First offered in 2006, the Range Rover Sport from Land Rover had a complete overhaul in 2014. Now it features an aluminium shell and a shorter, sportier shape that brings it close in line with the next-higher model in the range, the full-sized Range Rover. 2016 delivers two new power options, one designed for economy and the other well, not!
Today’s Range Rover Sport is a far nimbler and lighter vehicle than the 2006 original. Careful engineering and crafty materials science are behind this transformation. The Sport is now crafted from a glued, and riveted aluminium instead of steel (just like the Range Rover), and Land Rover say this trims 800 pounds off the car’s kerb weight.
This year introduces the HST model, showing off both a unique trim package and a unique drivetrain. Dark tint has crept into the front and rear lamps as well as the vents in the roof and fenders; there’s a new spoiler on the tailgate, and bright red brake callipers lurk inside the chunky 21-inch wheels. The new model is badged with red “HST” flashes inside and out. The cabin features trim in ebony and aluminium, metal shifters and pedals, and contrasting leather upholstery.
The base engine returns from the 2015 model – a very respectable 3-liter V6 that delivers 340 horsepower and a distinctive snarl. It can take the car up to 60 mph in under seven seconds, and it’s tied into an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. For those who crave more power, there are two supercharged V8 options available. The first delivers an already-impressive 510 hp; the SVR version bumps that up to a staggering 550 hp that comes along with premium mechanical systems.
The new options for 2016 include a supercharged V6 developing 380 hp for the HST. That’s 40 more hp than the base engine, putting the Sport into the same range as the F-Type sports car. The HST also features customised brakes and suspension tuning along with a Torsen centre differential. It’s all tied together by a dynamic management setting to maximise the vehicle’s performance under all conditions.
The Sport is now also available with a turbodiesel V6. This engine offers 440 lb-ft of torque, 254 hp, and a 0-60 time that matches the base supercharged V6. It’s a quiet and refined experience behind the wheel, and it delivers outstanding fuel economy. (22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, 25 mpg average) For a Sports driver looking to pay less at the pump, this is an obvious must-have.
It’s clear throughout the model range that the Sport’s name is a well-chosen one. Where the larger Range Rover specialises in comfort and luxury, the same variable-ratio steering system and air dampers are tuned for faster responses and tighter handling in the Sport. This Range Rover is finally approaching the kind of performance statistics posted by German super-utes. With the SVR, Range Rover takes several long strides deeper into the sporting territory. The SVR features a firm suspension, an upgraded chassis, and 21-inch wheels and tires designed for cannonball SUV performance.
The Range Rover Sport hasn’t left the brand’s core mission behind, though. With the Torsen FWD setup or the more advanced active rear differential on the two-speed version, the Sport is capable of generating tremendous traction in off-road conditions. The two-speed FWD system comes standard on all V8 models; on V6 versions it’s an optional extra. The new Sport rides higher than ever, with a ground clearance that rivals the full-sized Range Rover, even the performance-minded SVR is still more than capable of leaving the pavement behind. It has the same low-range transfer case and Terrain Response system, but the drivetrain has been beefed up to make sure that all of the SVR’s power and torque gets used efficiently.
The Range Rover Sport comes in several different trim levels. It starts with the base SE and the upgraded HSE, each of which come with a supercharged V6. Next in line is the Supercharged with the V8 engine and the Autobiography, which gets the same engine plus numerous luxury upgrades. At the top of the line stands the SVR with the 550 hp V8 and its performance-tune chassis.
The EPA mileage ratings for the new Sport are significantly improved over previous models. The V6 models get 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg average. The V8 models (minus the SVR) deliver 14/19/16 mpg.