14 Oct

Range Rover Sport

he original Range Rover Sport was something of a blunt instrument, heavy, thirsty and not all that enjoyable to drive. The second-generation model, introduced in 2013, aimed to change all that.

Sitting between the smaller Evoque and full-blown Range Rover, it blends luxury with off-road utility, with the ability to tow up to 3.5 tonnes, plus the added practicality of being offered with seven seats. Perhaps most important of all, it is intended to be Range Rover’s most dynamic driver’s car, to which end you can buy a high performance SVR model that accelerates from 0-62mph faster than many sports cars.

Space   8/10

Third row seats aren’t the easiest to access

Range Rover Sport rear seats

The Range Rover Sport’s boot is easily big enough for most needs. A baby buggy will fit with lots of room to spare, or you can carry several large cases, plus the second row seats fold to give a completely flat load area.

It’s also generously spaced for five passengers, with plenty of head and leg room for all, even with the optional panoramic roof installed, while in-car storage is taken care of with generously sized door bins, a big glovebox and a useful cubby hole under the centre arm rest.

The third row of seats (a £1,600 option) are more compromised, though, being difficult to access and short of space – they are really only suitable for children.

Comfort   9/10

Supremely good at covering big distances

Range Rover Sport, driving, side

Range Rovers are designed to be luxurious, so it is no surprise to find that many of the interior surfaces in the Sport are wrapped in leather, nor that its engines emit a sophisticated growl under acceleration. The seats are exceptionally comfortable, with plenty of adjustment and even the ability to specify a massage function.

At motorway speeds you hear little more than the rustling of wind around the front of the car, and the air suspension (fitted to all models) does a great job of taking the edge off bumps in the road.

It’s worth noting, though, that while the Dynamic pack upgrade improves the handling, it comes at the cost of some low-speed ride comfort.

Dashboard layout   6/10

Starting to look dated

Range Rover Sport dashboard

What once seemed state-of-the-art can soon start to look dated, and so it is with the Range Rover Sport’s TFT dial display, which by 2016’s standards uses graphics that appear chunky and unsophisticated.

The same can be said of the central infotainment touchscreen, which also exhibits notable lag between pressing a button and anything happening, and uses rather dated looking maps for the satnav system. This is a shame, because in most other regards, the Sport’s dash is well executed, with an attractive design and clear heating controls.

Next to the gear selector are a series of controls for the suspension and off-road modes, which make some incredibly clever technology very easy to access.

Easy to drive   7/10

Not bad considering its size

Range Rover Sport, driving, dead front view

The Range Rover Sport is a big vehicle, and its sloping bonnet makes it difficult to judge where the front of the car ends. Over the shoulder visibility is also slightly tricky, so it’s good to see that all-round proximity sensors, plus a reversing camera are fitted to all models.

On the plus side, the steering is light at town speeds and responds accurately, and the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox is well suited to a big 4×4.

It is worth noting that the brake pedal on the HEV hybrid model feels oddly inconsistent, which can make it difficult to drive smoothly at low speed.

Fun to drive   8/10

For a big SUV, it’s a class act

Range Rover Sport water splash

Even the entry-level Range Rover Sport is a quick car, able to accelerate from 0-62mph in 7 seconds, and with plenty of grunt for overtaking. Move all the way up the range to the SVR model, and the supercharged V8 petrol engine will pull off the same acceleration in just 4.7 seconds, meaning it will outrun a Porsche Cayman.

What’s more, this is a big SUV that handles really well, feeling lively when you ask it to change direction, and always with plenty of grip. And while there is some body lean in corners, it’s well controlled.

Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, meanwhile, will look after those who want to go off-road.

Reliability   6/10

Land Rover has a mixed record

Land Rover has traditionally languished near the bottom of reliability studies, and after showing signs of improvement in recent years slipped again in 2015 with a disappointing result in the JD Power dependability survey. It finished 20th out of 26 manufacturers, although it should be noted that the only prestige brand to perform better than Land Rover was Mercedes.

Land Rover also matches BMW in offering a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, whereas Audi stops its cover after three years or 60,000 miles – whichever comes first.

Fuel economy    5/10

Rivals will give you more miles per gallon

Range Rover Sport, cornering

No large SUV is particularly economical, but the Range Rover Sport is among the worst performers. The most efficient version is the HEV diesel-electric hybrid, which returned 45.6mpg in official fuel tests, although in our hands this figure was closer to 33mpg.

In truth, you’re likely to record similar figures from the standard V6 diesel (which managed 40mpg in official tests), while if you’re really concerned about economy BMW builds versions of its X5 that topped 50mpg in official tests.

Only those with plenty of disposable income to spare should consider a petrol Range Rover Sport, which will struggle to top 22mpg in normal driving.

Affordability   6/10

Luxury doesn’t come cheap

The Range Rover Sport’s starting price is considerably higher than that of a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5, but it counters by being better equipped and feeling more luxurious.

As such, it also holds on to its value well, particularly if you opt for the V6 diesel. Insurance costs are predictably pricey, but Land Rover does help to plan for running costs with its five-year approved service plan.

It’s harder to justify the Range Rover Sport if you’re a company car driver – even the diesel hybrid model has higher CO2 emissions than rivals due to not offering plug-in capability.

Lease a Range Rover Sport with Telegraph Cars

Safety   8/10

Plenty of equipment as standard

Range Rover Sport safety display

The Range Rover Sport hasn’t been assessed by crash test organisation Euro NCAP, but it is based on the same aluminium platform as the Range Rover, which scored a maximum five stars, albeit under the older, more lenient criteria.

While it lacks the kind of self-driving technology we are now seeing from Volvo and Audi, the Range Rover Sport can still be ordered with lots of active safety equipment, including speed limit alerts (although these work with varying degrees of success), lane departure warning and an automatic parking function.

Standard spec   10/10

Lives up to high expectations

Range Rover Sport suspension buttons

You expect a certain degree of luxury when buying a £60,000 Range Rover, and the Sport doesn’t disappoint, with electrically adjustable leather seats, satnav and air suspension among the many standard features of the entry-level HSE.

Models higher up the range include heated seats for all passengers, larger alloy wheels, a boot that can be opened by waving your foot under the rear bumper, and a 19-speaker sound system. A television tuner, screens for the rear seats and full-length sunroof are among the many items on the options list.

Our favourite version

SDV6 HSE, list price £62,700

Options you should add Blind Spot Monitoring with Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection (£500), powered 5+2 seating (£1,600), InControl connect pack (£650), Approved service plan (£699)

The verdict   8/10

There aren’t many questions that the Range Rover Sport doesn’t answer with complete conviction. It is fast, quiet, comfortable and fun to drive. However, fuel economy can’t compete with rivals, and there are still question marks about Land Rover’s reliability record.

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