A sporty Range Rover sounds like real fun...
Photos: Azfar Hashim
If you have about $500k to spend on a brand new car these days, your choices are out of this world; you could get for yourself a sports car, high-performance sedan or even luxury SUV.
So you decide to settle for a luxury SUV as you (a) have an image to uphold and (b) the family obligations. What’s in there for you to choose from then? Well there is Audi’s Q7, then the - take a deep breath - X6/ X6 M50d/ new X5/ X5 M50d from BMW, also Mercedes-Benz’s G350 CDI and GL350, and of course last but not least, Porsche’s Cayenne.
Hmm… I think I forgot something else.
Oh yes - the Range Rover. Which is rather cool seeing how it’s not mainstream. Well I don’t know about you, but I always find a Range Rover cool. Intimidating even.
And the newest Range Rover Sport definitely looks handsome, gallant even, when you see it in the flesh; it still retains the proportions of the typical Land Rover, but it looks rather bold this time around. What with the rather attention-grabbing headlamps that houses the world’s most comprehensive LED daytime-running light, piano-black grill that looks sharp enough to dice anything in it’s path and a bumper that is so detailed, even sculptor Anish Kapoor himself would give two thumbs up.
The attention to details does not just end there: directly behind the front foglamps is the pair of intercoolers; cool (no pun intended). Speaking of which, this is the first time ever in the history of Singapore I have to highlight how small the LTA-compliant front license plates are for the car; perhaps they should install signboards there instead.
That rear looks the most interesting when compared to the German offerings. You just know so much effort was put into the design; lamps that are out of this world, a classy - not offensive - spoiler and that highly detailed bumper that includes skid plates that may come in useful if you’re the sort who goes off the beaten path quite often. Surely, tail-gaters would steer clear.
If a plush, luxurious interior is what you are looking for, the Range Rover Sport definitely ticks that box. Yes, the build quality is unquestionable and all controls are designed and placed around the driver; even the displays are idiot-proof. On top of that, you can feel the English opulence by merely touching all the leather wrapping the dashboard, door panels and chairs too; all high quality stuff there. However, you cannot escape the fact that it shares a list of parts with a Jaguar; the multimedia screen, air-con control and gear-shifter, for example. Not that it’s a bad thing, but when you are paying premium, you do expect some sort of differentiation: imagine going to a gathering and as you talk about your Range Rover Sport with all your pride, a party pooper goes, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that in a Jaguar too”. Know what I mean?
The steering wheel should thrill all gamers out there: those with Playstations should be at home behind the wheel of the Range Rover Sport. Oh, and it feels good in your palm too. The sporty seats for the driver and front passenger are both huggable and provide ample support, with the rear being highly practical for three adults; head, shoulder and leg rooms are all in abundance here. The boot is usefully huge too; it’s like a vortex, with the ability to just suck in all your stuff without a hitch.
Under the bonnet lies a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 powerplant, the similar unit extensively used by Jaguar. Paired to an 8-speed, ZF supplied ‘box, the Range Rover Sport is capable of churning out a respectable 335 bhp and also 450 Nm of torque. For the curious, a petrol equivalent X5 (xDrive35i) whips out 305 bhp and 400 Nm, the Q7 333 bhp and 440 Nm while the Cayenne 300 bhp and 400 Nm.
It’s not Ferrari fast, but the Range Rover Sport still gets up to speed rather rapidly for an SUV it’s size. You would assume it needs a year - 7.2 seconds, actually - to reach 100 km/h considering the portly 2.1-ton kerb weight and four-wheel drive system; however, it doesn’t seem fazed by those two factors. At all.
On the road, the Range Rover Sport is properly comfortable, despite the tighter set-up compared to the ‘regular’ Range Rover. Every road undulations are absorbed with aplomb, bumps and potholes pose no effect and best of all, you can actually take sweeping corners slightly faster than usual without having to feel wary of the oh-crap-I-think-it-is-going-to-topple effect. That said, steering weight and feel could still be improved upon. A highlight here is how well the cabin is suppressed against any wind, tyre and road noise. To hear the V6 growl though, you have to push the engine past 4,000 rpm.
The Range Rover Sport comes with air-suspension, so that means off-road capability is not an issue at all. Raise it up and you can easily climb kerbs or sand mounts, leaving the rest of the world behind. Which also encourages you to be playful on gravel and grassland (#justsaying). We tried, so we know. And the thing is, the Germans do not give you the same amount of assurance to do such antics…
So, in a market like ours where luxury SUVs are snapped up like hot cakes, particularly German ones, the Range Rover Sport may seem a little lost. However, it offers quite a lot of car and style for that money. Settling for a Range Rover Sport simply means you dare to be different and you care about class. The bonus? You can really go off road.
The Brits are here to stay and push on…