First Drive: Range Rover Sport
A smaller Rangie is here and we’ve got our hands on it right here in India
What? What’s this? And when did this launch?
This is the new Range Rover Sport. Much smaller than the LR’s flagship Rangie, yet a capable, agile and an intuitive SUV. It was launched yesterday, and you can get one from any of the JLR showrooms.
So what’s new? Is it still based on the Discovery platform?
Almost everything is new. This is not one of those pseudo all-new cars. It is fully new, from head to toe. And this one doesn’t have a Discovery under its skin; it’s based on the Range Rover. And that means there’s a lot of aluminium involved, every bit of the body is made out of it. Enough to make it lighter by 420kg compared to the earlier model. With the new model, the wheelbase has been increased by 178mm.
What’s under the hood?
JLR is currently offering a choice of two engines in India for the new RR Sport. A 3-litre V6 diesel and a 5-litre V8 petrol. The diesel puts out 288 horses and 600Nm of spin and the gigantic V8 develops an insane 500bhp and 625Nm of pulling power. Both of which are mated to an eight-speed ZF transmission that sends power to all four wheels.
Does this one too have mental off-road credentials like most other Land Rovers?
Well, yes. You can go through anything that bigger Rangie or the Disco can go through. And we got a gist of it on our short test drive at an off-road track in Aamby Valley, Lonavala. It’s got everything to ensure it doesn’t leave your face red with embarrassment while you’re off-roading – adjustable ride height, Terrain Response System, the works. And if you’re willing to put in some more money, JLR will be glad to offer a two-speed transfer case with low-range option with a 50:50 power distribution. And not just that, it will also offer an 'Auto' setting for the Terrain Response System, wherein all you do is hit the Auto button and let the computers choose all the settings. The new RR Sport has a 33 degree approach and 31 degree departure angle and 850mm of wading depth. So it’s going to jostle itself through most situations.
All that is fine, but is it good on-road?
Yes, it is. Very. This one is not just a mountain goat that fears the sight of smooth tarmac. The ride is good, the steering is responsive and it’s sporty by SUV measures. It doesn’t make you feel its 2.1-tonne weight around corners and is pretty light on its feet.
How much is it going to set me back by?
With all that tech and the aluminium that’s gone in the making of this one, it’s not cheap. The smaller V6 diesel will demand Rs 1.09 crore and the V8 petrol asks for a full Rs 1.65 crore (prices ex-Mumbai, pre-octroi). Yes, that’s a lot of money. But you’re still saving quite a bit compared to the full-fledged Rangie.
If it is this good, why should I bother buying the bigger Range Rover?
For the space and the presence. The smaller Sport does most things as good as the Rangie and is actually sportier than the Rangie. But it is not going to fulfill your needs of one acre of space at the rear. Not that it’s bad, but certainly not as much as the Rangie. And it’s much smaller, so if you’re looking for undoubted road presence, you might want to put your money on the Rangie. If you’re not, just go buy the new Range Rover Sport.
(Pictures: Abhishek Shringare)