It boasts almost the cachet and allure of the bigger Range Rover Vogue, yet is derived from the more attainable Discovery 3 mechanicals. This keeps prices realistic – and demand high.
Beefy profit margins on this hit model mean the firm’s been able to answer some of the criticisms of the original one, launched back in 2005. The outside style hasn’t changed much – a new grille here, touched-up bit of plastic there, but not much else – however the interior has been completely made over.
Customers, it seemed, didn’t like the plasticky look of the Range Rover Sport. Too Discovery 3 derived, they said. They weren’t wrong, either; it was a sharp contrast to the brilliance of the big Vogue’s cockpit. So, for 2010, Land Rover’s completely junked that, fitting something much more up to scratch.
The dashboard is considerably more stylish, the button count has been reduced and it’s been given a cockpit-style look all of its own. Sitting in it, within deep seats, elbow resting on a tall centre console, the cocooned feel is not unlike that offered in a Bentley Continental GT – despite the car’s outward appearance.
It’s also of far higher quality than before, with detailing like that on posh mobile phones. The hi-res centre display screen is cool, and the world’s your buyers’ oyster when it comes to options choices. They’re more than happy to indulge too, it seems; the many new bespoke options offered with the 2010 version should make car dealers even happier.
Under the bonnet are new engines, alongside the familiar (and top-selling) 2.7-litre diesel. There’s a brilliant new 3.0-litre diesel, which will take the 2.7’s crown as best seller. But there is also a mighty 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged version.
Because, y’know, 5.0-litres alone isn’t enough. No, you of course need to strap on a supercharger, too. Meaning that Bentley feel continues out on the road. It has 510bhp plus a full 625Nm of torque available at almost any engine speed.
Sure, Land Rover’s fitted steering shift paddles to the six-speed auto for the first time in its history – but they’re not really needed. This thing flies whenever you want it to, no matter what the gear.
Despite being big, heavy, high off the ground and able to go further off road than any rival, the Range Rover Sport SC also manages to dip below six seconds to 60mph. It will go from 0-100mph-0 again in 16 seconds, ably slowed down by a monstrous set of Brembos.
Performance is staggering, yet also extremely cultured and manageable. No matter how hard to believe this sounds…
It corners, too. Land Rover has bolted on the CATS-style suspension systems used in the same Jaguar XKR it nicked the engine from, giving this beastie unlikely finesse and ability. It proves anyone who says a big off-roader cannot be sporty wrong. Sharp steering, crisp handling, tight body control; honestly, what does it think it is? Some sort of sportscar?
Uh, indeed it does. That’s why it’s called Range Rover Sport. The new diesel engine ticks the punchy eco box that dealers will make most hay from, but the new Supercharged model remains the one their most premium customers will be bling-jewellery-jangling towards.
From an already high base, it’s now even better. Given how the old one sold despite its flaws, it seems Land Rover dealers could about to get their rewards for seeing through some of the hardest times on record. Here’s hoping.
by Richard Aucock
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