The third-generation Range Rover Sport has arrived to challenge the best of the sporty SUV market
The Range Rover Sport is a hugely important car for Jaguar Land Rover and for the latest model the Coventry firm has made it faster, more economical and given it better technology than ever. The new Sport is available to order now from £79,125, with deliveries expected in late 2022.
Production for the new Range Rover Sport will take place alongside its Range Rover bigger brother in Solihull. We’ve already seen the new car showcasing its dynamic abilities by climbing up a dam spillway and on the hill climb at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, not to mention our ride along at the Goodwood circuit.
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Just like its Range Rover bigger brother, the Sport features familiar family styling cues, but with a new sense of minimalism and modernity. Jaguar Land Rover creative director Gerry McGovern is the man behind this modernist design philosophy. “It blends Range Rover luxury and capability with sporting character,” says McGovern. “It’s a redefinition of sporting luxury.”
At a glance, the new car is clearly still a Range Rover Sport, both in proportion and detail. Put the outgoing car next to it, however, and the differences are far more marked.
The new Sport is larger, especially inside, with a 75mm increase in wheelbase, yet it hides its bulk well with a short front overhang and a slightly longer overhang at the back – all supposedly to enhance a sense of movement.
The design team talks about three key lines to the car: the roofline slopes downwards towards a larger rear spoiler over the back window; the waistline is more angled – they call it an architectural horizon – with no window finishers and seamless, flush-fitting glass; then there’s the lower line that sweeps upwards, with all three converging at the back.
Flush-fitting door handles help to clean up the sides, while at the front the slimmest LED headlights fitted to a Land Rover (which can feature 1.3 million micromirrors inside) sit astride a slim, visor-like grille.
As with the Range Rover, the rear of the Sport is more different than before, taking its lead from the Velar and Evoque. The numberplate has been moved lower down to give a greater expanse of sheet metal at the back, intersected by another central visor-like strip featuring bold Range Rover lettering, flanked by new, flush surface LED rear lights.
Dynamic models get more prominent front and rear bumpers, and body-coloured side skirts with bigger alloys – up to 23 inches (which are lighter than the old 22s), while the standard wheel size is 20 inches.
It all looks very premium, apart from a couple of minor details: the rear camera hanging down just above the number plate is not exactly a minimalist solution and buyers might think the traditional Sport side blades ahead of the front doors look a little cheap.
Interior design and on-board technology
The interior, according to McGovern, is “Closer than ever in terms of luxury to the Range Rover” – and it looks it. Again, minimalism is hard at work with the thick leather-clad horizontal line broken by a 13.1-inch infotainment screen that gently curves around the dashboard and flows up from a higher centre console that cocoons the driver and front passenger.
Thankfully, there are separate controls for the heating, ventilation and driving modes, with plenty of storage spaces hidden and some that are more obvious. Of course, there’s a 13.7-inch digital dash display, too, sitting behind a smaller-diameter steering wheel.
The seating position is 20mm lower than before, while there’s more shape to the rear seats, 31mm more legroom and 55 litres more luggage space than before, complete with new lighting to brighten even the darkest corners of the boot.
There’s a strong sustainability offering, too, although much of that may well be on the options list when final specifications are revealed. You can have luxury PU (don’t call it Polyurethane) Ultrafabrics on the seats, while ‘marine plastics’ are used to make the floor mats. Even the speakers for the Meridian audio system can be covered in textiles, while the audio system is also used for noise cancelling or to enhance powertrain sound responses with additional speakers in the headrests.
That big touchscreen features Land Rover’s Pivi Pro tech with Alexa built in, plus wireless smartphone connectivity and charging. Software-over-the-air updates feature as part of the infotainment and electrical systems, too.
Engines and performance
There are arguably bigger changes under the skin of the new Range Rover Sport, which – like its bigger brother – sits on JLR’s new MLA-Flex platform.
That means, among other things, the first-ever all-electric Range Rover Sport, although that won’t come until 2024. If you want electrification before then, two plug-in hybrid versions, with up to 503bhp and 700Nm of torque, combine a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine and 38.2kWh battery to give a best 0-60mph times of 5.4 seconds and an all-electric range of up to 70 miles.
There will also be one petrol and two diesel six-cylinder options, both featuring 48v mild-hybrid tech, plus a 4.4-litre V8 with 523bhp and a 0-60mph time of just 4.3 seconds.
We’ve spotted the faster Range Rover Sport SVR testing already, which is set to introduce a more aggressive look. The SVR will also offer more power, most likely the 616bhp V8 from the BMW X5 M Competition. We expect pricing will also rise to around £100,000.
According to Jaguar Land Rover’s Vehicle Programmes Director, Nick Collins, the new MLA platform is “Very stiff – it makes the car more sporty and more connected. We’ve aimed for a consistent ride – you’ll know about the road surface, but you won’t be troubled by it.”
Dynamic Air Suspension features twin air chambers to reduce pitch and roll, while a Stormer handling pack adds an electronic active differential with torque vectoring by braking and four-wheel steering, which we’ve already experienced in the new Range Rover to stunning effect – it gives the big SUV a sense of poise it has never had before and handily reduces the turning circle to less than 11m in the Sport, 2m less than before.
The new Dynamic Mode within the All-Terrain Response system offers bespoke steering, throttle and sound settings, while there’s plenty of off-road ability, too, with adaptive cruise control available off-road as well as on, plus a maximum wading depth of 900mm.
Initially, the new Range Rover Sport will be available in SE and Autobiography spec, with Dynamic options on top, too. And as is the current trend, an all-singing and all-dancing First Edition model will be available for the first year. Prices rise over the old model, starting from £79,125 – around £20,000 less than its bigger, posher brother.
Click here for our list of the best luxury SUVs on sale right now…
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