, capability and versatility,” Edwards said.
The Sport’s wheelbase has been extended by 178mm for more rear passenger room, but overall the new model is only 62mm longer, at 4850mm, than the previous incarnation.
It also has improved approach and departure angles, thanks to shorter front and rear overhangs, and is 55mm wider.
Off-road capability is still top-class: ground clearance has been upped to 278mm – an increase of 51mm – and the next-gen Terrain Response 2 system now automatically selects the most suitable off-road mode.
A significant off-road tweak is Land Rover attending to the main bugbear of Sport owners: the off-road suspension setting’s height/speed limit. On previous models, once the vehicle reached more than 50km/h, the suspension would automatically lower; now, with the new air suspension’s +35mm intermediate setting, the off-road mode height is available at speeds up to 80km/h.
The Sport’s two 4X4 systems represent an interesting move by Land Rover. The traditional two-speed transfer case, with low range (front/rear 50/50 torque split) is retained but is now joined by an optional single-speed transfer case with a Torsen diff (42/58 front-rear torque) that shifts torque to the axle with the most grip and works in conjunction with the Sport’s traction control systems to maintain traction.
Initially, there will be four powerplants (two petrol, two diesel) available, with a high-performance V8 diesel and a diesel hybrid to follow in 2014. The two supercharged petrol engines – 375kW/625Nm 5.0-litre V8 and 3.0-litre 250kW/450Nm V6 – are accompanied by 190kW/600Nm 3.0TDV6 and a 215kW/600Nm SDV6 oilers. All engines are backed by the ZF8HP70 eight-speed auto. Fuel consumption savings are claimed to be up to 24 percent. As expected, the Sport’s interior is even more sumptuous – and also more spacious – than the previous model. There is 24mm more knee room for those in the passenger seats and the Sport now also features an optional third row, dubbed “5+2 seating”. This third row’s two powered seats fold flat into the floor (similar to Discovery 4) so as not to compromise cargo area space.
Update:The new Range Rover Sport is available now in four equipment levels – S, SE, HSE and Autobiography, and is priced from $102,800.