The previous Range Rover Sport is a sporty Rangie in name, but it actually employs the platform of the Land Rover Discovery 3, an unsporty utility vehicle. The new Range Rover Sport, on the other hand, is really a Rangie underneath, which in today’s context means an all-aluminium monocoque body that weighs a whopping 420kg less than its portly predecessor. But it still tips the scale on the wrong side of two tonnes, due to plenty of equipment and ample amenities. The exterior design is less regal than the regular Range Rover and more macho than the pretty Evoque.
Moving the massive machine, as tested here, is a supercharged 3-litre V6 that puts 340bhp and 450Nm to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission, which comes with a nice-to-grip lever and little paddle-shifters. And the “+/–” orientation of the semi-manual gate is ideal for quick driving – tap forward for a downshift and tap backward for an upshift.
The drivetrain’s superior power-to-weight ratio and better efficiency translate into heartier yet less thirsty performance than the old 4.2-litre V8 model. Industry captains and oil barons who want more power in their supercharged “power ranger” can opt for the 5-litre V8 version, which produces in excess of 500bhp and 600Nm – overkill for school runs, supermarket errands or workday commutes.
Of course, the V6 Rangie Sport is slower than its full-blown V8 sibling, and this is most obvious when accelerating from a standstill. There seems to be a “slow zone” between the supercharger spooling up and the SUV’s great deadweight being overcome. Only after this stage does the Rangie start playing Sport, with the engine sucking air like a jumbo Hoover and charging ahead like the Hoover Dam on 21-inch wheels.
Taxis, lorries and minibuses moved over when their drivers spotted the red Rangie looming in their rear view mirror. Even the occasional MRT train driver on a street-level track looked slightly intimidated by the British “battleship” sailing alongside.
Incidentally, it sails over the tarmac less comfortably than the limo-like Range Rover. If the latter is the Rolls-Royce of off-roaders, then the Rangie Sport is the Bentley – large, fast, heavy, hard-hitting. It hammers its way through corners like the “Big Ben” of hot hatches, with solid body control and strong roadholding, but the suspension, anti-roll bars and vented disc brakes have to work very hard to “keep up”. Throwing a 2.2-tonne (68kg driver inclusive) Range Rover Sport around is far more strenuous exercise than doing the same in a VW Tiguan Sport.
The car becomes even heavier with six passengers in the cabin. Unlike the non-Sport Rangie, the Rangie Sport can be specified as a seven-seater (an $11k option on the petrol models, standard on the diesel models). Although the two “spare” seats in the boot area are less accommodating than those in the Discovery 3 “MPV”, they are acceptable for adults on a short ride or children on a long ride, and they’re electrically stowed/deployed for convenience. By the way, spending an extra $12k for the second-row entertainment system will delay “Are we there yet?” questions from the five rear occupants, who’ll also wonder why the seatback nets are so useless.
Far more useful are the storage points around the driver, who’ll have no problem stashing his personal effects – everything from a black wallet to a green beret. He’ll also have no trouble operating the vehicle, thanks to its user-friendly dashboard displays and devices. An array of sophisticated electronic systems, headlined by Terrain Response (Land Rover’s unstoppable 4×4 traction technology), enable the Rangie Sport to conquer real jungle and concrete jungle with equal aplomb. It’s the go-to car in the event of World War III (or World War Z). It can even wade in water up to 850mm deep (which will reach the door handles), so “ponding” won’t pose any danger.
Posing greater danger to the Range Rover Sport is the competition. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo tries its best to be the 911 of luxury SUVs; BMW boasts a variety of X5s and X6s to drive industry captains and oil barons to distraction; while Mercedes-Benz sells AMG-modified SUVs with the works. Even Jeep offers something interesting in this segment – the 6.4-litre V8 Grand Cherokee SRT8.
But ultimately, there can only be one “Mighty Morphine Power Ranger”.
ENGINE 2995cc, 24-valves, V6, supercharged
MAX POWER 340bhp at 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 450Nm at 3500-5000rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 210km/h
CO2 EMISSION 249g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$460,000 (after $10k CEVS surcharge)
RANGE ROVER SPORT 3.0 SDV6