The top-spec model is already faster than the outgoing SVR.
The first-generation Range Rover Sport was the first Land Rover product other than the full-size Range Rover to wear the coveted badge.
You have to wonder whether Land Rover used it as a proof of concept, hoping the car-buying public would be open to more Range Rover derivatives. They obviously were because now we already have the second-generation Evoque, first-generation Velar, and now the third-generation Range Rover Sport.
What makes the latest generation Sport special is that it was designed side-by-side with the new full-size Range Rover. Land Rover did a magnificent job of keeping it a secret. We first laid eyes on it more than a month ago, and we had to keep our phones in a locker for the day. That's how serious the British brand was about keeping it a secret.
But now we can reveal everything we know and why we think the new Sport has what it takes to take the fight directly to cars like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Porsche Cayenne.
The two new Range Rovers were created side-by-side to give the designers enough creative freedom to differentiate the two cars properly. This tactic worked beautifully.
Let's not beat around the bush. The new Sport is a stunning, elegant machine. Slightly less butch than its predecessors, but somehow more purposeful than ever before.
We love the front end. We're so happy Land Rover didn't follow the current design trend of adding a grille large enough to cool a container ship engine.
Other design differences include slimmer lights at the front and rear. The units at the rear wrap around slightly to increase the stance. One of the main design targets was a sporty stance, and Land Rover did a fantastic job.
The overall design is minimalist. If you boil the design down to a simple sketch, you see only three main lines; roofline, waistline, and the sill line. The waistline runs the entire length of the car, all the way from the clamshell bonnet to the rear, where the three lines meet.
Every design element on the new Sport is also flush. If you run your hands across the length of the car, you'll struggle to find a piece that sticks out. That translates to attention to detail, which is one of the hallmarks of luxury.
Two minor criticisms, however. The "Sport" badge on the trunk seems out of place. Why go through all the trouble of differentiating the car via intelligent and elegant design elements, only to paste a small, insignificant badge on the trunk.
The floating roof and windows are also highly susceptible to smudges. You just think of touching the tinted glass, and it smudges. Land Rover employed a man to clean the car, just for that one day. As soon as someone touched the car, he ran in and wiped the smudge away. We doubt smudge man will be an optional extra, so if you are interested in a Sport, just know that you'll be spending at least 15 minutes per day wiping smudges away.
The new Range Rover Sport will be available with four engines, all mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
The P360 is equipped with a turbocharged inline-six with a mild-hybrid system. It produces 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The P400 uses the same engine but is tuned to provide 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
The P440e is the plug-in hybrid option consisting of the turbocharged inline-six and an upgraded electric drive unit. It comes standard with a 31.8-kWh battery and an electric motor that produces 140 hp. Combined, the two power sources can shove the Sport to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. If you're not in a sporty mood, you can put it in EV mode, in which case it will cruise silently for 48 miles.
We happen to know that Land Rover is pretty concerned about the range, given the luxurious nature of the car. It has yet to be delivered to the EPA for a complete test, but the figure above is based on Land Rover testing the vehicle with all the luxury items switched on. It would rather underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around.
The 4.4-liter BMW-sourced twin-turbo (P530) puts the sport in Range Rover Sport. We'll miss the supercharged 5.0-liter's obnoxious soundtrack, but the BMW powertrain is more advanced and semi environmentally friendly.
The V8 produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The previous-generation SVR had 567 hp and 516 lb-ft on tap. That's not a big difference. In fact, the new V8 Sport is already faster than the outgoing SVR. It gets to 60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds.
There will be an SVR version of the new model, but obviously, Land Rover did not want to divulge too much information. It will make its debut in roughly 12 months, and the Range Rover Sport project manager told us that it would obviously have more power than the outgoing model.
We know BMW's twin-turbo V8 can be tuned to provide up to 627 hp without any hybrid assistance. Bolt an electric motor to the gearbox, and you can quickly get it to 700 hp.
The above is, of course, pure speculation, but SVR models have traditionally been stupidly powerful.
We went into the secret meeting thinking that Land Rover would finally ditch its obsession with making the Sport both capable on and off-road. We were wrong. According to Land Rover, its customers still demand the Sport be a proper off-roader and a decent canyon carver. All models come standard with an air suspension, supplemented with various other software systems that enhance the experience.
