These are the key features that define Land Rover’s slick new Range Rover Sport SUV
Land Rover unveiled the new Range Rover Sport this week at a swanky pre-recorded launch event. It’s a slick and attention-grabbing design with no aesthetic surprises, with plenty of the subtly muscular bulges that have become Gerry McGovern’s hallmark. Nothing weird, and nothing out of place… apart from Gerry’s trainers.
Apparently the Sport has ‘a balance between sartorial restraint and emotionally charged driver engagement’. Sounds lovely – if only we know what that meant.
But we’re less interested in the glitzy launch than the features that underpin this car’s bid to be the high-performance SUV. The Range Rover Sport shares the MLA-flex underpinnings of the latest full-sized Range Rover which launched a few months ago, so some of the innovations in the latest Sport derive from its bigger brother. In the Sport the focus is on poise and handling rather than sheer luxury. Here’s what makes it stand out…
1. Rear-wheel steering
This was a headline feature of the full-sized Range Rover, enabling better high-speed stability as well as more manoeuvrability in tight spaces. When cruising, the rear wheels pivot (automatically) in the same direction as the front by up to 7.3 degrees; in car parks, they point in the opposite direction, giving a turning circle of 11 meters. A full-fat V8.
2. Full-fat V8 and fuel-sipping hybrids
The P530 is a new twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol, rocketing to 60mph in 4.3 seconds if you engage ‘Dynamic Launch’. The V8’s output of 530PS (523bhp) is significantly more than the 400-ish that powered the sporty straight-six P400 HST version of the outgoing model, and its torque is a stonking 750Nm (553 lb-ft) from 1800-4600rpm.
Mild-hybrid petrol and diesel options are also available. There are also P400e and P515e plug-in hybrid Range Rover Sports which puff a mere 18g of tailpipe CO2 per kilometre, and apparently make a gallon of petrol last up to 341 miles – yep, three hundred and forty one!
Expect an even fruitier SVR version to come, in addition to a fully electric version in 2024.
Incidentally, the 2.5-tonne twin-turbo V8 is over 300kg lighter than the PHEV P515e, whose batteries are probably to blame for its relative heft.
3. A minimalist interior
Land Rover prefers the word ‘reductionist’ to minimalist, but whatever. It’s an extremely clean, modern and upmarket design inside, thanks to lots of smooth and gleaming surfaces, chrome details, hardly any physical buttons and a big 13.1-inch haptic touchscreen at its centre.
And it should be quiet too, thanks partly to noise cancellation. Microphones built into each wheel feed signals to up to 29 Meridian speakers inside, including some built into the headrests, smoothing out road noise.
4. Those lamps…
Gone are the chunkier lights of the previous model, in favour of these striking slivers.
Like those of its predecessor, the new Range Rover Sport’s rear lights ape the front headlamps. The rear numberplate now sits lower, enabling the RANGE ROVER script to sit between the lamps. We also see an echo of the distinctive outline that characterises the rear-end of its bigger brother.
At the front, Digital LED Headlights can maintain full beam without dazzling other road users, thanks to 1.3 million ‘micromirror devices’ which automatically screen out oncoming traffic
5. The ‘Stormer Handling Pack’
Remember the Range Stormer concept, which revealed the idea for the first Range Rover Sport back in 2004? It’s from that chunky prototype that this new package of performance-focused extras gets its name. The system comprises Dynamic Response Pro – adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear, powered by 48-volt electrics and capable of applying 1400Nm of torque across each axle. It works in combination with an Electronic Active Differential for apportioning torque. There’s also Torque Vectoring by Braking, which applies the brakes to the inside wheel during hard cornering.
More handling-related wizardry comes in the form of Dynamic Air Suspension, made possible by new ‘switchable-volume air springs’. In Land Rover’s words, ‘the intelligent system enhances the bandwidth of the suspension by varying the pressure within the airbags to deliver traditional Range Rover comfort with the dynamic handling expected from the Range Rover Sport.’
We’ll put the 2022 Range Rover Sport through its paces as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for a muddy LRO verdict in the mag…