New Range Rover Sport : First Drive
- by Cyrus Dhabhar
- Oct 19, 2013
- Views : 77011
We drive Land Rover's all-new Range Rover Sport on and off the road to see if it deserves the Range Rover and Sport badge in one package
Land Rover is on a revival. A renaissance of sorts if one may say so. The Range Rover Evoque that put Land Rover back in the spotlight a few years ago was the start of what has proved to be a complete change in both the appeal and brand image of the Land Rover group in general. Last year, Land Rover launched a new version of it’s flagship Range Rover amidst much pomp and immediately, it became a benchmark for most other manufacturers both in terms of style and performance. And then earlier this year, Land Rover decided to use the combined firepower and style of James Bond and the Manhattan skyline to launch the brand new Range Rover Sport at a star-studded event in New York. Being one of Land Rover’s best selling models in history, the new Range Rover Sport did have big shoes to fill.
At first glance, the Range Rover Sport looks very similar to the Range Rover Evoque in terms of styling. But, although there are some styling features that are similar to those found on the Evoque, the Sport is a whole different ballgame. The new Range Rover Sport seems to be the perfect blend between the edgy and modern looking Evoque and the royal and regal looking flagship Range Rover. The all-new Range Rover Sport is 62mm longer and 55mm wider than the previous generation model. The wheelbase too is substantially longer by 178mm, which in turn means that the new Range Rover Sport is much bigger on the inside than the outgoing model. Although bigger on paper than the outgoing model, careful styling has made Range Rover Sport loose a majority of it’s visual bulk thereby making it much more pleasing to the eye.
Lets start from the front then. With a highly detailed headlamp unit, featuring Land Rover’s distinctive LED festooned daytime running light setup and a large central projector complementing the bespoke dual-slat grille, the Range Rover Sport does look pretty spectacular. What really did catch our attention the most was how the designer’s managed to nail how the styling line that divides the bonnet from the front bumper is carried over in perfect harmony through the headlight and down the side and fusing seamlessly into the tail lights which in turn fused into the chrome accent piece on the tailgate.
Land Rover’s new design elements that we have become so used to in the Evoque seems to be all over the Range Rover Sport too with it’s similarly flared wheel arches and the car’s overall waistline that further helps in the reduction of the visual mass along the side of the car. As we mentioned before, the design seems seamless and bespoke, however, there are some parts of the rear that could have done with a slight bit more detail than what is currently offered. For starters, the tail light seem to be much smaller than everything else thereby somehow looking mismatched to the rest of the car. The same can also be said about the exhaust tips that just end up looking way too small and slightly odd. That said, the culmination of everything into one package seems to work extremely well and the Range Rover Sport is certainly one of the best-looking SUV’s on offer today.
On the interior front, the Range Rover Sport is as well appointed as you can imagine a Range Rover to be. With a bespoke steering wheel that looks like it came of a Spaceship and a large and crisp instrument binnacle, the Range Rover Sport is a pleasant place to be in. The cascading central console too is crafted beautifully and oozes sheer quality. What did entice us though was the centrally mounted infotainment console with it’s large touch screen that made going through all the options a joy. The screen also shows crucial data like articulation, water wading depth and differential lock percentage while one is off-roading thereby ensuring best results. The seats too are absolutely wonderful, both up front and in the back making the Range Rover Sport an absolute joy to be in.
Do does it drive as well as it looks? Well, like in foreign markets, the Range Rover Sport will be offered with two engine options, the V6 Turbocharged Diesel and V8 Supercharged Petrol. The V6 diesel mill, which will be the preferred choice for most customers in India, makes 292PS and an impressive 600Nm of torque. The Petrol engined Range Rover Sport is equipped with a 5.0-Litre V8 supercharged mill that produces 510PS and an earth shattering 625NM of Torque.
We had the chance to drive the V6 Diesel powered Sport both on and off the road and boy were we impressed! Not only is the diesel a joy to drive due to it’s monstrous 600Nm of torque, the ease with which it covers distances is spectacular. The Range Rover Sport is like a Bentley Continental GT, which can sit seven people and go through a meter of water without batting an eyelid. There is no hint of turbo lag in the diesel engine and power delivery is linear and tremendous through the entire rev-range. Both the petrol and the diesel come equipped with the highly acclaimed 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox that ensures seamless shifting. On the off-road trail that we tested the car on, the Range Rover Sport not only met our expectations, but exceeded it. Steep rocky inclines, water wading, mud and slush, axle twisting articulation and much more did not seem to bother the Range Rover Sport as it just did it’s job with grace and with ease.
Although the engine options are similar to the one’s offered in the last generation Range Rover Sport, the biggest difference by a country mile is the difference in weight : The new Range Rover Sport is almost 400kg lighter than it’s predecessor! As compared to the older Range Rover Sport, which did feel a little uncomfortable in the corners due to it’s sheer mass, this new Range Rover Sport feels planted and agile. In Dynamic mode, the new Range Rover Sport is as hunkered down and sporty as you can imagine and all the clever electronic wizardry helps disguise it’s sheer size to perfection. In fact, the all-new Range Rover Sport is so good through the corners that one tends to forget that it can also go off-road with equal potency.
On the whole then, the Range Rover Sport looks good, has seven seats, drives exceptionally well, has a potent diesel engine and a fantastic interior. As much as we tried to find a fault in it, we simply could not. The new Range Rover Sport is perhaps the best SUV in recent times and most certainly one of the best SUVs to have ever come out of the Land Rover Stable. With the diesel engined Sport offered in three variants, the S, SE and HSE with prices staring at Rs 1.09 Crore (ex-showroom, Mumbai) and the petrol version in Autobiography trim starting at Rs 1.65 Crore, the new Range Rover Sport is a tad bit more expensive than it’s outgoing version but then, it offers a whole lot more. Is it worth it? Our verdict : a resounding YES!
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