Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype review (2013 onwards) - MSN Cars UK | Catalog-cars

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype review (2013 onwards) – MSN Cars UK

23 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype review (2013 onwards) – MSN Cars UK

Land Rover Range Rover

Sport prototype review (2013 onwards)

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Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: summary

MSN Cars gets an early drive in the all-new Range Rover Sport – and comes away mightily impressed, and eager for more…

What: Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: first impressions

The Range Rover Sport was a storming success for Land Rover. It was derived from its first-ever concept car, the Range Stormer, a model as jaw-dropping in 2004 as its next concept car, the Land Rover LRX, would be in 2008. That, of course, led to the Range Rover Evoque.

Another storming success.

Land Rover thus has lofty ambitions for the all-new Range Rover Sport, on sale in September 2013. Getting Daniel Craig along to reveal it at the New York Motor Show was part of this; spending £1 billion on a brand new factory to build nearly 100,000 cars a year is another.

This time, it’s derived from the all-aluminium new Range Rover rather than the Land Rover Discovery. And we already know that’s brilliant. Here, Land Rover’s changed 75% of that vehicle to give it a more sporting focus.

So what’s been done to make this second-generation model better? Well, bosses have a glib catchphrase for the new Range Rover Sport: more Range Rover, more Sport. That’s what customers have asked for, apparently, but it isn’t as cheesy as it sounds.

It means the new one should be both posher and sportier, which really isn’t a bad set of intentions for something like the Range Rover Sport. It might just be enough to shake off those footballers’ connotations that blighted the old model.

Land Rover invited MSN Cars to its Gaydon test track for a drive of a production-standard prototype V8 Supercharged model. Is it a car fit for Bond? Our early pre-production taster drive would give us some strong clues…

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: p erformance

The new Range Rover Sport is made entirely from aluminium. This means it’s massively lighter than the old one – more than 400kg, or five tall blokes’ worth. With more powerful engines and a more efficient eight-speed automatic drivetrain, it’s guaranteed to be faster.

And how. The 510hp Supersport we drove was epic. On paper, it does 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and, in something as big and tall as this, that’s even more monumental than it sounds.

On the Gaydon mile-long straight, we accelerated from 30mph right up to 142mph well before half way up the track.

Hitting the speed limiter was like brushing the brakes, so purposeful was the acceleration up to it. This was prominent throughout the drive: it simply surges, immediately, with the size of it only reinforcing the effect. At the end of the straight, the monster brakes had no trouble hauling it back down again either.

As this is Land Rover’s Jaguar F-type, the appearance of an F-type pistol grip gearshifter and steering wheel paddles for the brilliant auto gearbox are entirely fitting. It even sounds almost as good as the Jag – the V8 rasps the second you start it up and throbs richly whenever you want.

Other engines are available – a supercharged V6 petrol, the excellent V6 diesel and, later on, a likely-epic V8 turbodiesel – but it’s the supercharged V8 that’s most ‘sport’ of all. It’s this powertrain that’s going to define the range.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: ride and handling

There’s not a plusher, more elegant large SUV than the new Range Rover. What we didn’t know at its launch was the Land Rover engineer’s dual model strategy – they were designing its suspension to also raise standards in the Range Rover Sport. With the focus on sport.

We felt this right away. The ride is notably firmer and more taut than a Range Rover, body control significantly less free and flowing. It’s not harsh and uncomfortable, just more, err, sporting.

Think of it as the Range Rover GTI.

Because you’re sat so high, the fact steering response is so crisp and feel from the front end so strong comes as a surprise. We had no problem immediately driving it fast around the Gaydon test track, simply because it was so sharp and accurate. It’s anything but the soggy SUV and feels completely uncompromised by its 4WD underpinnings.

We expect it to give the Porsche Cayenne a stern challenge.

Land Rover has given it a new selectable Dynamic Mode. Turn this on and it becomes sportier still: dampers are firmer, there’s less roll, the steering becomes heavier – oh, and the dials turn red. The extra responsiveness we felt with it on makes us think this will be a popular new feature for the Range Rover Sport.

There’s other new tech that makes it sportier. The suspension has active roll control, to cut lean in corners, and becomes the first Land Rover to use torque vectoring. Porsche introduced this with the 911 Turbo: it’s clever tech that uses the brakes to sharpen the car’s response in corners.

We felt this during our drive. Land Rover’s introduced it to reduce understeer and increase turn-in – through a long sweeping corner, tweaking the wheel mid-corner did indeed get an instant response, with the front reacting and the rear end helping us through.

With aggressive inputs, it became borderline oversteer (quelled by the stability systems, of course), which is pretty remarkable for a big tall two-tonne SUV. No wonder JLR engineering guru (and driving God) Mike Cross apparently had no problem four-wheel drifting a Range Rover Sport in the video Land Rover showed us at the start of the day…

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: interior

To drivers of the old Range Rover Sport, stepping into the new one will be like night and day. It takes them from Discovery mainstream into Range Rover luxury – but the firm’s been careful to ensure it’s distinctive in its own right, not just a facsimile of the Range Rover.

So the seat is lower, and much more bolstered. The centre console is higher. It feels like you’re sitting ‘in’ it rather than ‘on’ it, but still with the commanding view down the road. Fittingly, Land Rover calls it a ‘command sport’ feel, and enhances it with a smaller, thicker steering wheel, that F-type gearshifter and some decidedly intentful trim options (black and red?

You bet).

Swathed in leather, everything’s caress-worthy and it absolutely feels a significant cut above the old one. Responding to customers’ needs, it’s bigger and comfier in the back and there’s more technology than before, from electronic dials to optional high-tech rear infotainment system. The front seats are cooled and heated: so too are the rears. The front seats recline: so too do the rears.

It’s jam-packed with features.

This becomes the first-ever Range Rover to be a seven-seater. Land Rover says Sport customers are younger than Range Rover buyers, and their kids have more use for the extra pews. The ‘5+2’ rear chairs are electrically powered and disappear into the floor when not needed: they don’t take up any extra space yet are big enough to fit the engineers’ mates in for a short run back from the pub.

Clever.

Even smarter is the new Land Rover smartphone app that launches with the Range Rover Sport. It lets you remotely see how much fuel is in it, exactly where it’s parked (and the quickest route to walk there), whether it’s locked, even if there’s enough water in the windscreen washer bottle. Called InControl, it seems brilliant – we can’t wait to try it out.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: economy

Because it’s so much lighter, the new Range Rover Sport is also much more fuel efficient – up to 24% more economical, says Land Rover. All models also get intelligent stop-start to bolster then inherent efficiency of that superb eight-speed gearbox. The sole exception is the V8 SC car we drove: 22mpg isn’t clever when the diesels do nearly 39mpg.

Building it is greener. It’s made from 50% recycled aluminium (including soft drinks cans) and because the construction process doesn’t require any actual welding, even this is better for the environment. At the end of its life, 75% of it can be easily recycled.

It really is one of the greenest luxury SUVs on sale.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport prototype: the MSN Cars verdict

Driving the new Range Rover Sport so early has left us eager for more. It’s significantly plusher and more sporting than the current car, with a brace of fascinating new (Bond-like?) technoloical and customer-focused features that may well prove irresistible (even if they may not prove cheap, either).

It’s all wrapped up in a stylish new body good enough for Bond, that completes the Range Rover range overhaul. Based on this early drive, we fully expect the brand new factory to be running at full capacity before long: it’s that good.

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