Range Rover Sport

One step ahead of all

"The new Sport was developed alongside the Range Rover, yet maintains its identity as 75 percent of the parts are Sport-only"

"The first-in-class aluminium architecture saving a weight up to 420kg"

"An ultimate blend of luxury and true Sport"

"The torque is the exciting factor. Press the start button and there you go," said Ershad

Now that's a car completely reborn. I mean it, and if it was Mr. Bee from planet Pluto going through the photos, he would not even know that the all new 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is actually a follow-up to the 2013 model.  I know it's a bit of a hyperbole, but that was my initial feel.

Driving Impressions
Launched in 2013, the new Sport was developed alongside the mighty Range Rover, yet maintains its identity as 75 percent of the parts are Sport-only. The model goes by an eco-friendly theme by using a predominant chunk of raw material from recycled aluminum for the body, renewable leather and recycled plastics. The old Sport version had a close resemblance to the big Rangie mostly because of its boxy structure with sharp edges. Here's where the new Sport has evolved. In the new Sport, we spot many Evoque design cues applied all over. The car gets curvy edges with a modern sleek concept.

Basically, Range Rover Sport is a midsize five-passenger SUV. Like the big Rangie, our Sport variant ditched the old steel ladder frame to adopt the first-in-class aluminium architecture saving a weight up to 420kg. This directly enhances dynamic performance to offer agile handling and a comfortable ride. The car is longer and the wheelbase is also increased (by 178mm) which technically offers a little more room for rear passengers. It may look like an Evoque; seen through magnifying glasses, you spot those smooth slashes, nice side vents and lookalike bumpers and fenders. Shorter overhangs at the front and rear are wider and good for off-road action. With such a profile and a sloping roofline, the new Range Rover Sport gets more aerodynamic. Wheels are available from 19"-22" sizes with an attractive viper's nest spoke design. So that's about the beauty outside.

Inside the Range Rover Sport is an ultimate blend of luxury and true Sport. We write this phrase quite often but let me be honest, I love this car. High quality soft touch surfaces in key touch points around the cabin look even better with authentic metallic details. In the center stack are striking satin chrome pillars, each side with plated finish. We also noticed aluminium finish on the center console, dashboard and door trims. Steering wheel was thick; leather wrapped with a small diameter, hence, giving a small car-like feel. It borrows the vertical gear shifter from the Jaguar F type, unlike the old round knob shifter. The center console is in a higher position and this time we are very impressed with the seat bolsters; they are supportive and make sure the driver stays close to the action. For data display and entertainment feeds, there is an 8 inch dual view front touchscreen, full rear seat entertainment (RSE) package with twin 10.2 inch video screens and a dedicated touchscreen remote control. They come with Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming that can be fed through a DVD player, hard disk, iPod and USB connection. We weren't too impressed with the touch response as there was a little delay - unacceptable in a premium car. For entertainment, we've got a meridian surround sound audio system: 825 watts with 19 speakers including subwoofer.

Moving on to safety features, I can quickly write down a list which is unavoidable in a Range Rover. Starting from seven airbags for front, side curtain, driver's knee all the way to ABS, EBA, EBD, CBC (cornering brake control), HDC and EPB (electric parking brake) in the braking department to ETC (electronic traction control), DSC, RSC and adaptive dynamic and torque vectoring for stability. Other features include adaptive cruise control and high beam assist, adaptive xenon headlamps with LED signature, powered tailgate, park assist, front and rear parking aid with surround cameras, cooled front cubby box, blind spot monitor and closing vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection.

I really got a kick out on just feeling the torque. That's a massive 625Nm@2,500-5,500rpm. The engine block is all aluminum V8, 32 valves, longitudinally mounted, supercharged 5.0liter. The output is well under 510hp transferred through the ZF 8 speed automatic transmission. How about that for a car of this size and a weight 2,310kg!

As I said, the torque is the exciting factor here. Press the start button and there you go. Engine note tells you the effort put into tuning and by the time we crossed 100kph, we were just 5.5seconds from stand still. We were happy with the all-disc braking system of the lightweight Brembos. Transmission was smooth where downshifts were flawless when power required and then caught up the momentum without a pause. Steering hold was best in class, but I expect to see even more direct feedback next year. We didn't notice body roll most of the times and the big wheels were tight intact. Yet if you try to overdo it on sharp corners, there can be a little roll, as the car is still a 2,310kg block after all the weight shedding has been done. Cruising on the highway was an absolute joy as it was quiet and smooth, and if we overtook another vehicle, a nimble push to the accelerator pedal was more than enough. So the road performance and comfort looks improved since last time.

While Range Rovers are known for off-road potential, we were limited to driving on odd gravel surfaces within city limits. There's an auto setting here which uses its intelligence to select a terrain mode depending on driving conditions, be it grass, gravel, snow, mud, sand or rock crawl. Each setting optimizes traction and ride by altering the center differential, chassis systems and gear mode to match the terrain demand. My ride was mostly nonstop and I felt confident about not losing track. We further have an intelligent full time 4WD system to tackle low grip roads.

Verdict
This is a statement. Unlike other brands, Land Rover decided to stay close to its roots. There's no intention to let go of the brand's legendary off-road capability while improving luxury notes, engineering and style. Competition is from Germany where you have the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes Benz M class and BMW X5. While they stay in close proportion when it comes to comfort and handling, we spot the main differentiator: the all new Range Rover Sport is one step ahead of them all and is a bloody off roader!

Pros: Off-road potential, new style, comfort, driver engaging, luxurious cabin, good space for rear seats
Cons: Fuel economy, some people still like the old boxy Sport model
Rivals: Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M class
Engine: 5.0 Liter Supercharged, V8, 510 hp, 625 Nm
Transmission: ZF 8 speed Auto, 4WD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 5.5 sec, 13.7 L /100 km, Top speed: 225 kph
Curb Weight: 2,310 k
One word: Beyond

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