I get it. Some of us love the big daddy Range Rover but aren’t yet ready to commit to that lifestyle. The Range Rover Sport somehow looks more inviting and less intimidating, even though it actually is the same wheelbase as THE Range Rover. What helps with the visual distinction is a more raked windscreen, slim and stealthy head and tail lights, matte graphite lettering for the branding and the large 21in dark satin grey wheels. The RR Sport has a monolithic feel, and the reductive design philosophy goes a long way in making it feel so. Minimalist lines or disruptions in bodywork give it a smooth and futuristic look with an emphasis on build quality and materials. The flush door handles, the absence of any window sealing and the black-with-copper accents work in unison to make it look like Iron Man’s transport.
Range Rover Sport review
The post-apocalypse luxo barge
Stepping inside the cabin is no less theatrical with a symphony of high-quality materials, high-resolution screens and a high-performance audio system from Meridian that sets the benchmark in this class. Land Rover designers have done a great job of keeping it minimalist on the inside too, but not at the expense of practicality. So you still get physical AC dials for the front two zones and each dial can cleverly control both the fan speed and temperature whilst packing in a display in the centre. There’s also a physical volume knob which always brings a smile to my face!
The 13.7in digital cluster and the floating 13in infotainment screen pack in a lot more though. Superb graphics for seat cooling/heating and massaging, contouring for individual seat portions, including the headrest is a really indulgent yet useful feature to ensure long-distance comfort. Regardless of body type. Large cup holders, a cooled refrigeration box and a HUD ensure you can keep your eyes on the road while sipping on a chilled lemonade even on a sultry Mumbai afternoon. The typically high-set seating position is absolutely commanding and even with the height-adjustable suspension in Access mode, is quite the climb. If you plan to disregard the sticker price and test out the 900mm of wading depth the Sport is capable of, you can raise the suspension to its maximum height, which feels like you’re on an elephant safari crossing a river!
For an SUV this spacious though, certain ergonomic choices are questionable. Like the seat controls on the door pad that mingle with the window and mirror buttons. It’s all too cramped and I’m sure the internal wiring harness has to be designed in a certain way to accommodate the huge wading depth, but for a car with so much space, it does feel a bit weird. But Thankfully, that’s about all that is challenging. The haptic feedback on the screen is powerful enough to give you the sensation of real buttons and the off-road data available is truly staggering.
Cameras all around for a 360-degree view isn’t new anymore, but the Range Rover Sport goes a step further by adding cameras even under the car to show you goings on under that gargantuan bonnet. The stitching from the various cameras works well outdoors but in an indoor parking lot with vehicles in close proximity, it does make a mess of things. Though, when the visual cue fails, you can revert to the audio beeps and graphic overlays to help you back your way into a good spot.
ClearSight, which flips the rearview mirror into a live camera feed to give you a clearer picture of what’s happening behind you is a fantastic implementation of camera+screen tech too. But the star of the cabin here has to be the Meridian 3D Surround audio system that simply transports you to another time and place, even while parked! 19 speakers and 800 watts fill the large cabin with a crisp, punchy and dynamic sound that has the transient response of a great home audio system and even the soundstage is as wide! Pony up for the Meridian Signature system and you can even get active noise-cancelling headrest speakers, but even in this guise, the RR Sport cabin is a fantastic place to munch miles in. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, besides all the USB ports you would want make matters easy too.
How the engineers have massaged a sporty rasp from this straight-six diesel engine is almost like witchcraft, but it does full justice to the Sport badge of this Range Rover. The D350’s diesel powertrain makes 350hp and 700Nm, numbers that are more than adequate even for its size and when coupled to the Terrain Response system, it gives the driver (and passengers) a feeling of invincibility. The air-suspension can make way for 281mm of ground clearance and along with the proven off-road modes, you could take this 2cr plus luxury SUV into its natural habitat. But such acts don’t come naturally to those who value expensive paint and are averse to Pace builds up rapidly, though the lower gears can be a bit jerky, once you’re out on the open highways, the RR Sport just comes into its own with a ride that is wafty without being overtly soft and a hushed cabin that feels so well insulated from the outside world that it’s easy to get lost in the Meridian 3D Surround system.
Decelerating this hulk of a car is another matter altogether and while the brakes have ample stopping power, there is a very palpable sense of the bulk as you come to a halt. In the city confines, while it cocoons you like few other cars, it also comes with its fair share of hairy moments due to the generous dimensions. Yet, every time you find a clear stretch, the temptation to let your right foot loose is strong, such is the surge of power. It may not be the ultimate driver’s car, but it does make you feel like the ultimate warrior on our war-torn roads. In Comfort mode, it does roll around a bit but does flatten out potholes and expansion joints like bugs, just leaving an effortless feeling of being air-lifted through any terrain.
Not the most cost effective way to go off-roading for sure, Range Rovers are anything but affordable. But the Sport in Dynamic HSE trim will set you back by a cool Rs. 2.2cr and for that price, you do get a five-seater that makes for one of the best inter-city vehicles I have ever been behind the wheel of. Its blend of performance, luxury and refinement is still in a class of its own and the design is a huge step up in emphasizing this refinement, even though in profile it may look similar to the previous gen. It’s all about the attention to details, the quality of materials and the underlying capabilities that give it that indestructible feeling. If you can afford any car in this price range, definitely shortlist it in your test drives.
Big and beautiful, the RR Sport is truly the ultimate blend of performance, capability and refinement.
|6-cyl inline turbo-diesel
|0-100kmph in 6.0secs