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First drive: Range Rover Sport Supercharged. Image by Land Rover.

First drive: Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Obviously you should buy the diesel Range Rover Sport, but this 510hp Supercharged model is still worth coveting.

   



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| First Drive | Cheltenham, England | Range Rover Sport Supercharged |

Overall rating: 5 5 5 5 5

Few British buyers of the new Range Rover Sport would even countenance buying a petrol version, but to those in the market should look no further than the Supercharged model. It's everything anyone needs from an SUV - and so much more.

Key Facts

Model tested: Range Rover Sport 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography Dynamic
Pricing: 81,550 (Range Rover Sport starts at 51,550)
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: BMW X6M, Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne Turbo
CO2 emissions: 298g/km
Combined economy: 22.1mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,000- to 6,500rpm
Torque: 624Nm at 2,500- to 5,500rpm

In the Metal: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

As seems to be the way with a lot of modern cars, the attractiveness of the new Range Rover Sport (to our eyes) considerably depends on the colour combination. And it needs the 21-inch alloys pictured to fill out those muscular arches. As before it takes cues from the Range Rover proper, but it's distinctive, especially around the back and in profile. And it certainly has presence.

Inside, there's much more space than before all-round and the quality and ambience has stepped up a notch. There's even the option for an extra row of seats, though Land Rover emphasised how these have been designed for two kids only. They fold flat too and they unfold electronically. Other than that, the Sport driver sits lower than in the regular car and the dashboard is higher. The steering wheel is smaller too - though it's still huge by any normal measure - and the rotary gear selector of the big Rangie has been replaced by a more conventional (and tactile) selector, not too dissimilar to that found in the Jaguar F-Type.

Driving it: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Indeed, Land Rover reckons there's Jaguar F-Type 'DNA' in the Range Rover Sport, confirming that the engineering teams developing both cars shared some personnel. And it turns out that's not as ludicrous a claim as it might first sound.

Clearly, and despite a commendable weight reduction in the region of 400kg, the Range Rover Sport is still a big, heavy, high-sided vehicle. However, within those constraints it's an astoundingly accomplished SUV. To help illustrate this, Land Rover's launch included a wide variety of terrains, three different off-road sections, brilliantly challenging Welsh back roads and even a runway to test the maximum speed on.

You can read how we got on in the off-road bits in our first drive of the SDV6 model here so we'll focus on the on-road behaviour of the Supercharged model now.

It takes only a few miles of twisting tarmac to realise how much more agile feeling the Sport is in comparison to the regular Range Rover. That stems to a certain extent from the more direct steering (it's a speed-sensitive, variable ratio system), but it's also clear that there's even less slack in the car's responses as it keenly, accurately follows your chosen line through a bend.

Push much harder and the tyres begin to squeal well before the stability control system reckons it needs to step in. At this stage there's mild, stabilising understeer, but hang in there and more of the engine's output is sent to the rear wheels and the Sport takes on a more neutral stance and even one that's slightly rear-led. This feeling is enhanced by the Torque Vectoring (standard on Dynamic models) and an optional electronically controlled rear differential. Choose the right display on the huge touch screen and you can monitor when the differentials lock up when you're playing the hooligan too...

Land Rover fits the excellent ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox to all versions of the Range Rover Sport and it's a perfect match. Away from the Dynamic mode the gearbox can be put into Sport mode and the driver can change gears for himself using the wheel-mounted paddles (shamefully plasticky) or by toggling the shifter forward and back. The standard calibration is great, but it's so tempting to take over control of the gears for yourself as it summons up gratuitous throttle blips on the down change and you'll want to extend that fabulous V8 to the redline at every opportunity.

The numbers will tell you that the Supercharged car is considerably quicker, and with an empty runway to play on, it clearly is, but for the public road the SDV6 diesel car is quick enough for anyone's needs. Nonetheless, if money really is no object, we'd go for the petrol car, for the exhaust note if nothing else. It's seriously loud and seriously sporting. It never fails to raise a smile from the driver.

Though we're focusing on the agility and Sport side to this Range Rover it's worth pointing out that it retains a fair amount of the bigger car's imperiousness. Visibility is very good and it's exceptionally refined. Wind noise seems to become more of an issue at higher speeds, but no worse than most cars of this type.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

At the time of writing, the V8 petrol engine is only available in the loaded-to-the-gunwales-with-equipment Autobiography grade so buyers will want for nothing and can customise the Range Rover Sport to a large extent inside and out. However, it's far from cheap. Nonetheless, it seems priced fairly when you consider the heavy hitters it competes with in the performance SUV market.

Worth Noting

Since the initial launch of the Range Rover Sport, Land Rover has announced that it'll sell a diesel-electric hybrid version that steps on the toes of the Supercharged model in performance terms while using a lot less fuel. The 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine works in conjunction with an electric motor to deliver up to 340hp and 700Nm of torque. It'll do 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and hit 140mph, yet emits 169g/km of CO2 and returns 44.1mpg on the combined cycle.

Summary

As we said at the start of this review, nobody needs a Range Rover Sport powered by a supercharged V8 petrol engine - the SDV6 model is impressive and capable enough. However, if all thoughts of the price or running costs are cast aside, the Supercharged model is the one we'd go for - if nothing else for the exhaust note.


Shane O' Donoghue - 28 Aug 2013



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2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Max Earey.



2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 

2013 Range Rover Sport. Image by Land Rover.
 






 

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