A new Range Rover used to come with a sense of occasion but an infusion of a new engine, not so much. But, there is reason enough to be excited for this one.
Part of the Ingenium range, this four-pot is strong on specs and puts some six-cylinder engines to shame! Packing 300hp and 400Nm of torque, these are figures that befit any car with a ‘Sport’ suffix. Partner that with the high seating position and you start feeling invincible even before you get out of your driveway. Of course, this being a Range Rover, the focus is more on ride comfort and flattening even the largest of potholes, since no Sport owner in his or her right mind will ever dare to take it truly “off-road”.
A handsome silhouette from any angle, the Sport borrows elements both from the big daddy Range Rover and the more urbane Velar and fuses them in a package that is imposing yet dynamic looking. You want to drive it fast and over hostile terrain and that is exactly what it does best. You wouldn’t want to nick its shiny bodywork and that is the dichotomy all Range Rover owners live with. It’s only when you can power through the fear can you really exploit the full potential of this stellar machine. It is a bit of a pity though that most of the aero-looking bits like the side vents and air intakes are faux. Nevertheless, it does look indestructible and fast, so no complaints!
Big is always better
As always, if you are an off-road junkie, the Range Rover throws in a lot of tech that makes you look like a hero when you emerge on the other side of the dirt track. Terrain Response 2 is more accomplished than ever now, with different modes optimised for traction on varying surfaces like snow, gravel, sand, rock etc. Auto is where its best left at most of the times and let the electronic nannies do their thing while you’re perched atop your throne. And the thrones in question are really nice too. Front or back, the seats are supportive, well-cushioned and large enough to make the longest journeys feel as short as a run to the grocery store. Aided by the huge panoramic sunroof, it makes this cabin a long-distance dream come true. It’s a Range Rover you can enjoy driving yourself and the Sport moniker lives up to its name by offering controlled body movements, a 2.0L engine that comes to life above the 1900rpm mark and is eager to sprint and paddle shifts in case you really want to be involved in the process. Though, the response can be spiky and you’ll find yourself adopting a more relaxed driving style, especially in traffic conditions where a heavy right foot will just bring in a lot of anxiety along with the turbo lag. But keep it progressive and the power comes on cleanly, making it a great open road cruiser where it lets you forget what surface you’re driving on very easily, like any good Range Rover should!
The adaptive air-suspension works like a charm by gliding over broken roads like they were lined with fresh asphalt. Turn on the aggression levels though and it remains pretty composed for such a large SUV being hustled through a series of bends. In everyday use, its things like auto hold in D that eases driver fatigue and makes light work of driving.
Honed over decades, one of the intangible attributes of the Range Rover is its seating position. With a commanding view out of the windscreen and the perfect seats and armrest position, even the high-set window buttons and door pads aid in practicality.
(Almost) future ready
The clutter-free interiors have given way to two 10in touchscreens that share function duties and look absolutely stunning. The screens can be individually used different functions like vehicle settings, lighting, diagnostics etc on the top screen while media, climate control and Terrain Response is handled by the lower screen. Rotary knobs on the lower screen are contextual and overall it makes for an easy system once you get familiar with your way around it. Although, some key physical buttons would be better if you don’t want to keep your eyes off the road for every single task.
The 12.3in interactive driver display is really the show stealer with 3-way split view or a full-screen map. This could be the best stock navigation system of any luxury car. From the superbly rendered 3D graphics to the massive 12.3in real estate right in front of your line of vision, maps are accurate and the best in the business. You can even get away without using Google Maps and that’s saying something! The infotainment system gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support but no wireless charging or wireless CarPlay, which is again a big miss at this price point. Remote Premium is an app suite that allows car locks, climate system, fuel levels to be checked via an Apple Watch with a registered SIM. Bumper to bumper, the Sport is stacked with tech but there are some we like more than others. Like…
Chunky and contextual, the steering controls on the Sport are a joy to use and also more functional. It has a voice-assistant but is limited to basic commands, so don’t expect to get into a conversation like you would with Siri or Alexa. There’s a programmable button to play with which is convenient if you have one go-to feature you keep using a lot and isn’t already mapped on the preset.
The optional Meridian audio can add to some fun too but our review car had the stock system which is just about OK. There was some rattling from the front door panels on music with extended bass and if you are buying a RR Sport, you can surely stretch yourself to get the upgraded hi-fi system.
Never get lost!
The feeling behind the wheel of a full-size Range Rover is still something special and not easily imitable by other SUVs. The Sport is capable on-road and off with speed and ride that is more than adequate for the most demanding oligarch. But for a car that has ‘Sport’ in its moniker to not have a Sport mode in its drive is a bit baffling! Get over that and it’s an accomplished long-range missile that is fast, even faster off-road if you choose to be daring enough and for everyday urban red-carpet events, it is still the undisputed king of SUV status.