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Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review

Published:18 August 2009

Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

Range Rover Sport

If you’re a regular CAR Online visitor, you may already have read Ben Pulman’s report on the newly revised Range Rover Sport TDV6. So I’ll keep the news about the Sport’s general upgrades brief and concentrate on the headline news about this model: its new 5.0-litre supercharged V8. Thought that might prick up your ears.

Does this new supercharged Range Rover Sport have the engine from the XFR?

Yes, it’s pretty much what powers the Jaguar XFR to such great effect, and it deploys the same 503bhp here too. But, as you might expect, it’s been optimised somewhat for this 4x4 application, with a deeper sump guard, thorough water-proofing and a torque curve to suit some hefty off-roading.

You can tell it apart from the old car by the revised two-bar grille, slimmer headlamps and new bumpers. Get inside and you’ll spot the new dash and doortrims. And if you’re still in doubt, give that right pedal a shove.

Quick then, is it?

You could say that. Think in terms of swift (really swift) estate cars and it’s mighty impressive. For a car that weighs 2.6 tonnes it’s nigh-on phenomenal, with visceral urge accompanied by a refined growl from under the bonnet. But only four stars? Well, to be honest, I thought it might be quicker still, but it’s given all its best by 5000rpm, after which the thrust tails off and the snarl gives way to the heavy-breathing supercharger. It’s also a little hesitant from standstill, as though the torque convertor has to spool up before slinging you down the road.

But most of the time you’re spoiled with more pace than you’ll ever need and, if used in ‘sport’ mode, the auto-box usually lands in the right ratio and is swift to kickdown. Want more control? Treat yourself to the paddleshift for a gratifyingly immediate response, but beware: it’ll expect you to carry on with the work, and won’t shift up for you at the red line.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Range Rover Sport 5.0 Superchaged first drive

 

   

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Does it handle?

Much better than any car this tall or heavy has a right to. Land Rover has been hard at work lowering the car’s roll centre and painstakingly tweaking springs, dampers, diffs, tyres and software settings. The adaptive damping is related to Jaguar’s but much modified to cope with the Sport’s ludicrously articulated wheel travel.

Blast down a twisting, undulating B-road and you’ll be astonished by how planted and secure the Sport feels. The steering is responsive once you’ve passed a little slack around TDC, and body control is excellent.

But it’s not just about grip and iron damping. There’s also poise, even grace through corners, and a satisfying balance as you feel weight and control transfer to the rear wheels as you punch out of a bend.

It even rides well, more firmly than the newly revised Discovery 4 it shares so much hardware with, but still with tautness, compliance and great comfort. Only low-speed lumps and occasional shudders over corrugated surfaces get anywhere close to disturbing otherwise serene stability.

Land Rover purists scoff at the Sport. Should they?

If you’re talking about the chaps who eschew overhead camshafts (never mind air-con and proper trim), leave them to their manual diff locks and freewheel hubs. The Sport is incredible off-road, even on 20-inch rims and low-profile tyres. We scaled grassy hills, forded a river (there was no actual ford) and clambered over rocks. Big ones. And not on some artificially engineered ten-minute assault course either, but across entire swathes of wildest (and wettest) Scotland. Yes, the Range Sport is the Landie for lubbers, but by god it’s a Landie through and through.

Sounds incredible. Any downsides?

The usual green guilt. This thing pumps out 348g/km of CO2, and our test car never got close to the promised 18.9mpg (14-15mpg, more like it). And it’s damn heavy without the excuse of being anything other than a five-seater. Think of it as a sort of sporty Discovery coupe, and ask yourself if the world needs such a device. Answer? No. Doesn’t stop you wanting one though.

Verdict

It doesn’t look much different but it drives even better. Land Rover’s engineers have been hard at work on the detail stuff, refining all the components you’d probably never see in a lifetime of ownership. Until they crack lightweight construction or manage such flabbergasting power from rubber bands or something, it’ll never be a car any right-thinking individual would feel comfortable owning. But it’s an absolute belter to drive – on road, up mountain, through river – all the same.

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Specs

Price when new: £61,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4998cc 32v supercharged V8, 503bhp @ 6000-6500rpm, 461lb ft @ 2500-5500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 5.9sec 0-62mph, 140mph, 18.9mpg, 348g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2590kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4783/1932/1784

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  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
  • Range Rover Sport 5.0 Supercharged (2009) review
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