First, let's cover the off-road stuff. The Sport can clamber up a 45-degree gradient and wade through 900-mm of water. The Terrain Response system has been upgraded to six different driving modes, and each wheel has 50cm of wheel articulation.
Land Rover uses the Sport to debut the latest software upgrade to Terrain Response, called Adaptive Off-Road Cruise Control. It does the same job as non-off-road adaptive cruise control but comes with four comfort settings that adjust the speed according to the ground conditions. This allows the driver to focus on just pointing the car in the right direction.
Land Rover produced a short film called The Spillway to prove the car can still go off-road like a beast. It perfectly demonstrates what this car is capable of doing.
On the sporty side, the new Sport rides on the same all-new scalable architecture as the big Range Rover. The body is 35% stiffer than the outgoing model, and Land Rover claims lateral stiffness is on par with traditional sports cars. It did not reveal which sports car was used as a benchmark, but since it has a few F-Types lying around…
Owners can also take it further by ordering the Stormer Handling Package. This adds a Dynamic Mode to the Terrain Response, and it does all the things you'd expect from such a mode.
It makes the car louder, more responsive, stiffens the suspension, and more.
The navigation system and Terrain Response work hand-in-hand to set the car up for the road ahead. The GPS reads the road ahead by two miles and primes the suspension and gearbox for the upcoming twists and braking zones.
Suffice to say that the Sport will still be able to cover ground at an alarming pace, especially when equipped with the V8 engine.
We sat in the Sport for a decent amount of time, and it's good news. It has the now-standard minimalist Land Rover interior. It consists of a large Pivi-Pro 13.1-inch curved touchscreen interface with all the latest connectivity features and the climate control buttons directly below that. In front of the driver, there's a 13.7-inch interactive driver display.
The gear selector is a new stubby leather-clad unit, surrounded by all the essential Terrain Response and air suspension controls.
Quality-wise, it's a big step forward. The use of materials is spectacular and easily on par with the full-size Range Rover.
Naturally, luxury was a top priority, and luckily Land Rover still understands the definition of luxury. It's not about how many screens you can fit in the car, or how innovative the voice control is. Luxury is about space, air, and silence.
The Sport appears to be quite spacious, but we'll wait until the taller members of our crew have had a chance to drive it before we reach a verdict. As for air, each model has a large panoramic sunroof. It allows natural light to enter the cabin, which adds to the overall feeling of well-being.
And then we get to silence.
Land Rover uses a 29-speaker Meridian sound system designed specifically for the Sport to combat road noise. There's a microphone in each wheel well, and it records the frequency of the sound. The speakers within the headrests then emit a counter noise to cancel the exterior noise.
There are two other highlights worth mentioning.
Both cars had light interior leather, with a blacked-out rear center seat. This gives the interior that coveted four-seater grand touring appearance without losing any practicality. Smart move, Land Rover.
The second thing we noticed was the placement of the power bulges on the hood. Usually, the hood tapers downward, making it harder to place a big car like the Sport. You can see the power bulges from behind the wheel, and they align perfectly with the headlights.
This should make it much easier to place the Sport on the road, as it gives you a much more unambiguous indication of where the wheels are.
We'd say it also helps with parking, but the new Sport has all kinds of sensors and can park itself. You can even get out and let it park itself via an app on your phone.
The Range Rover Sport is expensive compared to the outgoing model, its direct rivals, and even the large-body Range Rover.
The new P360 SE costs $83,000, increasing to $90,000 for the P400 SE Dynamic. A plug-in hybrid in Autobiography trim goes for $104,200, while the P530 First Edition retails for $121,500.
By comparison, the previous-generation P360, with the same engine, cost $71,000. Excluding the SVR, the Range Rover Sport model line-up ended with the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 Autobiography, which only just breached the $100k mark.
The P530 is more expensive than the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 and the BMW X5 M. Porsche's class-leading Cayenne Turbo is more costly, however.
We think the Sport's main rival will be the full-fat Range Rover, which starts at $104,000. There's a lot of overlap between the Sport and the mid-range P530 SE, which uses the same BMW-sourced V8 you'll find in the Sport.
Yes, the Sport will be sportier, but nothing beats a big-body Range Rover if you want to make a statement.
Land Rover's order books opened as this article went live, and you can go and play on the configurator. The first orders will arrive late in the year, possibly early in 2023.
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