The Range Rover Sport, the most dynamic vehicle ever built by the carmaker, was revealed. Its price starts at EUR 35.500. The model is replaced by a quicker item, offering more road feedback and quicker responses. Land Rover upgraded the springs and dampers and lowered the roll center of the car. Actually the most innovative feature of the Sports underpinning the Dynamic Response is a set of anti-roll bars that can be engaged or decoupled according to demand. It is powered by a V8 engine that is capable of producing 390 BHP and 410 lb. ft. of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and can reach a top speed of 140 mph. Two other engines are also offered: a normally aspirated 4.4-liter V8 that produces 295 BHP and an entry-level turbo-diesel that develops 190 BHP.
Slotting Between The Discovery3 And The Luxurious Range Rover Comes The Range Rover Sport, The Companys Most Dynamic Vehicle Ever.
You could hear it a long time before you could see it. The distinctive throb of a V8 engine pulling hard from low revs metamorphosed into a harder edged yowl as a dazzling set of driving lights crested the rise to the Karusell at Germanys Nurburgring race track. The vehicle may have been plastered with duct tape to disguise its detailing but it was obvious by the cars poise through the corner and the giveaway lower roof line that this was no ordinary Range Rover. It was some time later that we realised what wed been watching that chilly September morning had been a Range Rover Sport.
Perhaps the Range Stormer concept vehicle that was first aired at the 2004 Detroit Motor Show had primed us for something a little more extreme in its execution, but the Range Rover Sport isnt the head turner many expected it to be. In fact, only the more trained eye will be able to differentiate between one of these and the existing luxury Range Rover flagship. Park the two vehicles side by side, however, and the changes become a good deal more obvious. As well as the lower roof, the wheelbase is also a good deal shorter, giving the Sport a far more pugnacious look than the majestic Range Rover.
Prices start at ?35,500. The wheelarches are subtly flared, thin side vents sit behind the front wheels and theres a sharp swage line that runs along the cars hips. The windscreen is sharply raked back and the perforated front grille looks like a set of expensive kitchen knives. The biggest change from the show car is the move from three doors to five and if there was a feeling that the design has been unacceptably watered down, the detailing of the Range Rover Sport could well change your opinion.
Its beautifully executed. Its also a landmark vehicle for a company with a whole lot more autonomy. Just five years ago, Land Rover could never have built a car of this kind. Their owners at the time (BMW) didnt want a sports crossover vehicle like this poaching sales from their all-conquering X5.
It was only as recently as 2000 that plans were first laid for a chassis platform that would spawn two very different vehicles. The first was the Discovery3 and the second was this, the Range Rover Sport. Both ride on a monocoque chassis and double wishbone suspension that offers far better on-road ride and handling than any previous Land Rover product.
"This isnt just a typical Chelsea tractor. Its a Land Rover product"
The Range Rover Sport features an even more focused set up. The steering rack has been replaced by a quicker item, offering more road feedback and quicker responses. To help cut the pitch and roll that quick changes of direction tend to generate, Land Rover have also upgraded the springs and dampers and lowered the cars roll centre. Perhaps the most innovative feature of the Sports underpinnings is Dynamic Response, a set of anti roll bars that can be engaged or decoupled according to demand.
Standard on the flagship supercharged model and an option on the other models in the range, Dynamic Response also decouples when off roading in order to allow greater wheel articulation. The engines are worth examining. Naturally the one that will garner the most column inches is the 4.2-litre supercharged V8.
In case its already popped a lightbulb in your head, the engine is based on the Jaguar AJ-V8 unit although it has been adapted for use in a Land Rover product. This involves waterproofing, adjusting the engines torque response and fitting additional oil baffles to allow it to operate reliably at unusually steep angles. With 390bhp on tap, this is a very serious piece of engineering and will generate 410lb/ft of torque. Its enough to propel the Range Rover Sport through 60mph in 6.
8 seconds and on to a top speed of 140mph. The maximum velocity would be a good deal higher were it not for the tyre rating. The Continental rubber features tread that extends high onto the sidewalls as if to remind rivals that this isnt just a typical Chelsea tractor. Its a Land Rover product.
Two other engines are also offered. Theres a normally aspirated 4.4-litre V8 good for 295bhp and what is the biggest seller of the range, an entry-level 190bhp common rail turbodiesel, again of Jaguar origin. Trim levels range from S through SE and HSE to the range-topping HST thats only offered with the supercharged V8 engine.
Under normal conditions, drive is split 50:50 between the front and rear axles although it can instantaneously switch according to demand. The Sport also gets the Terrain Response system first seen in the Discovery3. This is virtually akin to having an expert sitting alongside you, helping to get the best out of the vehicle, on or off road. The driver chooses one of five terrain setttings via a rotary knob mounted on the centre console.
Theres a general driving programme plus one for slippery conditions (dubbed grass/gravel/snow) and three specialist off road modes (mud/ruts, sand, rock crawl). The system will then automatically select the optimum setup for the electronic controls and the traction aids. This encompasses ride height, torque response, hill descent control, electronic traction control and transmission settings. The interior of the Range Rover Sport is a little more conventional than the Discovery3, with many of the controls angled towards the driver.
Although rear seat space isnt the greatest, the payoff is the biggest boot in its class. An aluminium hatch with separately opening rear window glass is a neat finishing touch. Land Rover are bullish about the Range Rover Sports prospects, expecting it to shift around 35,000 units a year in a turbulent market sector. They could well be pleasantly surprised.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Range Rover Sport range
PRICE: ?35,500-?63,000 - on the road
INSURANCE GROUP: 13-17
CO2 EMISSIONS: 271-374g/km
PERFORMANCE: [V8 Supercharged] Max Speed 140mph / 0-60mph 7.2s
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [V8 Supercharged] 17.8mpg (combined)
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front and side airbags, ABS, ETC, EBA, DSC
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 4695/1915/1891mm
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