Land Rover has revised its most road-focussed SUV ever, the Range Rover Sport. There’s now new petrol and diesel engines (shared with the new Discovery 4, XF and XJ), a thoroughly revised interior, and a more modern exterior to match the look of the recently facelifted Range Rover proper. Read on to find out exactly how the new £50,695 2010 Range Rover Sport TDV6 drives.
And if I cough up £50,695 for a new Range Rover Sport what exactly do I get?
Quite a lot in HSE spec. There’s climate control, cruise control, bi-xenon lights, 20-inch wheels, metallic paint, parking sensors and a rear-view camera, keyless entry and start, leather seats (deep breath), plus sat-nav and a nine-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, DAB tuner, MP3 connection and Bluetooth.
That’s not to mention all the off-road gear, which includes air suspension, a low-ratio ‘box, hill descent control and Land Rover’s Terrain Response dial that lets you tweak all the electronic controls to suit the, err, terrain. So forget shifting levers like you do in a Defender – instead you press a button or twist a dial and the Range Sport will clamber up, over or through pretty much any landscape you put in front of it. And all on 20-inch road rubber.
Talk me though these exterior tweaks.
Land Rover is giving the Range Rover family a new hierarchy, so the original Rangie has a three-bar front grille, three bars in the side vents side and triple-strake front and rear indicators. The Sport has two of each of these, which leads you to presume the forthcoming LRX must make do with just one…
The lights are now LEDs front and rear, with a smoked-effect finish at the back and a subtle circle of daytime running lights on the nose. There’s also a new front bumper, new exhausts, and although the tweaks sound fairly restrained, they all combine to make the 2010 Range Sport look lower and sleeker.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Range Rover Sport first drive
Is the new Range Rover Sport more thoroughly revised inside than out?
Yes. The exterior tweaks are fairly minor, but the interior changes are pretty extensive. The black plastics have gone so it’s no longer quite so dark and sombre, and there’s 50% fewer buttons because the multimedia system is now controlled via an intuitive touch-screen. It’s effectively the same as you’ll find in an XF, but the graphics have been updated and the sat-nav now runs from a hard disk so it’s much slicker and smoother. And we welcome the four shortcut buttons on the dash, so you needn’t return to the homepage each time you want to navigate through the sub-menus.
The only downside is that the Range Sport still isn’t huge. There’s space for five inside, but the upright dash architecture eats into front passenger knee room (and there’s two tiny gloveboxes rather than a single large one), and rear seat and boot space is only adequate.
It doesn’t feel that big when you’re driving it though. Yes, it’s huge compared to everything else, but the slab sides mean it’s actually easy to place, the big door mirrors give great rear visibility, and the new Surround Camera system (with five external digital feeds) lets you see exactly how close you’re getting to the little cars in front.
What about these new engines?
If you live in America or the Middle East then you’ll be interested in the direct-injection 5.0-litre V8, which comes with or without a supercharger. Much more real world are the oil-burning engines: there’s the unchanged 3.6-litre TDV8 and a new 3.0-litre twin-turbo TDV6 which replaces the old 2.7-litre single-turbo.
Co-developed with Jaguar, it produces 237bhp/443lb ft in the Range Sport, compared to 237bhp/368lb ft or 271bhp/443lb ft in the XF. That means useful 54bhp and 118lb ft increases over the outgoing 2.7, and enough to slash the 0-60mph sprint down from 11.9 to 8.8 seconds.
The fuel consumption figures are slightly better too – 30.7mpg combined and 25.2mpg around town versus 28.3 and 21.6 – but what you really notice is the refinement. The engine is smoother and more refined across the entire rev range, so there’s not a constant agricultural racket accompanying you wherever you go. It cruises quietly and serenely at 80mph, with only a slight whistle from big door mirrors.
Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are also available, and while they’re not crucial for banging up-changes through the six-speed ZF ‘box, it’s a boon to be able to swap down a couple of cogs for some welcome engine braking. Remember, despite some big and fade-free brakes, this thing does weigh 2.5-tonnes.
It also rolls less, rides better, and the steering is much sharper – without the slight wooliness that afflicted the old Range Sport and Disco – yet there is also enough slack so it won’t break you finger off when you’re tackling a dry rocky riverbed.
Cleaner, more economical and yet more powerful, the new 3.0-litre diesel addresses all the shortcomings of the old 2.7-litre. And beyond that it looks sharper and sleeker, is much nicer inside and better to drive. It’s all the car you’ll ever need.
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