In what could be called reverse colonialism, an Indian company now owns one of the UK’s most iconic automakers. Back when the sun never set on the empire, Britain developed massive amounts of industry in India, and one of the companies that benefitted the most was Tata Steel Limited, a subsidiary of the Tata Group. Fast forward to today and Tata just so happens to be the current owner of Jaguar Land Rover. See how things came full circle?
Engine: 5.0-liter Supercharged V8 makes 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque.
Fuel Economy: 14 MPG City, 19 MPG Highway, 16 MPG Combined.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Price: Base starts at $64,450. Priced at $83,010 as tested.
And while some would argue British treatment of its Indian “subjects” wasn’t so kind, Tata has taken good care of Jaguar Land Rover, with both companies currently producing an excellent crop of vehicles with some new gems just over the horizon. The extensive use of aluminum in vehicles is one of the tenets of the new Jaguar Land Rover, and the new 2014 Range Rover Sport benefitted massively from the lightweight material.
Less Weight Means More Fun
In total, nearly 800 pounds were shaved from the RR Sport, bringing the curb weight of the 2014 model to 5092 pounds. And with motivation coming from a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 510 hp and 461lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, this SUV jumps to speed with the sort of haste one doesn’t expect from such a large vehicle. It feels easily on par, if not faster, than any AMG SUV. The official specs put the 0 to 60 mph time at 5.0 seconds flat. Better yet, the Range Rover Sport is more than just a straight line performer. When the road gets twisty, this SUV gets fun.
An air suspension system found standard on the Supercharged model allows the Range Rover to be switched into dynamic mode, stiffening it up considerably and accenting the power perfectly. Combine this feature with brake torque vectoring, active lean control and a dynamic active rear locking differential and there’s a feeling of complete confidence, even when this British brute is hauling ass through a corner. In addition, the throttle becomes quite a bit more aggressive and the shifts from the eight-speed automatic are more immediate, while the exhuast note grows to a powerful growl. The steering tightens up nicely too, although the smooth nature of this cruiser means that feedback from the wheel still isn’t at sports car levels. Still, the Sport moniker is most definitly justified now, thanks to the amazing handling this SUV offers.
On the opposite end of dynamic mode, the air suspension also allows the Range Rover Sport to be a strong off-roader. Wheel travel is marked at 260 mm in the front and 272 mm at the rear, while maximum ground clearance sits at 278 mm. Thanks to full-time all-wheel drive and a dynamic terrain response system, this Range Rover seems equally adept off road as it does on. Fording streams and climbing on uneven, muddy terrain never leaves you doubting this SUV. A rotary dial complete with sand, snow and mud settings is also present, adapting all four wheels to best suit the terrain.
And maybe best of all, when you’re not in full on race mode or climbing the cliffs, regular old ‘Drive’ is supremely comfortable, with very little road noise of any kind sneaking into the cabin. Fuel economy comes in at 14 MPG in the city, 19 on the highway and 16 MPG combined, which my test drive affirmed with a 17 MPG average at the end of a week.
Simply put, driving the Range Rover, whether it be on the highway in the city or through the mud, is exceptional. Moving inside, a gorgeous interior greets you, though my tester did have one frustrating problem that overshadowed many of the positives found in the SUV.
Elegant Interior, Frustrating Issues
British vehicles have never been known for having the best electronics and here’s one more story to perpetuate the stereotype. The mirror adjustment in our RR Sport seemed to have a mind of its own. Sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn’t. In a brand new car that takes such a large chunk of your bank account away, a problem like this shouldn’t occur. A quick internet search turned up no results, so this appears to be an isolated issue.
Old clunky electronics also power the vehicle’s infotainment system, which, unlike the Range Rover itself, is never in a hurry. Lag torments you as you try and navigate the screens quickly.
Once you have finally reached your media of choice, everything else about this interior is marvellous. The quality is great, the design is elegant, and the overall feeling is one of simple luxury, with simple smooth surfaces found all around.
That simplistic feel of the interior design flows straight through to the outside. Nothing is ostentatious about the Range Rover, it looks both regal and reserved. Compared to the full size Range Rover, the Sport gets a great swept back flowing roofline that helps to give it a muscular and athletic appearance.
Pricing for the Range Rover Sport starts at $64,450 when powered by a V6 engine in SE trim, but our Supercharged version with a few options came in at just over $83,000. That is actually quite a bit cheaper than the Mercedes ML63 AMG, which goes for about $98,000. From BMW, we have the X5 M, which also sells for over $90,000, once again making the Range Rover Sport seem like a bargain, although both of its German competitors are a bit faster. On the flip side, the Range Rover is undercut by the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, nicely optioned units of which sell for $72,400.
That American competitor definitely feels like it can keep up with the Range Rover on the street, but when the pavement ends the RR Sport has the clear advantage, and that goes for the German competition as well.
The reinvention of Jaguar Land Rover since its days of Ford ownership is well underway, and products like the new Range Rover Sport prove it. A smooth ride when you’re with the family, a raucous hooligan when you want to have fun and a mountain goat on the trails when you want to go exploring. This may just be one of the best one-size fits all vehicles around.