Refined and comfortable long-distance GT, more spacious than before, excellent off-road, better build quality
Touchscreen-obsessed cabin tricky to use, not as dynamic as Cayenne or X5, being mistaken for a footballer
What is it?
‘The most dynamic Range Rover’, according to Land Rover. We’ll be the judge of that But it’s all relative. This isn’t a truly road-focused SUV like a Porsche Cayenne. It’s a smaller Range Rover, with the option of seven seats, like the Discovery, with a slightly wieldier, more dynamic bent while retaining much of the stately upright-ness and off-road prowess of the full-fat Range Rover. The Sport looks meaner, has a nigh-on identical interior, and costs around £15,000 less than the big daddy Rangie. It’s had its territory eaten into significantly by the lower, more stylish Range Rover Velar, but recent improvements to the Sport have kept it competitive in a highly fought class.
The Sport uses the same aluminium construction as the full-fat Range Rover, meaning it’s far lighter than its predecessor: 400kg model-for-model, in fact. Though it’ll live on the 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.
You’ll spot the tweaked, facelifted 2018-onwards Range Rover Sport coming towards you with its squared-off LED lights and intakes, and inside it’s the buttonless, touchscreen-covered cockpit that gives away the latest version. You might not have heard it coming at all, given Land Rover also got round to introducing a plug-in hybrid version, titled P400e, in 2018, complete with a 400bhp output and claimed economy of 100mpg and 64g/km of cO2.
Meanwhile, the performance variant from Special Vehicle Operations – the bonkers SVR – has been treated to another 25bhp and a carbon fibre bonnet, plus optional orange paint, in so doing actually breaking the industry measurement device for vulgarity on four (enormous) wheels. If you’ve ever wondered what the lovechild of a Jaguar F-Type and a monster truck would look and drive like, wonder no more.
In the heartland of the range, there’s a choice of four, six and eight-cylinder engines, and while all versions get four-wheel drive, the off-road nowse of Terrain Response 2 and air suspension isn’t standard across the models. You’ll also need to shell out for air suspension – basically, you spec the car depending how much time, if any, it’ll spend off road, and how you’ll drive it on the road. Seven seats aren’t standard either, to gap the RRs from the ever-more luxurious Discovery.
The range starts with the HSE, and rises in prices and spec through HSE Dynamic (horrid bodykit, avoid) and Autobiography Dynamic to the SVR, complete with its certifiable 5.0-litre supercharged V8. It’s the first RRS to cost over £100k pre-options, but with a trigger-happy box-ticking hand, plenty of the lesser models will ascend to those financial heights too…
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Range Rover Sport has one of the broadest repertoires of any large SUV. It’s just about wieldy enough to be entertaining, convincingly luxurious, and its tech updates for 2018 add a welcome does of modernity to a car that has lagged behind its German rivals onslaught of gadgets in the past. You don’t need a V8 to sample it at its absolute best – though money no object, the TDV8 or SVR are fabulous answers to the ‘all the car you’ll ever need’ debate.
The sweet spot remains the SDV6, which will do us just fine, and once you’ve got yours, in a sensible, un-gawdy spec on handsome wheels and sans bodykit, don’t drive like a Premier League left back and you’ll do wonders for the reputation of Range Rover Sport drivers as you waft along.