2014 Range Rover Sport Review

They said it’ll go anywhere, so we took it everywhere, even through the middle of an aeroplane!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Range Rover Sport

During lunch at the end of Land Rover’s international press launch of the all-new 2014 Range Rover Sport in the UK, the chap from Land Rover next to me said: ‘so in the past day and half, you’ve driven on motorways, in a restricted military test zone, blasted through a rally stage gravel track, taken in fast and tight B-roads, negotiated mud and bogs, cut across rivers, done extreme acceleration and braking tests, run flat out on a live airport runway and driven through the fuselage of a Boeing 747’.

2014 Range Rover Sport

No, he wasn’t hallucinating, intoxicated or exaggerating – he was in fact spot on. We had just completed over a day and half of intense behind the wheel action, across over 500km of the finest driving roads in mid-Wales and Clarkson-country – the Cotswalds (yes, we did see him actually!) in a car that was hell-bent in trying to convince us that it really was the elusive all-purpose automotive solution – the one Rangie to rule them all, and more besides.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The car in question was the new Range Rover Sport. And what he really wanted to know was, what did I think of it? Well, it’s a car that’s just realigned my thinking. What thinking? How and why? Well I’ll come back to that.

2014 Range Rover Sport

How new is it?

Totally. Well, it’s based on the completely new Range Rover, so it would be. In fact it was developed alongside the big-daddy Rangie but don’t think it’s just a reskin job – 75% of its parts are unique to the Sport.

It’s 149mm shorter and 55mm lower than its big brother and weights about 45kg less model-for-model.

2014 Range Rover Sport

And there’s a couple of key differences that stand out for me – it has a powered foldaway third row of seats that are good enough to carry children around in, and a lever instead of the Jaguar-style knob to shift gears (although it is a fly-by-wire type of controller similar to the BMW version, and sometimes equally confusing and indistinct).

2014 Range Rover Sport

Compared to the previous Sport, it’s claimed to be up to 420kg lighter thanks to the new lightweight aluminium (50% recycled) architecture for some models. However it’s 62mm longer at 4850mm, although still shorter than most 7-seat SUVs, Land Rover claims.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The wheelbase has gone up by 178mm – hence the greater interior space including 24mm of extra knee room in the back – and its 55mm wider.

2014 Range Rover Sport

 

Off-roading credentials intact

Usefully for off-roading, it has shorter overhangs front and rear which actually give it 33-degree approach and 31-degree departure angles.

2014 Range Rover Sport

And staying true to its off-road heritage, it boasts an incredible level of wheel-movement and articulation with as much as 260mm of travel at the front and 272mm at the back, with a total articulation of 546mm – which we did indeed get to see in action.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Another great techy-aid, which I’m guessing will only be optional for our market is the ‘wade sensing feature’ which lets you know when the water is getting too high – although by then I suspect there’s probably very little you can do about it, as you’re hardly going to stop and back out of it! In any case, it’s substantial at 850mm (150mm up on the previous car) which is pretty much up to the top of the wheel arches.

2014 Range Rover Sport

There are two types of full-time 4WD system being offered on the new Range Rover Sport. The first is a two-speed transfer case with low-range option, with a front-rear 50/50 default torque split and 100% locking capability. This is the system we’ll be getting in our region.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The second is an 18kg lighter system with a single-speed transfer case and a Torsen differential with a 42/58 torque split with rear-drive bias and more geared towards better on-road driving.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The fifth generation air suspension can give you a maximum ground clearance of up to 278mm, and unlike before, you can keep an increased ground clearance for speeds up to 80kph (previously 50kph) – perfect for when you want to storm along between the sand dunes!

2014 Range Rover Sport

Sportiest Sport ever

On the other hand, this is also the fastest Land Rover ever, and the Sport now finally takes up its rightful place in what I call the five second SUV club. The 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged (one of the two engines we’ll be getting, the other being a V6 Supercharged) produces 510bhp and will propel the new Sport to 100kph from rest in 5.3 seconds and onto a limited 225kph (although you can opt to have that raised to 250kph).

2014 Range Rover Sport

Even the 340bhp 3.0 V6 Supercharged is no slouch, managing the acceleration run in 7.2 seconds and hitting about 210kph. Both now utilise the excellent 8-speed ZF transmission with paddle-shifts already seen in the Range Rover.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The Sport is also 8% more aerodynamically efficient and 25% stiffer which improves refinement but also dynamics. Talking of which, the dynamic mode (where fitted) adds an active rear locking differential, provides torque vectoring through braking, as well as active lean control, plus it stiffens the roll bar, firms up the steering, improves throttle response and holds gears longer.

