Long-term update - 13 August 2010
If you’ve been reading the magazine updates, you’ll know that we’ve had a few electrical problems with the Range Sport: going in to limp home mode, telling me the gearbox was broken, electric windows going a bit haywire to name but a few. It turned out that Land Rover had issued a recall to fix various electrical maladies problems so we packed it off to Marshall Land Rover in Peterborough just before the first service at 15,000 miles.
Unfortunately it’s still not right. It still occasionally won’t detect the smart key when I go to start the engine, the rear wiper motor and rear-seat DVD player have packed up and the touch screen multimedia/nav system freezes sporadically giving you no control over volume or radio station selection.
But of more concern is that fact that the whole car shut down when CAR’s designer Alex Tapley was driving home along the A14 one night. It was dark and raining, he was doing 70mph and the whole thing died: lights, wipers, engine – and presumably brake and steering assistance too.
It kicked back into life of its own accord almost straight away, but it hasn’t exactly filled me with confidence. At least Alex was on a straight, level road. But the thought of it happening again maybe on a steep downhill curve with my family on board is not something I want to dwell on for long.
At least the service didn’t flag up any problems – although that could be because Marshall didn’t spot the broken wiper. In fact I’m not sure what they did for their £360 because although I was promised a letter explaining what was involved, it never arrived.
For all my concerns though, the Range Sport continues to endear itself, and not just to me. I’ve lost count of the number of weekends I’ve handed it over to another CAR staffer moving house, going on holiday or just wanting a nice set of wheels to ferry visiting relatives around. That being the case, the electrical issues aren’t totally unwanted – if everyone in the office thinks it’s going to leave them stranded, they might stop asking for the keys.
By Chris Chilton
The Range Rover Sport appraised as pure family transport - 12 July 2010
Popular car this, at weekends. With a long family jaunt on the cards and the 5-series GT otherwise disposed, I needed something big to transport a young family of four to the south coast. Cue a begging email to keeper Chris Chilton and a set of keys to the Range Rover Sport.
I don't care what anyone else says about big SUVs, but as pure family transport they rule. The Range Sport simply swallows everything we throw at it: cots, buggies, bags galore. It all goes in the vast boot, and I love the split tailgate (see pictures). The pop-up window is great for dangling smaller items in or out, although the sheer height of the RRS means you end up opening the whole tailgate more of the time.
And in the countryside the raised gait of the Range Sport comes into its own. The view out is imperious, the wafty 3.0-litre turbodiesel a joy. The TDV6 is as adept along motorway blasts as it is on rural back roads and the whole caboodle does a fantastic job of transporting the whole family in comfort. It's a cinch to fit all the child seats and the only fly in the ointment is that we've left the cartridge for the built-in (optional) DVD player at home. D'oh!
By Tim Pollard
Merc E-class estate vs Range Rover Sport - 21 June 2010
Borrowed Chris Chilton’s Range Rover Sport at the weekend. Lovely as it was, I couldn’t help thinking that a Merc E350 CDI estate would do everything that the Sport is called on to do, but with better economy and emissions, better comfort and better performance. And yet the Range Rover is more S- than E-class when it comes to price.
By Ben Barry
Is the Range Rover Sport a guilty pleasure? - 19 May 2010
The vagaries of our long-term fleet diary being what they are, I only drove the Range Rover Sport for the first time the other day. And what a difference the 3.0-litre diesel upgrade has made to the recent 2010 model year facelift.
Where the old 2.7 V6 TD was sluggish and struggled to lug the best part of three tonnes of whopping SUV, the new 3.0 sails along. It’s not what you’d call fast (you need one of the hedonistic V8s for that; the Supercharged is spookily rapid) but it just feels well tuned with the rest of the car. Progress is serene, performance all you need and – as with Jaguar’s application of this engine – the six-speed auto transmission is incredibly well tuned, slushing along when you want to cruise yet holding on to the gears when pressing on. It’s refined and quiet, too.
