What is it?
The performance-focused version of Land Rover’s all-new posh SUV, available for the first time with the option of seven seats. The Sport uses the same aluminium construction as the full-fat Range Rover, meaning it’s far lighter than its predecessor: around 400kg model-for-model, in fact. Though predictably ballistic on road, the Sport can do the business off tarmac as well: it’ll wade through 85cm of water, and boasts far greater axle articulation and wheel travel than the Audi Q7.
There are two diesel options – the potent 292bhp SDV6 and an interesting new diesel hybrid – alongside a deranged 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 that makes 510bhp and will propel the RRS to 60mph in five seconds flat. All engines use an eight-speed auto. Prices start at £59,995 for the SDV6 and rise beyond £80,000 for the supercharged monster.
For a huge, heavy seven-seat SUV, the composure with which the RRS goes down a twisty road is nothing short of baffling. In the old Sport, you always felt you were fighting the car’s sheer mass, but not now. In dynamic mode, there’s not a whisper of roll nor suggestion of understeer. There’s lots of clever stuff here: subtle braking of the inside wheel, centre and rear differentials, and an adaptive dynamic system that monitors and responds to its sensor readings 500 times per second. But the cleverest bit of all is that you don’t feel all the cleverness doing its stuff, only relentless traction and a frenzied desire to deposit all its power on the road. Take it easy, however, and the Sport proves to be a fabulous long-distance loper, quiet and refined even at autobahn speeds.
On the inside
The Sport’s cabin feels very nearly as plush and bespoke as that of the Range Rover itself, with masses of lovely leather and all the gadgetry you could realistically require. The only slight disappointment is the nav and infotainment systems, which aren’t quite so advanced as the latest from BMW and Audi. Land Rover needs to up its game here.
Though there’s masses of space on board, the optional third-row of seats remain strictly for ‘occasional’ use. That the rooflining is shaped to scrape out a fraction extra headroom is telling – the Discovery remains Land Rover’s MPV.
Despite the Sport’s impressive diet strategy, this is still a big, bluff SUV, so don’t expect Prius-rivalling fuel economy. The V8 petrol officially returns 22.1mpg, but you’ll be lucky to drag it out of the mid-teens. The diesels are far more frugal (the new hybrid claims 44mpg, unheard of in Range Rover circles) but you can still expect 20s rather than 30s if you drive enthusiastically.