2014 Range Rover Sport

An interesting side effect of Torque vectoring was found to be improved sand driving, so they’ve dialled it up by 15% just for our market!

2014 Range Rover Sport

Styling that suits

The smoother sleeker styling themes that were introduced on the baby Range Rover Evoque and then made onto the all-new big daddy Rangie, are much in evidence here on the Sport too.

2014 Range Rover Sport

But here’s the thing – they feel more evolutionary on the Sport and not as radical as they appeared on the bigger car. The smoothed-over lines, fared-in bumpers and fenders, reduced height, and the more subtle side-vent, as opposed to the massive gills on the big Rangie, all combine to work so much better on the proportions of the Sport.

2014 Range Rover Sport

In fact to my eyes, I think the Sport is better resolved than either of its siblings and is way more instantly likeable and comfortably familiar than the flagship. It manages to combine a meaty presence and tough stance, with seriously sporty intent yet maintaining its unimpeachable prestige and class. It even looks right on the 21-inch rims seen in these pictures and on the cars we drove, shod with the off-road tyres as standard. Overall nice job.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Inside the sporty flavour continues with a compact and thicker-rimmed steering wheel, that proper shift lever, the more supportive side bolsters (more evident in the OTT tri-colour trim of the V8 car we drove, plus the higher centre console and generally the way the cabin more tightly encloses the driver. You know this is not the big Rangie because the door sill is too high to lean your elbow on.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The rear cabin is even more comfortable and spacious than before and I can confirm there are seats in the back, though I made no attempt to get in there, as I probably wouldn’t be able to extricate myself. They’re best left for kids.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Driving the new Sport – V8 & V6

The international press launch may have been in austerity Britain, where you have to take a bank loan to fill up the petrol tank on a Sport, but we’re from the Middle East and made a beeline straight for the V8 Supercharged.

2014 Range Rover Sport

We were not to be disappointed. Once again to emphasis the racier intent of the new car, the engineers have dialled up the engine note which sounds deep and purposeful from the get-go, and rises to a potent rumble when you’re on it. In fact, it sounds fantastic.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The accompanying momentum does not disappoint, it simply lunges forward with the energy of a poised athlete, totally at odds when you realise the mass your piloting. You can leave the superb gearbox to do its own thing, or knock it across to Sport or better still, work those paddles yourself. They respond well and generally the tranny won’t override your commands until you’re right on the limiter.

2014 Range Rover Sport

There’s never any shortage of torque, and if anything there is perhaps a little too much oomph when you’re off-roading. Even with everything dialled into mud mode, churning up loads of the foul stuff in the forest sections, it was too easy to overdo it with the throttle, which would just bury you in the slime if you weren’t careful.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Talking of off-roading this car negotiated the aforementioned mud, and waded across and through some significant ponds with nary a complaint to be heard – the loudest sound being me freaking out behind the wheel as a wave of disgusting bog-water washed up over the windscreen.

2014 Range Rover Sport

I don’t really like this sort of terrain, so it was good to know the Land Rover’s Terrain Reponse was pretty much taking care of matters for me. What I did really enjoy and got a real kick out of, was when they let us loose on a gravel track and allowed us to simply go for it. Kept in Dynamic mode the Sport was kicking its back around corners with glee and doing a very good impression of rally car.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Back on the road, the electronic power steering could be more feelsome, but fortunately it is faithful in accuracy and responses and you find yourself diving harder and further into corners, and leaning heavily on the excellent brakes than you might normally do. Scrubbing off big speed is not a problem and piling it back on is simply a matter of burying the throttle and listening to that sucking sound as the world fuel reserves run dry!

2014 Range Rover Sport

Obviously it’s a supreme cruiser on the motorway, and when you want to just kick-back a bit, the multitude of drivers aids including the adaptive cruise control will keep things moving along for you, whilst you can bask in the glory of the 1700W 23-speaker stereo in your 14-way adjustable seats, with little wind or road noise intrusion thanks to best-in-class stats. Needless to say, it’s packed with all the toys you could wish for too – don’t forget to spec the rear entertainment for the kids.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Driving the V6

Moving to the V6 Supercharged car after the V8, we realise we’ve done it the wrong way around. We’ve spoilt ourselves.

