Range Rover is one of those SUV makers that throughout its lifetime has managed to deliver SUVs that are one of the best at doing what they're supposed to do - going off-road. However, the brand has also managed to champion areas that weren't generally associated with SUVs. These include luxury and performance but Land Rover has over the decades successfully been able to infuse these two qualities in its SUVs without compromising the go-anywhere capabilities. Now though, times are changing faster than ever and caring for the planet means that engines are getting smaller and efficient. Land Rover recently plonked its 2.0 Litre petrol turbocharged Ingenium engine in the Range Rover Sport. Now the biggest question to be answered is that whether the company has pushed downsizing a bit too far for a heavy SUV with a 'Sports' moniker and expectations of more lively performance than the standard model? We had the vehicle with us for a few days to find out the answer.
Range Rover Sport Engine & Gearbox
First things first, the Range Rover Sport is powered by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder motor with a twin-scroll turbocharger. This is the same engine that is found in the F-Type range as well but here it has to haul a lot more mass of about 2 tonnes. That's like a small hatchback strapped onto the roof of the F-Type! However, grab hold of numbers and things don't look too bad as the engine develops 300 hp and 400 Nm of torque. In comparison, the V6 version develops 340 hp and is heavier as well. Clearly, the engine is showing signs of promise.
Transmission duties are carried out by an 8-speed automatic unit, which does a good job but leaves some room for improvement. Start off the line and the Sport pulls away cleanly and gentle throttle inputs result in an equally corresponding increase in velocity and all in a linear manner. Try and test the 'Sport' tag though with a sudden kick down and that's where you'll experience some lag as the transmission takes a moment to respond and the engine comes into its element once it crosses about 2,000 rpm. Thereon, acceleration is brisk and being a petrol motor you can rev cleanly to about 6,200 rpm.
The journey to the redline in every gear is rewarded by a pleasing note from the engine. The sound isn't shatteringly loud or soul-satisfying but it's good enough to keep you engaged and at times turn off the music if driving in quiet areas. As for the gearbox, it does a decent job, both in traffic and when pushing the SUV but if it does come across as a tad slow, especially around winding roads you can always use the paddle shifters.
Range Rover Sport Ride & Handling
They say it takes two to tango and coupled with a good driver the Range Rover Sport can actually do a fair bit of Tango around corners. There is no escaping the body-roll as overcoming the laws of Physics in an SUV as big as this is literally impossible. Still, Land Rover engineers have done a fantastic job of making the Sport predictable. Coupled with a communicative steering and good brakes you can push this behemoth quite a lot and be rewarded with surprising speed through corners.
Ride quality is an area that most Land Rover SUVs ace and this one's no different. It just glides through on smooth tarmac and small undulations are absorbed well enough to not bother the occupants. Both at slow and high speeds the Range Rover Sport manages to keep its occupants supremely comfortable, something most Indian buyers like in their SUVs.
Range Rover Sport Design, Features & Interiors
The Range Rover Sport is quite a sight to look at and a mighty impressive one. It retains the iconic Range Rover design and with a few extra bits it exudes a bit more aggression in its character. The stunning 20-inch alloy wheels do wonders to giving the side a dynamic look. Also, the air suspension allows you to adjust ride height to aid both off-roading and entry/ exit. At its lowest setting (Access Height) the SUV does look ready to charge towards the horizon with its low-slung stance.
Once inside, everything is plush and luxurious with high-quality leather and impressive build quality. There's also the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with a 10-inch touch screen in the top centre console. Below this one there's another touch screen, which looks fantastic but I personally still find it hard to understand its actual purpose apart from aesthetics. Both screens offer excellent visibility under harsh sunlight and good fluid touch response. However, accessing the climate control and a few other vehicle controls might require the driver to take his/her eyes off the road. That said, the sound quality is excellent and if you're an audiophile the Sport is going to plaster a smile on your face every day.
Seats at the front are brilliant in terms of support and cushioning and the rear bench too can accommodate two adults in good comfort and three for a brief duration. The last row, well there isn't one as the Sport is presently on sale in a five-seat configuration only in India.
There's the usual Land Rover Terrain Response System also with modes for different surfaces but we couldn't go off-road with the Sport during our test period. However, it's a Range Rover and has the same hardware and software that other SUVs have so you can be rest assured that when you do intend to go off-road the Sport is not going to disappoint you.
Range Rover Sport Price & Conclusion
The Range Rover Sport is priced between Rs 86.71 lakh (S) to Rs 1.05 crore (HSE), Ex-Showroom. The middle SE variant is priced at Rs 94.49 lakh, ex-showroom. Now at these prices, the Range Rover isn't exactly competitively priced but it is nonetheless the cheapest THE Range Rover you can buy. Despite a small engine, the Sport offers potent performance and good luxury along with a timeless design. Yes, it might not be the best in terms of Value-for-money but it's a proper no-compromise Range Rover and for many, that is all that matters!