The new Range Rover Sport has been revised for 2011 and it’s had more than a facelift because there are some significant changes beneath the skin with a modified, more powerful, more efficient turbodiesel engine.
There are two improved engines on offer including a 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel and a range-topping 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 which generates 503bhp and can make 0-62mph in five seconds.
When a car is labelled ‘Sport’ it’s no longer the case that’s it’s all about performance and the new engines not only boast substantial increases in power and torque but also lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption.
Changes to the chassis include Active Damping and a full Brembo brake system that does a great job of bringing the burly Range Rover to a quick stop.
Taking all that was good about the mighty Range Rover and, through the work of the designers, presenting a slightly more youthful appearance, it sought to tempt buyers away from rival offerings that were perceived to be more contemporary in looks and image.
And highlighting the youthful angle is appropriate considering Land Rover has updated its junior Range Rover. It’s also appropriate that the car’s visual appearance has changed slightly. Call it a nip and tuck if you like, the Sport’s nose has been softened. Gone is the stark radiator grille, in its place a more cohesive nose and bumper arrangement. The Front and rear lights are now LED - with a smoked-effect finish at the back and subtle daytime running lights.
These details all amount to a sleeker, less fussy and more sophisticated ‘look’, and one that does much to help promote Land Rover’s desire to be viewed as a smart, fashionable brand.
The changes continue inside, with the focus very much on improving the car’s premium ambience. Gone is the dark plastic centre console, in its place a soft touch, colour coordinated central fascia. There’s upgraded leather on the seats, soft-touch textiles and the array of electronic equipment including the adoption of a TFT colour screen.
Other new toys include five cameras to assist with parking which provide a 360-degree view of the car when reversing. There’s also a system that detects oncoming cars and dips the headlights for you. There’s a clever multimedia system with screens for back seat passengers and there are heated and cooled seats all round.
Indeed, the Sport’s cabin is now on a par with that of a conventional executive saloon. It’s certainly spacious enough, while the Sport’s trump card - lofty driving position - will likely be a deal-clincher for some.
Of course, one pretty important reason to get the Sport over any conventional saloon is the car’s all-weather and all-terrain ability. For some the latter will rarely be exploited, yet the underlying ability is nothing short of breath-taking.
It’s helped in no small way by the Sport’s engine line-up. Predictably diesel dominates here, and while the beefy Supercharged petrol V8 is now faster and more powerful (and cleaner, too) it’s the new TDV6 motor that’s destined to grab all the headlines.
The flagship TDV8 might offer lots of power and torque, but the TDV6 delivers an experience that might be close enough for some.
Punchy when it comes to overtaking and powering out of corners yet quiet on the motorway, this new TDV6 puts the ‘lesser’ diesel Sport back on the map.
Of course all this power makes off-roading a breeze. The smooth auto gearbox makes life inching over obstacles easy enough for novices to feel confident, while the various electronic aids help take your mind of the complicated stuff and allows you to concentrate on the muddy track ahead.
Land Rover’s now familiar Terrain Response system really does make off-roading a doddle. Simply dial up the terrain - mud, snow, sand etc - and transmission, differential and suspension settings are taken care of and adjusted when necessary. It’s no wonder the car is popular when off-roading is made this civilised.
And that’s certainly a good way to sum up the Range Rover Sport: civilised. With the premium ambience ratcheted up a few more notches and the car’s already peerless off-roading given a further polish, you don’t need to look anywhere else as nothing comes close.