BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
The post-2014 Range Rover Sport had all-aluminium monocoque body structure in which the joints in the shell were riveted and bonded together using aerospace techniques. Significant upgrades were announced in late 2016 and again in mid-2018
Combined body/chassis weight was lower by up to 39 percent (420kg) compared with the previous steel semi-monocoque-plus-chassis frame design that the Sport shared with the Discovery 4.
There were also new, lightweight front and rear suspensions, with all-aluminium front and rear subframes, and lightweight aluminium final drive units. The tailgate was formed from SMC plastic.
For the first time the Sport was available with third-row occasional seating.
The Range Rover Sport had an enhanced line-up of petrol and diesel engines, all paired with an advanced ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. The petrol engines were a new 250kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and the carry-over 375kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8, with a new Bosch engine management system.
The 3.0-litre V6 sequentially-charged turbo-diesel was upgraded and fitted with twin intercoolers and a Stop/Start system. It was available in 190kW and 215kW power settings, both with 600Nm of torque.
Scheduled to make its return to the Range Rover Sport line-up, the 4.4-litre 250kW SDV8 diesel had 700Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000rpm.
For the first time, the Range Rover Sport could be ordered with an optional single-speed transfer case instead of the standard two-speed transmission.
Pricing of Australian-market Range Rover Sport models spanned the $90,900 (high range gearing only) to $233,500 zone. The lowest priced model with low-range gearing was $113,600.
Range Rover was playing the options game, because the base model lacked much of the ‘fruit’ you got in top-shelf Japanese and Korean soft-roaders that were half the Rangie Sport’s price.
The 2017 Range Rover Sport was the first full-sized Land Rover to feature a four-cylinder diesel engine: a two-litre, 177kW SD4 Ingenium replaced the TDV6
S in the base-model Rangie Sport. This engine was the first Land Rover engine with series-sequential turbo technology.
With 177kW and 500Nm of torque,
it had claimed fuel consumption of 6.2l/100km on the EU combined cycle.
The Ingenium diesel engine was available on five-seat vehicles fitted with either coil or air suspension. Vehicles fitted with the new engine were distinguished
by a single twin-pipe exhaust.
A P400e plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain with a 51km all-electric range was also introduced in the UK in 2017.
Advanced Tow Assist technology was the latest autonomous technology to be introduced by Land Rover. Images from a rear-facing camera were relayed to the central touchscreen, allowing the driver to indicate the desired direction of the trailer using the Terrain Response 2 rotary controller. The vehicle should then have autonomously steered the trailer into place and all the driver had to do was operate the accelerator and brake pedals.
Low Traction Launch was a new system that assisted the driver when pulling away from a standstill on low grip surfaces, such as mud, wet grass or ice,
by limiting the amount of torque the driver is able to apply by pressing the accelerator.
One of the most significant features of the post-2017 Range Rover Sport was the introduction of InControl Touch Pro, with a larger, 10-inch central touchscreen
display. The TFT Virtual Instrument Panel allowed drivers to choose full or partial satellite navigation information.
One of the key aspects of InControl Touch Pro was the ability to pinch and zoom when navigating maps, or swipe through menu screens as you would on a smartphone
or tablet. There were apps for functions such as music playback, contacts and calendars that were mirrored on the central touchscreen when the driver’s
smartphone was connected to the vehicle.
The optional Pro Services system allowed customers to download apps and install them directly to the vehicle’s InControl Touch Pro system, rather than
being used through their smartphone and included live data such as weather reports and a flight tracker.
InControl Remote Premium allowed drivers to control a number of vehicle functions remotely using the dedicated smartphone app. Owners could check data
such as the mileage or fuel level, lock and unlock the vehicle and even adjust the climate control settings.
The Commute Mode part of Pro Services was an intuitive function that learned regular journeys so customers didn’t have to set a destination manually. It
recognised common trips and automatically redirected the driver if the regular route was congested. Door-to-door routing allowed the customer to set
a route using the Land Rover app and transfer it to the vehicle. Once the vehicle was parked, final directions to the destination could be viewed on
a smartphone so customers could complete their journey on foot.
All models had Rear Park Distance Control, Cruise Control, Speed Limiter and Lane Departure Warning. For 2017 Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) joined
that list. The system monitored the surroundings and warned the driver if a collision was imminent, before intervening and braking if the driver failed
to apply the brakes sufficiently.
