Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Saturday 05 September 2009
Top speed: 140 mph 0-60mph 5.9 seconds
Consumption: 19 mpg
CO2 emissions: 374g/km
Best for: People who were thinking of buying a normal Range Rover
Also worth considering? BMW X5, Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne
Land Rover's Range Rover Sport is a superb product. If you put to one side for a moment the fact that it's a heavy SUV and judge it on its own terms, only two significant criticisms of this enormously capable off-roader have gained any traction – but what a curious pair of objections they are. The Range Rover Sport, it is said, is a great car; it's just that it's not a Range Rover and it's not very sporty either. Now there is a new heavily revamped Sport that deserves to dispel such reservations once and for all.
First, the question of the Sport's claim to be a proper Range Rover. Here the doubts have been of two sorts – technical and social. The technical objection is that the Sport shares its underlying architecture not with the current Range Rover but with the less expensive Discovery. The social objection is that while the Range Rover is associated with respectable old money, the Sport is a blinged-up chav-chariot. These reservations are nonsense; the Discovery platform is outstanding and for my money the Sport is a better looking car than the standard Range Rover as well. Contrast the Sport's low roofline and stylishly raked rear pillar with the loose, slightly flabby flanks of the mainstream Rangie; if anything, the Sport recaptures the essential dash of the original 1970 Range Range better than today's Range Rover itself does. Better materials and detailing mean the revised Sport is classier – or more Range Rovery – than ever.
And how sporty is the revised Sport? This car has now been reborn as a Cayenne-basher; steering, braking and the rest of its on-road behaviour have been sharpened up considerably, and it is now much quicker thanks to a pair of deeply new impressive engines. The first of these is a supercharged five-litre V8 producing about 500 horsepower, putting it on a par with BMW's benchmark M5 performance saloon. Even fighting against the Sport's weight, the supercharged engine delivers scintillating performance, but only for the few prepared to countenance the high fuel bills involved. The good news? The standard V6 diesel that most buyers will opt for has been replaced with an enlarged, much more powerful version, which can be classified as fairly sporty as well.
So the worked-over Range Rover Sport is a proper Range Rover and it is sporty. But it's still a big heavy SUV, and fixing that means challenging the very core of what makes a Land Rover a Land Rover. That could be a risky business.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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