Land Rover Range Rover Sport 5.0 P575 S/C SVR Carbon Edition 5dr Auto
How do you make a Range Rover Sport properly earn its extra boot lid badge? Well, hiring the services of chassis expert Matt Becker – formerly of Lotus and Aston Martin – certainly helps. He arrived at Jaguar Land Rover at the start of 2022, walking through the door right as the Range Rover Sport was entering the final stages of its development. And he brought a heap of SUV nous from making the Aston DBX handle so well.
While the Sport’s hardware was fixed by this point, Becker says there’s a heck of a lot of work that can be done with software tweaks. Thus, he set about better separating the latest generations of full-fat Range Rover and Sport to make sure the pair offered different character traits.
He’s had some success too. This is a less ponderous car than its sibling, one with sharper, heavier steering responses and more resolve (and firmness) in its suspension. But it’s only really by driving them back-to-back that you’ll notice. Otherwise, the Range Rover Sport resolutely sits at the plusher, comfier end of the performance SUV spectrum, especially in light of the wealth of rivals that have entered the market since the original launched in the mid Noughties.
Drive with too much vim and the front wants to scrub wide in corners, and while the rear-axle steering helps it scythe through tight bends – artificially shortening the Sport’s wheelbase – the car never really shrugs off its feeling of mass. Which isn’t to say it’s slow.
The entry D300 diesel is just about quick enough to feel interesting, and no more, but it’s not a hugely expensive upgrade to the more potent P400 petrol if a bit more pace is what you’re after. In fact, with its 395bhp in-line 6cyl engine, the latter offers a bit of a sweet spot in the range. It certainly feels a touch more in keeping with world affairs than the P530 and its range-topping, twin-turbo V8, however ‘right’ eight cylinders can’t help but feel in the familiar silhouette of a Range Rover body.
While it may not be as fashionable as it once was – and quite clearly, Land Rover has thrown heaps of R&D money at the plug-in hybrid petrols this time around - there is still a lot to be said for ye olde diesel Range Rover Sport. Actually, we’re being unfair, because the diesels are as state-of-the-art as they come, with 48-volt ‘mild hybrid’ boost to keep things spritely when the turbo hasn’t quite woken up yet. We’ve been largely impressed by the new generation of straight-six engines replacing the old JLR V6 warhorses, and the same goes for the mid-range D350. Cliché klaxon, but boy does this engine and this car feel like a match made in heaven.
There’s a sense of completeness to the Range Rover Sport equipped with the D350 motor: a 550 miles-per-tank aura of unflappability that, just maybe, the hybrids don’t quite offer yet. Not for long-distances, anyway. That’s the key here: choose your RRS with careful consideration for how you’re going to use it.
Yes. So too if you inhabit a part of the world where charging infrastructure isn’t as 21st Century as you’d hope, then Land Rover’s decision to invest in new diesel engines is totally vindicated here. We got over 32mpg across a 500-mile test including plenty of motorway cruising and A-road striding. The engine’s distant hum is just as muted as it is in the similarly excellent Range Rover, leading us to wonder slightly why you’d need to upgrade to the big lad, frankly.
With identical claimed fuel economy (36.7mpg) and CO2 (202g/km) for the D350, three quarters of a second saved going from 0-62mph and a premium of less than £5k, we’d certainly recommend the upgrade from the lowlier diesel.
Flaws? Well, what played on our minds takes us back to that notion of whether or not this car is indeed a ‘Sport’. The D350 is a sensational big comfy GT car, but its stopping distances are frankly a bit alarming, and though it’s swift and torquey, a Cayenne is more remarkable to drive if you want that big hot hatch experience.
Plugging in routinely at home and the office, with lots of urban mileage likely every week, you mean? Then it’s the PHEV for you (31.8kWh, twice the size of the Cayenne’s battery) to make a genuine difference to how you use the car. The integration is slick, and while it lacks some of the features that Mercedes now offers in its hybrids (regen braking for instance), this feels a well developed version. It’s quick enough in e-mode and manages both powertrains fluently. But you’ll have to really use electric to get the best from it. Over the course of a week of mostly town-bound weekday trips, plus a haul to Wales at the weekend, we averaged 33mpg. But when we factored in the extra cost of 105kWh of electricity as well as fuel, the average fell to 25mpg…
Despite what we've said above, probably either plug-in-hybrid option. We’ve driven the PHEV in both P440e and gutsier P510e guise, and while around a second slower than the V8 to 62mph (hitting the benchmark in 5.4 seconds), both are more than brisk enough in real-world driving and the novelty of slinking around cities silently in something so grand might never wear off. Just watch out for errant pedestrians blithely wandering out in front of you…
It's the most refined car in an already cultured range. EV mode also works wonderfully off-road, for what it’s worth. How many hundred-grand SUVs ever scurry over rocks or through ravines is up for debate, but instant torque delivered amidst library-quiet makes for a very satisfying way to go green-laning. If that’s your thing.
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