The optional Drive Pack contained all the standard features in addition to Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection. Driver Condition Monitor was
another new addition. It analysed steering inputs and took into account factors such as the time of day and journey time to warn the driver if signs
of fatigue were detected.
The Drive Pro Pack included Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist and Intelligent Emergency Braking and added Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist
for 2017. Blind Spot Assist monitored for vehicles approaching from behind or those in Range Rover Sport’s blind spot. If the driver began to change
lanes in circumstances that could pose a risk of a collision, the vehicle automatically applied a steering input to prevent an accident. Lane Keep
Assist provided corrective steering inputs if the driver veered out of a lane without indicating.
In mid-2018 Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go was introduced. This enabled the vehicle to maintain
a set distance from the car in front and to follow it to a stop and pull away again, if stationary for less than three seconds.
On and off road
We borrowed a base-model MY 2014 TDV6 Sport with single-speed transfer case for evaluation and took it over our test circuit. As we expected, the latest Sport raised the refinement bar for the Range Rover brand and it certainly felt lighter than its predecessor.
The test vehicle had options that included a gloss black roof, with black roof liner inside and powered front seats . The Sport had excellent fit and finish and nary a squeak or rattle.
Handling was brilliant, but we felt that the on-bitumen ride was a tad firm, with damping that seemed to lock-down the suspension too much. Maybe more bump damping was needed, with less rebound effort. On dirt, at gradually increasing speeds, the balance was ideal and a well-driven Sport would make a very rapid point to point bush traveller, if the fancy 19-inch wheel and tyre package was up to the job. There’s not a lot of LT tyre choice in this rim size.
Rangies have legendary off-road abilities, but the TDV6 model’s single-speed transfer case limited its rock-hopping powers considerably. Standard air suspension allowed a useful ride-height increase, but at the expense of spring rate that stiffened the suspension and restricted compliance with the terrain.
Anyone wanting traditional Range Rover off-road performance needs to opt for one of the more expensive Sport models that have two-speed transfer cases and preferably with an optional rear axle diff lock.
Ambience was relaxed, the sound system was soothing and ergonomics were superb – with only one exception. Form has overridden function of the gear selector’s ‘trigger’ that needs to be depressed before moving the lever. Unfortunately, the trigger is a slippery, convex thing that makes quick gear changes – reverse to drive for example – tricky, to say the least. In concert with a stop-start engine function that kills the donk at inopportune times, the new lever design is a literal pain and needs to be revised.
Check out the video:
Our next test Rangie Sport was fitted with optional low range gearing and we took it to our rocky test climb for an evaluation. The gearing certainly made a difference in gradeability, but the stiff suspension and low-profile tyres were still limiting factors.
The Sport would have had more ability with an optional rear diff lock fitted, but it’s never going to be an ideal bush machine – too many on-road-handling compromises have been made.
Check out our rock-climbing video:
The market’s first PHEV 4WD
We’re used to the fact that all 4WD initiatives come from the Land Rover/Range Rover stable, because that’s the way it’s been since 1948.
We’re not saying that the products from Solihull have been the best made and the most reliable, but they’ve innovated: car-like fitments, automatic transmissions, coil suspension, air suspension, terrain response, hill descent control… the list goes on.
It’s fitting, therefore, that the first plug-in hybrid-electric 4WD – a ‘real’ 4WD, with ground clearance and low-range gearing, not an SUV – was the Range Rover Sport.
We borrowed a press-test Range Sport P400e PHEV for an evaluation and we can see how this powertrain could bring electrification to the Australian 4WD scene, without introducing so-called ‘range anxiety’.
The Sport 400e test vehicle was an HSE, fitted with low-range gearing and height-adjustable air suspension, but unfortunately sat on 21-inch road-only tyres.
This rubber could not be risked on our mild off-road circuit, coupled with the fact that the hybrid package included replacement of the spare wheel by a stack of lithium batteries. There was no spare wheel and tyre; just a can of gorilla snot and a small air compressor.
We confined our testing to on-road, but that gave us plenty of opportunity to check out the viability of the hybrid system.
Like all current PHEVs the Range Sport version was a ‘mild’ hybrid. That meant it had a powerful internal combustion (IC) engine – a 221kW, two-litre turbocharged petrol four in this case – driving through a 76kW/240Nm electric ‘sandwich’ to a conventional automatic transmission (ZF eight speed).
