All-round vision is good, only sometimes in town because of the ride height
Ride and Handling
We drove the Range Rover Sport from Devon to Northumbria on a mixture of Motorway, ‘A’ roads and country ‘B’ roads.
The air-suspension always takes some time to get used to and at first it can make you feel a little queasy, especially on ‘B’ roads when pressing on – but you soon get used to this and it makes easy work of soaking up poor road surfaces. There is a dynamic suspension mode and this does seem to make a difference to the Sport, but ultimately it is body roll that hinders progress, and although it is not that bad, it is where you start to lose feedback even though there still seems plenty of grip. None of this is going to bother you in the slightest if you do not want to try and keep up with some annoying hot hatch on a twisty demanding ‘B’ road.
Although the Range Rover Sport is surprisingly nimble for such a large, heavy car and given empty country roads, it can be driven with some enthusiasm and vigour – the brakes are also reassuring. On the TDV6 models they are 4 piston 360mm ventilated discs on the front, the petrol model gets larger discs and 6 pistons to command the extra speed. I would have been happier if the larger system was fitted to the TDV6 as well, it does take some effort to stop the vehicle from speed.
The Range Rover Sport can keep up through the bends with the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne and the BMW X5, but both are subjectively better to drive on-road – where off road the Sport is in a completely different league.
Off Road Use
We were unable to test the Range Rover Sport too far off road – we were limited to green lanes and several forest tracks – where to be honest in the dry most two wheel drive cars would cope.
The Sport is fitted with Land Rover’s Terrain Response System which takes away the manual selection of ride height, differential locks and gearbox ratios. The driver simply chooses one of five terrain settings via a rotary dial on the centre console: there is a normal driving program, plus one for slippery conditions (known as grass/gravel/snow) and three special modes, namely mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl. Terrain Response then automatically selects the most appropriate settings for the vehicle's advanced electronic controls and traction aids. The vehicle functions controlled by Terrain Response include ride height, engine torque response, Hill Descent Control (which limits downhill speed), Electronic Traction Control, transmission and differential settings.
Land Rover has now added Hill Start Assist which retains the initial driver-generated brake pressure, long enough for the foot to move from brake pedal to throttle without the car rolling backwards. The brake is released after a sufficient time has elapsed or when the engine is supplying enough torque to move the car up the hill.
Gradient Acceleration Control is designed to provide safety cover on severe gradients when the driver does not have Hill Descent Control engaged. By pressurising the brake system, Gradient Acceleration Control slows the car to a limit determined by the throttle position when the car is descending the slope in the driver’s intended direction of travel. This includes descending the slope forwards in drive, or rearwards in reverse. Otherwise (such as descending while facing up the gradient with Drive selected) Gradient Acceleration Control restricts speed to 3.1mph for up to 20 seconds, allowing the driver to regain proper control.
Ease of Use
Getting in and out the Sport is a fairly easy affair, especially if you remember to lower the suspension before you exit the car.
All-round vision is good, only sometimes in town because of the ride height could you miss shorter road users, i.e. children as they are below your normal line of vision, so you do need to take extra care. Our test car was fitted with the £715 Surround Camera System which gives an overhead view around the car; you can zoom in or focus on one camera, which is excellent for hooking up the horse box or trying to get between two gate posts. It also aids parking in tight spots, so no more excuses for not being perfectly parallel in a supermarket parking space.
The Range Rover Sport has a foot print of 4783mm x 1932mm x 1784mm – which compares to the BMW X5’s 4854mm x 1933mm x 1766mm.
There is a new lightweight aluminium single piece powered tailgate operated by the button located on the fascia, the key fob or tailgate, the lift height can now be set by simply holding the tailgate at the desired height and pressing the tailgate button for 10 seconds. The height can be overridden to accommodate other drivers, providing effortless use and greater convenience to the user. In some ways we would have preferred a split-tailgate, which is ideal for keeping dogs in when accessing the boot, etc.
The luggage space although deep and fairly wide is very shallow, only allowing in height for one sport’s type bag. Land Rover quotes 958 litres with the rear seats up and 2013 litres with all the seats down. It can tow braked trailers up to the weight of 3500 kg – the gross weight is 3175kg, kerb 2535kg.
Ultimately it feels a little cramped in the front of the cabin and the transmission tunnel intrudes into the driver and passenger space. The shoulder room is not that great for a relatively large car, I cannot say it was uncomfortable just noticeable.