I usually hate snow. As lovely and white and virginal as it might appear on the surface, it has an underlying dark side which makes driving unpleasant and arduous. I don’t want it on my patch, it’s as simple as that; except of course when my ride is the magnificent Range Rover Sport you see in the images. When I heard that the Sport was booked it was like the sound of music to my ears. The cold white stuff would be a welcome distraction.
Alas, it was not to be. It’s been freezing cold and we’ve had a day of tumultuous rain but snow stayed resolutely unavailable. Such is life. There is however so much more to Land Rover’s finest that the week was not exactly a dead loss.
The Range Rover has been tested extensively and you will have already read plenty of reviews that detail the nuts and bolts of the thing so it doesn’t serve to detail the details here. Suffice to say that the model was the Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic version (see here), loaded to the max with many options. They are all listed below for fact-hungry readers.
The Range Rover (don’t ever call it a ‘Rangie’ in my earshot) is Mrs DriveWrite’s favourite car by a country mile so, to keep her happy, we drove many of them during the vehicle’s short stay. It proved, as ever, to be capable of everything a lifestyle or a climate can throw at it.
Climb Every Mountain
Sadly Wiltshire is not blessed with any mountains. A steepish incline is the best you can hope for. Fortunately, there’s a rutted, uphill farm track locally that I’m allowed to use for the purpose. It was very cold and the surface mud was hard. A regular motor would struggle to maintain traction. The Range Rover Sport however just wasn’t interested; at one point I suspected it was whistling tunelessly to itself whilst checking emails.
There are plenty of decent 4×4’s out there that would manage this minor test of course; it’s just that you get the sense that this tremendous vehicle could take on the world with it’s ‘All Terrain Progress Control’. In fact, the ability of this car and its various siblings has been amply demonstrated on TV car shows where the RR is really put through its paces. It has become legend.
Ford Every Stream
So back to the road then. The Range Rover Sport surprisingly is faster from a standstill than last week’s Jaguar XE R-Sport (here). The punchy 3.0L six-cylinder turbo-diesel sprints from 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds – no mean feat for car about the same size and weight as a moon of Jupiter.
Massive torque of 700Nm helps when overtaking to say the least. This great lump of power comes in progressively from 1,500rpm. Kick down and the brilliant, tried and tested eight-speed auto drops down a couple of gears: you’re off! It is deceptive, thanks to the size, just how quickly you reach the legal limit and way beyond.
There are more powerful engines available for this car but frankly I don’t see the point in this country: exciting though they may be, you’re just burning fuel. In this guise I averaged 27mpg – aided by an unobtrusive Stop/Start which also works in Sport mode – but I guess this could be improved upon in regular use and perhaps with more abstemious driving. Still pretty good for a big’un though.
We took our longest trip on a day of hard, lavish and perpetual rain. Everyone knows the ability of the Range Rover to wade in water and although there were no streams to ford there was a huge amount of standing water, especially on the muddy country lanes. Hitting a huge puddle at speed threw great sheets of water over the Sport. It made no difference. The car just laughs in the face of bad weather and passengers stay warm, snug and safe inside.
Follow Every Rainbow
This is a car that can traverse continents. You could, I would expect, drive to the end of the rainbow where lies the Crock of Gold. You’ll need it too because the Range Rover Sport as tested costs £80,000. That’s a lot and running costs are proportionate, although you do get your money’s worth, I reckon.
Amazingly, the car drives like a vehicle half the size thanks in part at least to a diet of nice light aluminium including the chassis. I think that was the biggest surprise for me. You would expect a sort of lumbering grandeur, lording it over lesser motors far below your eye line but it’s way better than that.
On motorways it is a fine cruiser but it’s when the road get narrow, twisty and rural that the Range Rover Sport really shows its driveability. This latest version is the best yet. The test car had the company’s Adaptive Dynamics and Dynamic Response systems, which combine to make driving a truly great experience. Mostly the Sport stayed in ‘Auto’ but on the open road in half-decent conditions, shifting to ‘Sport’ mode and using the rotary selector to pick ‘Dynamic’ from the choice of ‘Terrain Response’ options really got things going.
‘Dynamic’ is a programme that’s about driving rather than terrain. It optimises traction and handling to deliver a sporting drive with maximum feedback and responsiveness. The Range Rover Sport feels light and agile, easily manoeuvred via the heated steering wheel and simply slipped into small spaces thanks to many parking sensors and cameras.
‘Til You Find Your Dream
It is not just about hardcore performance however. Passengers are well served by the ride which is yet another Range Rover Sport plus point. The smart 21” wheels on our version are remarkably quiet, considering the tyre size, and do a good job of dismissing potholes and rough surfaces. All is calm within.
Although the Range Rover gets regularly refreshed you might consider that in its present iteration the interior might be a little dated. I wouldn’t disagree with that. Certainly the Sport is not as palatial as the regular Range Rover but that’s no great loss to me.
The driver-centric dashboard is clean and uncluttered and everything works as it should although the infotainment touchscreen and navigation is looking a bit long in the tooth. Really, it doesn’t matter, but when the next Range Rover model arrives in 2017/8 then I would expect a transformation in that department.
The leather upholstered seats are great as you would expect and multi-adjustable, natch. There’s seating for five plus an extra couple of rear seats that power-rise from the level boot floor. With these down the boot is like Kent’s Cavern, only better illuminated and with hooks. With the extra seats up there’s still usable space for the weekly shop and the like, easily accessed via the powered tailgate. There’s a twin sun roof too which helps to make the interior light and airy.
Every Day Of Your Life
There is no doubt that the Range Rover Sport, with its many delights, is one of the finest, most complete vehicles on the road today at any price. I prefer it to its more luxurious brethren and it really can be said to be the only car you would ever need.
Coming up fast on the rails though are the new Volvo XC90 and the new Audi Q7, both, in their way, competitors in the prestige SUV marketplace. As these cars are both coming my way very soon it will be interesting to compare their merits. Will these usurpers steal the Range Rover Sport’s thunder? We’ll see, but for now this great motor retains the crown. Geoff Maxted