The appeal of a Range Rover badge is stronger than ever. As its name suggests, the Sport is the Range Rover for keener drivers. Despite its imperious stance and high-riding nature, it feels far smaller than its sizeable exterior dimensions would have you expect, while looking just as desirable, up-to-date and modern as any other Land Rover model. It’s shorter, lower and weighs 45kg less than the regular Range Rover, and it feels a whole lot more wieldy on the road. Compared with the old Sport, it’s up to 420kg lighter, which explains why it feels so much more agile. There’s also an electrically deployable tow bar, Wi-Fi hotspot within the car, a powered tailgate, four-zone climate control with independent regulation for the rear passengers.
The plug-in hybrid, badged P400e, uses the 2.0-litre petrol engine together with a 105kW electric motor and is capable of travelling up to 30 miles on battery power alone. Combined power is 404hp with CO2 emissions ranging between 74-85g/km.
The Sport is fitted with a sophisticated suspension set-up that is designed to maximise its performance on- and off-road. It certainly performs off-road, handling deep wading, steep descents and gnarly, deep ruts with incredible ease – not least thanks to the Terrain Response 2 system which can automatically select the right driving mode for the conditions.
On the road the Sport impresses even more, displaying a level of agility and grip that belies its size. There is very little body roll and the car hoovers up twisty back roads with consummate ease. The Dynamic package includes such systems as Torque Vectoring Control that helps the 4×4 turn a tighter line.
There is an impressive range of kit that you can only expect to find on a large premium 4×4 such as keyless entry and stop/start, soft close doors, electrically heated front windscreen and rear seats that can recline, plus high-quality leather throughout, the latest Land Rover infotainment systems with large touchscreen displays and a set of crisp digital dials.
INTERIOR TECH AND LAYOUT
As you may expect from such a large car, the Sport provides a typically commanding view of the road ahead. you sit above the dashboard but the high centre console helps to keep everything close around you. This houses a pair of cupholders and the Terrain Response off-road controls, but most of the car’s other functions are controlled via a pair of touchscreens.
The top one tilts downwards when the car is switched on to make it easier to see, and is 10 inches in size –. It’s bright and crisp, bright sunlight coming through the windows and the roof, it can still be easily read. it’s easy to use with pleasant graphics and clear labelling –the contrasting colours on menus make it easy to read buttons at a glance. The lower screen is also 10 inches in size, and controls the heating, car settings and off-road controls. The dials for the temperature are also housed neatly in here, and it all looks very swish and modern.
The chunky steering wheel, adjustable for reach and rake, is tactile and the two mounted pods enables the driver to use the cruise control and audio system among others. The audio control acts as sensor pad too on the left spoke of the wheel, allowing you to adjust the volume if you swipe around the edge in a circular fashion.
Tactile quality is good, with plush materials used on the seats and there’s plenty of leather throughout on the doors and dashboard
Thanks to the Range Rover badge, there’s still a high element of comfort in the Sport. On the road, the Range Rover Sport is a very refined place to spend time in. You feel isolated from the outside world and there’s little vibration transmitted through the steering wheel, pedals and seats.
The seats are comfortable with a wide range of adjustment (all electric, of course), while the air suspension lets you waft over bumps and be adjusted for more handling composure.
Even the standard models offer a generous amount of space for passengers and a significant amount of legroom for rear passengers who can also tilt the rear seats back and forward to suit. There’s plenty of shoulder- and head-room for all passengers plus four-zone climate control.
Even models with the largest alloy wheels manage to keep road and tyre noise to a minimum.
If you want a Range Rover Sport PHEV, there’s one available in the form of the P400e. To have a Range Rover Sport with a sub-100g/km CO2 rating and the ability to waft in silence would have seemed far-fetched in the not-too-distant past. Now, this plug-in hybrid P400e model claims to possess both those traits, as well as being able to drive on electric power for up to 30 miles.
It uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine in combination with a battery and electric motor, producing a total system output of 404hp and 275Nm of torque. It’ll get from 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds, but it’s also capable of running for up to 30 miles on battery power alone when fully charged. Top speed is 137mph.