2014 Range Rover Sport
Truth be told, thanks to the lighter weight, the V6 is all the motor you’d need in the new Sport. It may lack the initial punch of the V8, but it builds up speed briskly and satisfyingly, and never exactly feels weedy or weak. They could probably run this car with the great 2.0-Turbo from the Evoque, and you know what? They will.

2014_Range_Rover_Sport_54

Even when things got rough again, and despite the V6 we drove not having Dynamic mode and hence only one locking differential, it still managed to get easily through some of the deepest squelchiest sections we’d encountered over the two days. Although it did roll a little more on the twisty B-roads without the D-mode.

2014 Range Rover Sport

We then arrived at Cotswold Airport where we got to do acceleration and flat-out runs on a live runway – and then we drove through a plane. Yep Land Rover had bought and converted an old Boeing 747 into a 4×4 obstacle course. Driving up a ramp at the back we had to closely follow the guidance of the instructors walking ahead of us, as we manoeuvred into the tight fuselage that was already set-up with angled ramps and articulations tests.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Passing through first class we then had to put our faith in the car’s automatic hill descent and just lift off the brake and let the car work its own way down. An incredibly surreal experience, great fun, but still proving a point about the new Sport’s abilities. Needless to say, despite climbing these steep ramps, the V6 never struggled.

2014 Range Rover Sport

So if you’d never driven a V8, you’d be very happy with the V6 and would be blissfully unaware of what all the fuss was about when it came to the bigger engine’s 500+ horsepower. But once you’ve tasted that power, in a car like this Sport, nothing else will do.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Verdict

The Range Rover Sport really lives up to the ‘Sport’ part of its name now. It was something of a chink in its armour before, because as good as the old Sport was, it always had to whimper off to the back of the car park whenever super-SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, Mercedes ML63 AMG and even the far more affordable Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 pulled up to the starting lines.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Now finally the Sport can go fender to the fender with each of these performance-wise. As far as dynamic ability, I suspect the Porsche would be the sharper, more focussed steer, although the Sport might be closer to the brilliant SRT8 in terms of dynamic feel. It’s definitely a more entertaining drive than the ML63 I believe.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Plus of course it can do what the other three can only have a pretty good go at – take all four off-road and I suspect the three rivals would struggle and get stuck, whereas the Range Rover Sport would just about keep going.

2014 Range Rover Sport

The ride is superb despite the big wheels and the body control, whether corner-carving or bouncing about on the rough stuff is nothing short of amazing. The range and ability of the clever new suspension on this thing is truly astonishing.

2014 Range Rover Sport

So how about that realignment of thinking I was talking about at the beginning? They original Sport ran from 2005-2013 and sold 415,000 units, a large number of them right here in this region. But I’ve always maintained that if you’re going to buy a Range Rover, buy the proper Big Daddy version.

2014 Range Rover Sport

However, this new Sport, with its go-anywhere, do-anything ability, the occasional extra seats, a proper shifter, the ability to keep up with a Cayenne at last and leave it buried when it comes to the sticky stuff and finally the better composed looks, has won me over.

[Read our tribute to the old Range Rover Sport]

2014 Range Rover Sport
Spec
Price:
Sport 3.0 SC HSE LE: AED379,000 ($103,200)
Sport 3.0 SC HSE: AED399,000 ($108,600)
Sport 5.0 SC Dynamics: AED479,000 ($130,400)
Sport 5.0 SC Autobiography Dynamic: AED559,000 ($152,200)
Engine:
3.0-litre V6 Supercharged, 340bhp@6500rpm, 450lb ft@3500rpm
5.0-litre V8 Supercharged, 510bhp@6000-6500, 460lb ft @2500-5500rpm
Performance:
V6: 7.2secs 0-100kph, 209kph (limited), 12.4L/100
V8: 5.3secs 0-100kph, 225kph (250kph optional), 14.7L/100
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight:
V6: 2144kg
V8: 2310kg

Out of the all-new trio of Range Rovers, which would you have and why, Evoque, Sport or the big Rangie? Tell us below.

3 responses to “2014 Range Rover Sport Review”

  1. ENGR. MAHBUBAR RAHMAN says:

    EXCELLENT ALL PURPOSE LUXURY CAR.

  2. anu choudury says:

    How much money got it bangladesh.

  3. Suhailahmed Jatoi says:

    I love car range rover

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