|The Sport, my tester of the week, is the older sibling's little brother gone wild. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)|
If you drive a new Land or Range Rover, chances are you're a notch above most, financially at least, and if not physically, you probably can afford to change that. LRs and RRs are a status symbol that leave no doubt in people's minds about your sophistication and panache. A less refined person would opt for an Escalade, or a more excitable one, a Porsche Cayenne.
The Range Rover, the real one, is a regal affair from any and all angles. The Sport, my tester of the week, is the older sibling's little brother gone wild. On ‘roids when Supercharged. Mine was.
Not quite as statuesque as the Rover, the Sport trades distinction for aggressiveness and brashness. Lower, making it look wider when it is not, the Sport looks ready to pounce in a nanosecond's notice. And it does. Standard on the Supercharged are Style 6 20” alloy wheels. Although I prefer the Stormer Style 2 model, these monstrous pieces of alloy and rubber effortlessly rotate as though they were 10” wheels found on an original Mini.
The Supercharged 5.0L V8 (replacing the 4.2L V8) is truly gifted. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1, it lashes out at the road with 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. Superchargers usually whine but this one does not complain. As your right foot firmly reaches the firewall, yourself, your passengers and the 2,644-kg (5,816-lb) truck will reach, from a standstill, 100 km/h in the bat of an eyelash over 6 seconds. Insane!
It almost seems impossible, but the 6-speed transmission makes it all happen without fuss. It slides into one gear after the other and the train just keeps on going. With this kind of forward momentum, this truck needs some serious stopping power. Sporting 380-mm and 365-mm vented discs front and rear, respectively, the Sport comes to a standstill with surprising bite.
|The Supercharged 5.0L V8 (replacing the 4.2L V8) is truly gifted. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)|
The Range Rover Sport is not all about performance, by the way. The four-corner air suspension with Terrain Response is standard. This system caters to all forms of terrain and to all of the driver's moods. As sophisticated and complete as they get, Terrain Response will allow you to select amongst no fewer than six modes, from desert to snow and everything in between. Suspension height and firmness can also be adjusted.
|The four-corner air suspension with Terrain Response is standard. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)|
If you feel as though you want to be cajoled, done. Should you prefer to go rock climbing, done. It really is all quite impressive. Steering is fairly rapid with a heavy comforting weight to it; precision with ample feedback regardless of what you are doing are always on tap.
Driving the Sport Supercharged goes to your head. On your average day, no one can touch you as you rocket by others or climb over them if you wanted to. That is unless you run out of gas and stop to fill up. This V8 loves the juice and is seriously addicted to it. My 500-km mixed driving week returned an average of—hold on—18L per 100 km. That means I used all of my 88 litres (tank capacity) in one week.
Back to getting light-headed... The Range Rover's got one of the most original and plush cabins this side of Jaguar. Not only is the design and layout unique in many ways, but the materials used are beyond sumptuous. Starting with the seats, the passengers will likely never want to sit in their grubby econobox ever again. They are comfortable and supportive and depending on the chosen colour combination (Ivory/Ocean for me thank you), could be part of a display in an art museum.
The dashboard is far more flowing in the Sport compared to the Big Rover. Controls remain typically large, however it will take a short period of time to locate where everything is the first time you step on board. The touch-screen navigation and subsequent menus are sometimes confusing and not very intuitive but in the end, it all works. Two thumbs up for the large steering wheel which falls well in hand, and the abundance of redundant controls that will uncork a champagne bottle if you can figure out the right sequence.
|The dashboard is far more flowing in the Sport compared to the Big Rover. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)|
There are few complaints to be made when it comes to a vehicle like this. The worse would be that the rear door openings are extremely narrow and make ingress and egress quite a chore. And forget about getting out with grace and style and not getting dirty in the winter.
Shortcoming or shortcomings (fuel consumption, but then again, you would be loaded...) aside, this truck is actually somewhat of a bargain. At $88,980 base price, the Sport Supercharged undercuts nearly every luxury and performance SUV. Only the aforementioned Escalade (in the 400+hp club) is less pricey at just under $80k. Let's agree that we're comparing a pineapple and a peach...
|At $88,980 base price, the Sport Supercharged undercuts nearly every luxury and performance SUV. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com)|
The Cayenne Turbo is the most worthy opponent to the Sport Supercharged, but its entry price is shy of $120,000. As tested, with optional leather, adaptive cruise control and other goodies, the tally was a tad over $95,000. A bargain I tell ya!
A good buddy and fellow auto journo said something about the Range Rover and he enjoys them as much as I do: "These vehicles do depreciate faster than they accelerate". It is a fact of life that gas-guzzling, high-end luxury SUVs have a tough time maintaining their resale value. That does mean though that a used 2011 RR SS could be in your future 3 years from now!
Porsche vs Range Rover: your call. Right now, at this very moment, 'cause it could change, I'd go for the RR.