The V8-engined Range Rover Sport will play a bit part when it comes to sales, but the car that crowns the range shows fully just how broad the new model’s range of abilities is. It’s fast – even fun – but balances this with character and class, riding and handling sweetly. Combined with tech inside to rival Tesla and a newfound level of quality from Land Rover, and this third iteration of the Range Rover Sport is a fine SUV.
While electrification might be the big story for the new Range Rover Sport, the fact that this third-generation car has returned with V8 power is also worthy of attention, because this new motor means that the V8-powered Sport is actually as fast as the old SVR but 17 per cent more efficient than its predecessor.
The source of this newfound ability is one of Land Rover‘s rivals, BMW, with the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8’s arrival part of a powertrain deal the two companies signed. It replaces the old supercharged 5.0-litre V8, so has the new Range Rover Sport lost some character in this transition? Not at all.
While turbocharging can often suppress noise, there’s still the right level of it here. A V8’s chorus could soon be a thing of the past, so to celebrate it while it’s around is great.
Car group tests
In fact, this 4.4 V8 has never sounded so good. There’s just enough bassy rumble in Dynamic mode to be present but not intrusive, adding to the experience under hard acceleration.
The motor packs huge punch, and with 527bhp and 750Nm of torque will propel the Range Rover Sport from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds thanks to impressive traction from the all-wheel drive system.
We’d like the eight-speed automatic transmission’s shifts to be a little snappier, but the smoothness on offer as it shuffles between ratios adds to the refinement. Most of the time this will be a big positive, with the V8’s note settling down to a subtle burble on a cruise.
We can’t fault the engine’s response or its flexibility; there’s little turbo lag and it pulls from low down with real urgency, revving hard in the mid-range and crescendoing to deliver some high-rev thrills too. Put simply, while a £100k-plus V8 SUV like this one might seem an expensive indulgence in 2022, there’s no denying it feels special.
A good chunk of that is down to the chassis too, and Land Rover’s engineering team at its Gaydon HQ has thrown everything at the car to really give it a dynamic character and ability to rival the likes of the Porsche Cayenne.
Even though the hardware is impressive (which we’ll come to in a moment) it’s how each and every system has been tuned and calibrated to work alongside one another that really impresses.
You get a proportionate response to your inputs from every area of the car, and equipped with the Stormer Handling Pack – which groups together the 48-volt active anti-roll control, all-wheel steering, an electronically controlled active diff with torque vectoring and configurable dynamics programmes – it offers a well-judged balance between handling ability and on-road comfort and refinement.
There’s great traction and a subtle adjustability to the chassis on the road. Combined with the front axle’s ability to control roll and absorb bumps in corners, the Sport feels stable and grippy.
Our £116,190 First Edition model is equipped with 23-inch wheels, and even on these huge rims the Sport’s ride comfort is impressive. In Comfort the car glides over the majority of bad bumps, with only ruffled sections of tarmac disrupting its languid ride and smooth suspension damping. It even rounds the harsher reactions to these surfaces nicely too, delivering a layer of luxurious refinement.
It doesn’t change drastically when you dial up the Dynamic setting either, with the same characteristics to the chassis seemingly moved up the scale a notch. It’s a pointer that the tech that’s gone into the new Range Rover Sport – and the treatment of it by those who worked on the car’s development – is right where it needs to be. It’s also proof that personality can shine through in a car’s dynamic window.
Much of the Range Rover Sport’s personality also comes from its looks. While we’ll leave you to decide on the effectiveness of the design, the reductionism theme first seen on the new Range Rover certainly gives the car a striking appearance; it’s recognisably a Range Rover Sport reinvented for a new decade.
The same is true inside, where the cabin is beautifully trimmed, some nasty plastic for the speaker pods on the doors notwithstanding.
But other sumptuous materials that feel good for even the lofty price tag of this top-spec test car help. It nails Land Rover’s ‘Modern Luxury’ brief inside – and the tech is a big part of that.
Both the 13.7-inch digital dash and the 13.1-inch touchscreen are super-sharp. The Pivi Pro infotainment backs this up with great functionality and freeze-free use – not something that could be said of Land Rover’s last-generation infotainment system.
Practicality is also sound. While there’s not as much space as a full-size Range Rover, by any other standard the Sport offers plenty of passenger room; leg and headroom in the rear simply aren’t an issue, while the 647-litre boot backs this up with plenty of practicality.
Plus a powered tailgate is standard on top of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, wireless phone charging, a head-up display, full keyless go, loads of driver assistance and convenience tech, electrically adjustable heated and vented massage seats trimmed in luxurious leather, and plenty more besides. Put simply, First Edition trims comes equipped with everything you could need, want or pretty much think of, as you’d expect.
The downside is that fuel economy isn’t great. Even though this new engine offers significant efficiency improvements over its predecessor – also helped by the new platform – with claims of 24.5mpg and 261g/km of CO2 emissions it won’t be cheap to run. And you’ll not likely get near that either, especially if you start to indulge in that V8 soundtrack regularly. And we couldn’t blame you if you did.
|Model:||Range Rover Sport P530 First Edition|
|Engine:||4.4-litre twin-turbo V8|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|