Range Rover Sport is a plush athletic big beast

The Range Rover Sport.
The Range Rover Sport.

LAND Rover rolls out some pretty impressive numbers and some equally impressive claims for its new Range Rover Sport range, launched in Australia this week.

Using phrases like "best ever" and "class leading" the company says Sport now delivers the brand's best-ever on-road dynamics with class-leading all-terrain capability.

Bold claims which, I can tell you, just happen to be true and all of it capped by the sort of external muscularity that is part and parcel of the Sport name and an interior that blends sporty touches with the familiar Rangie luxury.

The numbers are magic, both from the engine and the overall package. Try a 420 kilogram weight reduction, enough to impress Jenny Craig and a number that has a huge effect on everything from handling to fuel consumption and exhaust particulates.

And here's the thing: despite the luxury and the driving dynamics, the Rangie Sport can still take anything thrown at it in an off road situation - at least everything that was thrown at it on the Australian drive program.

For this one, Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern has gone for a new look which is still unmistakeably Range Rover but different, with a little hint of Evoque thrown-in for good - and effective - measure.

It has grown by 62mm to 4850mm overall (but still 149mm shorter and 55mm lower than the regular Rangie), the wheelbase is up by 178mm and front and rear overhangs have been cut dramatically.

Width is up by 55mm and that gives it a serious road profile, especially on the biggest 22-inch wheel package.

Despite being developed alongside the Range Rover, the pair have just 25% parts commonality.

Like the entire body/chassis structure, suspension for the car is all-aluminium with double front wishbones and rear multi-links.

Wheel-travel is 260mm up front and 272mm at the rear, giving 546mm of wheel articulation.

To help off-road (and the Sport is a serious off-roader) the ground clearance can be cranked up to 278mm (51mm more than the outgoing car) and the upgraded air suspension system automatically varies between two ride heights. The Terrain Response 2 system automatically selects the most suitable terrain program as well.

This time around the car gets electric power steering and a choice of either a traditional two-speed transfer case or a single-speed case feeding a Torsen torque-sensing differential which automatically distributes torque to the axle with the most grip.

Land Rover has carried the Sport theme into the passenger compartment where a smaller diameter, thick-rimmed steering wheel, vertical gear shift lever, higher centre console, configurable mood lighting and more generous seat bolsters dominate. The interior also gets a new third seating row with what Land Rover describes as a "5+2" seating arrangement.

Other changes to the car include Adaptive Dynamics with continuously variable dampers and, on more powerful models, a dedicated Dynamic mode in the Terrain Response 2 system for enthusiastic on-road driving courtesy of a twin-channel "dynamic response" active lean control, a locking rear differential and torque vectoring by braking, which transfers torque to the outside wheels during cornering, reducing understeer.

Sport also gets Land Rover's new "wade sensing" feature that provides depth information when driving through water.

As a plus, wading depth capability has been increased by 150mm over the previous model to 850mm.

The car will be sold in four equipment grades with S, SE, HSE and Autobiography models available, bolstered by new "Dynamic" versions of the HSE and Autobiography.

Powerplant lowdown

At launch, Range Rover Sport will have four engines available, two petrol and two diesel.

The petrol engines are a 250 kilowatt, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 and a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 developing 375kW.

The two turbo diesel engines are both 3.0-litre V6 units developing 190 kilowatts in TDV6 guise and 215 kilowatts in SDV6 configuration. The line-up will be expanded early next year with the addition of a 250kW, 4.4-litre V8 supercharged diesel.

A third powertrain option, a diesel hybrid, will be added to the family in the second quarter of next year.

All petrol and diesel engines in the new Range Rover Sport are paired with ZF's electronically-controlled 8HP70 eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Living up to its "Sport" name, 0-100kmh acceleration times for the new Range Rovers start from 5.3 seconds for the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 while fuel consumption is down by up to 24% (depending on the model).

Topics:  cars news motoring range rover sport

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