I only drove the RRS one-up, but it’s easy to see how the car could bolt into family life. It’s been hard to prise assistant editor Chris Chilton away from his beloved Rangie, so smitten is he with its everyday credentials: the kids love the view out, the boot is big and the cabin full of practical touches. Mind you, for such a large footprint, there’s not as much cabin space as you might expect; when we measured them side-by-side my old Citroen C3 Picasso actually had more rear legroom than the Sport.
That slick drive, the easy waftability of the ZF ’box and the imperious driving position that greatly assists my rural commute with its lofty over-hedge view – all conspire to make the Range Rover Sport an endearing prospect. It’s easy to see why it’s the biggest selling Range Rover by far, shifting 45,000 models last year.
But it’s incredible how quickly the zeitgeist has changed. You almost find yourself in apologist mode when you drive a car like this. Especially if you’re driving solo, as most of my weekday driving tends to be – the RRS just feels so big and OTT for everyday driving to the office. Our average consumption of 24mpg and 243g/km of CO2 don’t help your conscience, either.
Family duties and genuine off-road ability clearly provide a whole new spectrum of talent, but the Range Rover Sport’s talents neatly encapsulate the challenges posed to the very future of the SUV. No wonder future derivatives of this model will soon adopt aluminium construction, hybrid power and – in this post-LRX age – perhaps even front-wheel drive. Make no mistake, the most iconic 4x4 of all is changing fast.
By Tim Pollard
The Range Rover Sport has an image problem. If you’re a footballer, you might not agree, but when I excitedly announced to a friend that a Sport would be replacing my Lexus IS-F, he summed it up thus: rich chav’s MPV.
The popular Range Sport has become a victim of its own success. The fact that so many are ordered in black doesn’t help the footballer image, which is why my facelifted car is clothed in one of Land Rover’s stylish new hues, Nara Bronze. Hopefully the classier paint and plain, rather than black-accented wheels will encourage those who malign the Sport to give it another chance because it’s a substantially better car than the one it replaces.
It’s quite possible that you’re struggling to tell it from the old one. I know I am. The key visual changes are the new (and slightly tacky) LED lights front and rear, a two-bar grille (the Disco gets one; the proper Rangie, three) and an aggressively redesigned front bumper whose painted sections droop at the ends giving it the look of a ’70s porn star’s ’tache.
But the big news is on the inside: a much more luxurious interior that’s more pleasing to the eye and the touch, and a couple of new engines, both already seen under the bonnet of the Jaguar XF. At the top of the tree there’s a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 good for 503bhp and 62mph in 6.2sec.
Of more interest to UK buyers is the other new motor though, the 3.0-diesel under the bonnet of my car, which delivers 240bhp and a massive 442lb ft of torque. It chops four whole seconds from the 0-60mph time of the anaemic 187bhp/325lb ft 2.7 V6 it effectively replaces, and is little slower than the TDV8 (which gets a power boost soon to reclaim its advantage).
The basic £44,895 SE is actually well equipped and comes with leather, Bluetooth, hard-disc-based nav and a Harmon Kardon hi fi but we stumped up the extra £5800 for the HSE. That meant an upgrade from 19- to 20-inch wheels, metallic paint, a rear-view camera, front parking sensors, digital radio and keyless entry that can usefully be locked by a button on each of the four doors.
We then had a bit of funny turn while holding a pen over the options list: active rear diff (£484), adaptive cruise (£1370), paddle shifters (£196), tyre pressure monitoring (£386), tow pack (£430), surround camera system (£875); and gratuitous luxuries: twin-screen DVD entertainment package (£2202), hybrid TV system (£498) and premium hi-fi (£978) pushed the final bill to £58,114. That’s a significant sum but only £1100 more than you’d pay for a frill-free TDV8.
We’ve only just met but so far I’ve been impressed with the torquey engine’s smoothness and sub-70mph punch and the size of the boot, but less enamoured with its slightly jittery ride. Come back later and see what we think once we’ve covered a few miles (and find out how many people have shouted obscenities at us in our honeymoon period).
By Chris Chilton