Land Rover is in the final stages of road-testing a halo performance model for the Range Rover Sport line-up, thought to be badged Range Rover Sport RS.
This UK-photographed test car’s camouflage is wrapped around a new styling pack, plus there are other telltale clues that we’re looking and the fastest Rangie yet.
What’s the predicted spec of the new Range Rover Sport RS?
Under the bonnet, it’s thought the hottest Range Rover Sport will adopt the engine from its ‘R-S’ namesakes at sister brand Jaguar. So, like the Jaguar XFR-S and XKR-S, power from the regular Range Sport’s supercharged 5.0-litre V8 will be raised from 501bhp to 542bhp. Torque in the uprated engine climbs by 41lb ft to 502lb ft.
What has changed cosmetically for this uprated Range Sport RS?
There’s a new front bumper, with wider air intakes and ‘nostrils’ inset into the lower section. The grille itself has switched to a crosshatched ‘chickenwire’ design, and the edges of the splitter appear to have been flared, and while the jury’s out on whether this will improve high-speed aerodynamics, there’s no doubt they give the car a more aggressive appearance.
The side profile reveals a new design of 20in alloy wheel. Behind those, we can see Brembo-branded, red-painted monobloc brake calipers. Like the recently revealed Jaguar F-type R, it’s possible Land Rover could offer its first-ever carbon-ceramic brake option for the Range Rover Sport RS, to compete with the composite systems offered by Porsche, BMW and Audi.
At the back, the purported RS has four sports tailpipes, and a revised rear bumper section, which features a diffuser-like cutout, as seen on the XFR-S super-saloon.
Why does Land Rover need an even more powerful Range Rover Sport?
Brawny though the 503bhp V8 version is, it’s totally outpunched by its German rivals. Mercedes’ ML63 AMG has 525bhp, while the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S musters 542bhp.
Even the old BMW X5 M and X6 M were pokier than the new aluminium Range Sport, with their 547bhp twin-turbo V8s. The new M Division SUVs are thought to develop 565bhp – and with new 550bhp-plus super-SUVs on the way from Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Audi, Land Rover needs to fight back in the American and Middle Eastern markets, were power is king and fuel prices an afterthought.
How much will this new super-Range cost?
The RS is likely to be the second priciest Land Rover vehicle on sale, behind the new Range Rover long-wheelbase. A regular supercharged V8 Sport will set you back £81,550 – apply a Jaguar-sized £15k premium for the RS-engined model and the Range-Rocket could cost more than £95,000.
That’s considerably more than a BMW X5 M, but £10,000 cheaper than a Cayenne Turbo S, which comes in at £107,784. We’ll see if Land Rover’s bullish strategy pays off in 2014.