The secret to the new Sport’s weight-loss is the automotive equivalent of the Atkins’. But instead of low carbs, it’s aluminum. Gone is the lardy steel body and chassis; in its place is a waif-like aluminum unibody structure that uses high-strength alloys joined together with glue and rivets – just like the fuselage of a Boeing jet airliner.
But this new Sport is much, much more than last year’s model on an Oprah weight-loss program. It’s all-new from the tires up with a fresh new look, lots of fancy new technology
and a classy, uber-upscale interior with more rear-seat space and – a first for a
Range Rover – third-row seating. Well, sort of!
See it on the street and it looks like a longer, sleeker, more pumped-up version of Range Rover’s mid-sized Evoque. It’s a gorgeous, sexy shape that, standing still, looks like its doing 100 mph. Check the box for the optional 22-inch alloys and it screams ‘Hot Wheels.’
And Hot Wheels is a perfect way to describe how this new Sport drives.
Jettisoned is the previous 5.0-liter V8, replaced by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 packing 340 horsepower. It’s the same buttery-smooth mill that powers Jaguar’s new F-Type sports car
but tuned to punch out more low-speed muscle.
It’s just a superb engine; potent enough to serve-up standstill-to-60 mph sprinting in under seven seconds and a 155 mph top speed, all while delivering an impressive 23 mpg highway economy and 17 mpg around town.
But if you want more sport in your Sport, there’s really only one choice; the thundering supercharged 5.0-liter V8. It cranks out a massive 510 horses along with a sound track that wouldn’t be out of place on the high banking at Daytona!
Pedal to the metal, it can rocket the Sport from zero to 60 mph in an insane 4.9 seconds and have you screaming “Whooa Nelly” as you lunge past slower traffic.
But while the big V8 grabs all the headlines with its Deep Throat soundtrack, for daily driving the V6 makes more sense. I’ve just spent a week with a V6 Supercharged and was more than happy with its 340-horse output. There’s tons of low speed muscle to power away from stoplights or pass slower traffic, and that eight-speed auto is super-responsive to calls for downshifts.
It’s beautifully refined too, even under foot-to-the-floor acceleration.
Of course we could write a book on the Sport’s off-road capability. Even though 99.9 percent of buyers will never put a tire in mud, it’s Land Rover’s mantra to ensure the Sport has the capability to climb Everest after first plugging its way through an Amazonian rain forest!
With an improved version of Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response system – it features a new idiot-proof ‘Auto’ mode – plus the ability to wade through water three-feet deep, there really ain’t no mountain high enough the range Rover Sport can’t tackle.
But even more impressive is its capability on-road. The old cliché about the Range Rover Sport putting the sport in sport-utility really does apply. Its new electric-assist steering coupled with active-roll control, plus a body shell that’s 25 percent stiffer, only heightens the Sport’s dynamic, super-responsive handling.
Inside, there’s even more luxury and class lathered into the ritzy cabin. It looks and feels like
a smaller version of the flagship Range Rover Autobiography with rich, thick leather
trim and gorgeous piano-black accents.
And stretching the wheelbase by seven inches has done wonders for rear seat space. The back seats now offer four inches of fore and aft travel, they recline, and tip forward to offer access to a couple of teeny though usable-at-a-stretch third-row seats.
Price-wise, the ‘14 Sport starts at $63,495 for the base SE with a 3.0 V6, and soars to $93,295 for the Autobiography with that awesome 5.0-liter V8. As for losing 800 pounds of flab and creating arguably the world’s most dynamic, agile and capable sporting SUV? Priceless!
NOTE: “I want one,” adds Chronicles Editor Marty Schorr, right, after driving a Fuji White Sport in Arizona desert country. “SUV? As far as I’m concerned, it’s a go-anywhere-you-want luxury sports sedan. And, while I’m a diehard no-replacement-for-displacement V8 guy, the RR Sports’ supercharged V6 sounds great and delivers that perfect storm of performance and fuel economy.”
For the latest on Range Rover performance-luxury SUVs, please visit http://www.landrover.com/us/en/lr/