The modern perfection
What’s this world coming to? At the risk of sounding like the grumpy sod I’m slowly turning into, back when I was young all Landies were slow, noisy and pretty ugly. I know this because my first car was just such a beast and nothing like my latest review victim, Land Rover’s new Range Rover Sport.
I’ll tell you what happened. Our modern culture demands exceptional efficiency, comfort and style from the things that tug at our purse strings. Those old Series and Defender Landies were – and still are – for people who dislike shaving and substitute mosquito nets with a generous dose of rum.
The modern man or woman, who conducts business via a bewildering assortment of shiny gadgets and owns more than two grooming products, doesn’t want to double de-clutch up their driveway or wrestle an unassisted steering wheel into the seaside sushi bar’s valet bay. Oh no.
What they want is modern perfection. State-of-the-art technology wrapped in a flashy suit, low-riding street stance with pucker off-road gear underneath, garnished with enough bling and gadgets to make a statement. My sleek machine masters tarmac as well as mud, without me having to twist a single hub.
This is how the Range Rover Sport came about. Its bigger brother, the magnificent Range Rover, gracefully followed the path it had chosen – to be the most luxurious 4×4 out there. The smaller and cheaper Discovery quickly became a family favourite but that meant it wasn’t what the urban trendsetters craved.
They wanted style and presence, without the bulk and cost of the big RR. They wanted a Range Rover Sport. That name and the green oval on either end of the car give it pedigree and competence while the fine leather, thick carpets, clever cameras and intricate infotainment centre rack up an impressive toy count.
As part of Land Rover’s relentless drive towards modern luxury, the first generation Sport (debut 2005) was based on the successful Discovery 3 platform with enough goodies borrowed from the flagship to warrant the use of its name. This all-new model is a little more custom, slightly longer and quite a bit lighter.
Propulsion comes from either a V6 or V8 engine in turbo-diesel or supercharged petrol guise with various equipment lines and optional extras to suit your well-honed taste. Our press vehicle was an HSE model with a 250kW/450Nm 3-litre supercharged petrol V6, capable of 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds. Sport indeed.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox with Command Shift (paddles) sends the engine’s efforts to all four wheels via a supremely clever drive train – Land Rover’s latest-generation Terrain Response. You may select anything from mud, rock crawl or soft sand and the car will set itself up accordingly.
Better yet, just leave it in “Auto” mode and the Range Rover Sport will figure everything out on its own – if need be, with the help of its trick 360° cameras. The fully-independent air suspension can be raised or lowered but will also work autonomously on the highway or while fording a river (800mm max).
I didn’t ford any rivers but I pointed my RRS at some dirt roads and ditches – which it laughed at. At the car’s launch, Land Rover had journalist drive into, inside and out of an airliner, followed by the obvious dust ‘n mud challenges. Youtube will be happy to show you any and all of these feats.
The Range Rover Sport is properly capable beyond the tarmac, not that many owners would want to chance a scratch on the exquisite paintwork or a dull pop from the low-profile tyres (19 to 22 inch available). Most of these cars will spend the majority of their time in Suburbia and on highways – where they’ll also shine.
Your family will be safe and happy thanks to all imaginable safety features and, depending on model and options ticked, toys like rear DVD entertainment, dual-view front monitor, four-zone climate control, electric everything (including tailgate), studio-quality Meridian audio and hard-disk navigation.
I even chucked this car into tight corners at varying speeds and the grip levels were exceptional for such a big machine. As was the power delivery and torque; this model usually cruises at around 1,500rpm and you need not floor it to gain speed. Should you floor it, you’ll even get a V6 growl and faint supercharger whine.
Average fuel consumption is claimed at 11.3L/100km and we concur – our week’s driving yielded around 12L/100km so you can expect a range of about 900km from the 105L tank. What will all this cost you? This particular model retails for N$1,094,400 with more models either side of that price.
Land Rover will also throw in a 3-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year/100,000km maintenance plan. That means you can relax for the next few years and until such time when you wish to replace it with something even more trendy and imposing. I hear they’re building a Discovery Sport soon…