The tough choice
Having recently had the pleasure of testing the big Range Rover Vogue, I am severely pleased that I don’t possess the bank balance to afford such a car. Yet. With the 2010 Range Rover Sport Supercharged taking up most of my driveway, I’m glad I don’t have to choose between the two.
Or, Heaven forbid, have to factor in the BMW X5 M, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 and Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG as well. It would be agonisingly difficult. They all have dozens of high-tech toys, seven-star interiors and impatiently spluttering vee-eights under their glossy bonnets.
As a motoring journalist I feel compelled to tell you that the Range Rover Super-duper-speed is no different than any of its aforementioned competitors. It is a flashy, expensive, ridiculously fast monster of a car that has a severe drinking problem and poisons fifteen pine trees a minute.
The reason for its incredible thirst and violent emissions is its Jaguar-derived 5-litre supercharged petrol V8 which assaults you with 375kW (510hp) or a back-breaking 625Nm. On top of that, it has a sinister burble at idle, a throaty roar and/or chilling supercharger whine, depending on the inclination of your right foot.
This stupendous power is permanently transferred to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters and Land-Rover’s terrain response system. It’s supposed to use an average of 14.9L/100km but a quick drive to the shops will yield 44.2L/100km. My overall average was 25L/100km. Ish.
Silly me, I have immediately started yakking about the engine and performance again. My apologies, the force-fed Sport demands no less. Its limited top-speed of 225km/h and our GPS 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds isn’t quite as fast as its rivals, but still highly amusing. And illegal. And addictive.
It instantly rumbles, roars and/or whines its way from any speed and any gear towards “I’m sorry, officer!” and, much like its peers, waves its multi-active electro-hydraulic 1000-times-a-second middle finger in the face of physics when it comes to handling and braking. It’s un-believable.
That typed, the Sport is harder sprung than the big Rangie and offers a sixth Terrain Response setting for dynamic handling. It can still raise or lower itself, crawl in Low Range or with Hill Descent Control and mastered a few steep and muddy forest tracks with stuck-up ease.
Don’t be deceived though, the Range Rover Sport is actually a Discovery in drag, preserving the original Range Rover’s relative exclusivity. Although smaller, its exterior shape does lean severely on big brother, with a few portions of menace and speed.
The luxurious interior slots right into the (rather similar) Range Rover and Discovery picture, with only minor differences to big brother Rangie. There’s less space but happily there are fewer buttons, too. The more slanted and uncluttered centre console makes for a cleaner environment, as do the more traditional dials.
The steering wheel isn’t heated but offers plenty of buttons for music, radar cruise, voice and telephone. Everything is electrically adjustable, digitally displayed or computer controlled and, as with other luxury Landy models, available in a mouth-watering array of contrasting colours.
Rear seat passengers enjoy their own DVD screens and door-mounted control panels as part of the Range Rover infotainment package. The main unit’s twin-view touch-screen monitor in the dashboard takes some getting used to but will be your best buddy in a traffic jam.
5 cameras with zoom feature, ipod/AUX, CD/DVD/mp3, navigation, bluetooth telephone, radio, 4×4 settings, harmon kardon LOGIC 7 and all that jazz will keep you entertained for hours, I guarantee it. The only sacrifices made from a big body Range Rover appear to be the TV tuner and a portable torch slash camera.
You still get active Xenon headlights, remote central locking, climate and adaptive cruise control, parking aids and cameras, eight airbags, electric park brake, trailer stability assistant, clever suspension, but will have to make do without the split tailgate; although this one can pop its window or the entire gate.
It’s not a particularly bitter pill to swallow, nor is the harder and slightly swifter ride. In fact, while the big Range Rover felt like… um… a big Range Rover, the Sportercharged Rangie feels less bulky and cumbersome to drive, despite both having similarly excellent suspension setups with intelligent countermeasures for the natural ungainliness of their 2.5 ton-plus hosts.
And that must be the reason why everyone pockets the huge saving over a Range Rover and goes for the Sporty instead. It’s smaller and more nimble, less spacious but more practical, less posh but more bling.
A Range Rover Sport Supercharged will cost you N$961 000 and will include a 3-year 100 000km warranty and 5-year 100 000km Land-Rover Care Plan. You will also receive, free of charge, my undivided envy.
Date/Time: 26/07/2010 09h34
Climate: Sunny, no wind
Road: Dry tarmac, level
Occupants: Driver, no passengers
Fuel level: 1/4
Mileage: 14 000km approx.