420,000 units of the Range Rover Sport have been sold to the world since its launch in 2005. India may not have had played any part for it to get to this position, but with its Evoque-inspired styling that's mesmerizing more and more Indians by the day, the 2014 Range Rover Sport, Land Rover's on-road dynamics flagship, is about to make a splash when it comes to India this Diwali.
Last week, Land Rover invited IndianAutosBlog.com to Cheltenham, UK, to drive the 2014 Range Rover Sport. And here's what it feels like.
2014 Range Rover Sport design
A 3D printer would output a Range Rover Sport if diagrams of the Range Rover and the Evoque were fed into it. Almost a perfect balance of aggression and grace, the new Range Rover Sport is not only about striking looks. Its wheelbase has been stretched by 178mm, the height has decreased by 149mm and the overall length is about 62mm longer compared to the old model. The dimensional changes have improved the practical aspect of the car which we'll come to later in this review.
The lower and longer dimensions have led to a more dynamic stance. The front-end is formed by the twin-slat grille from the Evoque complimented well by lamps from the Range Rover. The bonnet corners are raised and the windscreen rake angle is shallower compared to the old model.
Moving to the side, the windows, reminiscent of the Evoque, converge to an angled rear screen. If you look at the stop light and the compressed rear windscreen, you would find more evidence of the Sport's stylists borrowing inspiration from the Victoria Beckham of SUVs!
The Autobiography edition we drove had a gloss black radiator grille and red brake calipers that add more flair to the looks.
2014 Range Rover Sport interior
Moving indoors, the Sport's dashboard doesn't have as many buttons as the Range Rover, which some would argue makes it friendlier and inviting to operate. The pillars and roof are lined in felt while the rest of the cabin is lavished with Alcantara and piano black wood.
The features list is a bit vast, so we aren't getting into every detail. What we found useful during days of normal driving and off-roading are adaptive cruise control, an improved Terrain selection program Land Rover Terrain Response 2 and a 1700 Watt, 23-speaker Meridian audio system.
The only real drawback in the interior is the outdated graphics and icons on Land Rover's infotainment system.
[Left - Dual zone auto climate control dedicated to rear passengers channels air through vents on the pillars too; Right - Rear seat passenger can enjoy his drink while being able to catchup on the news through headrest-mounted screens]
The system is badly in need of an upgrade as the display is no better than some low-end smartphones in the market.
2014 Range Rover Sport chassis
The Sport is based on Range Rover's new aluminium platform and is built with polymer-based parts which explains the 420kg weight loss. The agile and responsive driving character is largely based on this giant leap. For example the 292PS V6 diesel picked for India does 0-100kph in 6.8 seconds, a full two seconds quicker than the old Sport.
The Sport's built to play the role of an on-road flagship for Land Rover and hence its ride is firmer than the Range Rover. This is not to say its spine-snapping over bad rides, its still comfortable but perhaps not as plush.
Land Rover says that the new Sport is 30% better in handling compared to the old one. Two of the technologies highlighted that caused this improvement are the Torque Vectors and Active Roll Control. The adaptive air-suspension is set up very well, it responds to undulations in a lightning-fast manner, while the previously mentioned gadgets help grip the corner even when you are taking it at 70mph (110kph).
2014 Range Rover Sport performance
Speaking of performance, the Range Rover Sport diesel is powered by a 3-liter V6 diesel that produces 292 PS of power and 600 Nm of torque. The gasoline variant is a 5-liter V8 Supercharged delivering 510PS and 625 Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed transmission and transfer power through a permanent 4WD system.
Finding the right gear never seemed to be a problem as neither the paddle shifter nor the gear lever stuttered even once during our two day outing through the English countryside.
The supercharged engine, with a larger displacement, had a loud and sensational sound track. The diesel sounded a bit softer and uniquely is the quieter of the two variants in most driving conditions!
2014 Range Rover Sport features
Talking about special safety features, the Sport comes with blind spot assistance, a surround view camera system of which you can enlarge two angles at the same time and the industry first water wading depth indicator that warns drivers if the vehicle is submerged under water of over 900mm.
The Range Rover Sport can seat five tall adults and is available with an option pair of jump seats. The boot space stands at 784 liters, and enlarges to 1,761 liters when they are folded.
2014 Range Rover Sport off-road
All these features and figures take a backseat when you take the Range Rover off-road. Part of the Land Rover Experience were off-road courses designed to bring forth the vehicle's capabilities in a forest. Ascending and descending steep grades, crossing a river or pulling through a slushy patch of surface are like a piece of cake to the Sport.
And the part that is fascinating is through all that mud, dirt, sand, water and stones, you can tweak the bass level of the audio system, adjust the speed of the seat blower, switch to the graphic that shows the articulation of the axles or study the depth of the water you are wading.
2014 Range Rover Sport verdict
The Range Rover is without doubt the best SUV I've driven in a very long time. It strikes a very good balance between sportiness and ride comfort while driving through a dense forest with no trouble at all. I don't know if there's another SUV on the market today that can do all of this and still look like a fashion accessory.
If you are a petrolhead, I believe you should add experiencing the Range Rover Sport to your bucket list.
We'd like to thank Land Rover for providing us with images of the car in motion and from the off-roading trails.