The limited battery capacity of mild hybrids confines them to around 50km range on electric power alone, after which the petrol engine becomes the primary power source, with additional input from the electric motor.
Because an electric motor delivers maximum torque constantly from zero revs an electric motor is a potent contributor to acceleration and hill-climbing ability. It also means that the IC engine doesn’t need to be tuned for low-speed torque as well as high-speed horsepower, because the electric motor can fill in the torque gap at low IC engine speeds.
That’s how it worked in the Range Rover Sport PHEV that performed much better than two-litre turbo-petrol power would suggest, when solo and also when towing.
The combined petrol-electric hybrid package boasted 297kW and 640Nm, so it was right up there with the best wagon performers. Overtaking acceleration was breathtaking.
We drove it around town, on a 600km return country trip as a solo vehicle and did a towing stint on secondary bitumen and smooth gravel roads. The overall economy worked out at 6L/100km, including some short trips that were completed without the IC engine’s turning on.
When towing and driving briskly with a combination of IC and electric power the economy averaged 10-12L/100km. That’s in the very best diesel 4WD league.
We charged it for nothing during daylight
hours, when our rooftop solar panels were providing free electricity. Because the Rangie’s power cable was only 10-amp (the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a 15-amp cable) it took around 10 hours to recharge fully. A dedicated fast-charger may do the job in less than half that time.
Of course, very, very few people can afford a Range Rover Sport Hybrid that starts at $128,000, but our test proved the viability of a mild hybrid powertrain that should be available in the near future from lower-spec’ makers for around half that price.
A case in point is the current Toyota Camry Hybrid four-cylinder petrol model that is only slightly more expensive than the similarly performing, but far less economical, V6 petrol model. That powertrain could easily be fitted into a HiLux platform.
We think that as hybrids become more commonplace and future 4WD platforms are designed around electric powertrains there’ll be sufficient space for larger batteries and full-sized spare wheels that the Australian market needs.
Range Rover’s Sport model was released in 2005. We were invited to the global launch held in northern Spain and southern
France, where there was ample opportunity to test the machine in demanding on and off road conditions.
But why were there two different vehicles wearing the ‘Range Rover’ badge? The two Range Rovers weren’t even similar machines: they were not built on the same platform and had no shared body panels. The Sport model had more in common with the Discovery 3 than it did with the existing Range Rover.
The Range Rover Sport was based on the flexible-wheelbase, integrated body-frame structure that was introduced on the Discovery 3, but the Sport was noticeably shorter in the wheelbase than the Disco – 140mm to be precise – and was some 70mm lower and nearly 40mm shorter.
Inside, the Sport lacked the Disco’s three-row seating, its headroom and cubic space. All seating positions in the Sport were commanding, but not quite as commanding as they were in the taller Discovery 3. Rear seat leg and headroom weren’t restricted in the Sport, but three back-seat adults didn’t have the class-leading comfort the Discovery provided.
The Sport featured a first for Land Rover: a one-piece aluminium tailgate that had a touch-operated, opening window section.
The Sport’s air springs’ pressure settings were firmer than the Disco’s and it had sharper-valved, mono-tube shock absorbers, instead of the Disco’s more compliant, twin-tube units.
Complementing this firmer suspension setup was Dynamic Response: a computer-controlled, active anti-sway system. An engine-driven hydraulic pump supplied pressure to hydraulic motors on the front and rear anti-sway bars, in proportion to the amount of body sway when cornering. The system acted automatically and reduced anti-sway action in off-road situations that demanded maximum wheel travel.
Two powerplants were shared with the Discovery: the common-rail diesel V6, 24-valve, 2.7-litre engine and the Jaguar-derived, 32-valve, 4.4-litre petrol V8. But the Sport could be ordered with a supercharged version of the V8, when 220kW and 425Nm just weren’t enough. The supercharged V8 put out a very healthy 287kW at 5750rpm, with peak torque of 550Nm at 3500rpm.
The supercharged engine came with a brake pack that included four-spot Brembo front callipers and large-envelope, 20-inch wheels needed to bolt over the top of them.
All the Range Rover Sport models came with a ZF six-speed, intelligent-shift automatic transmission, driving into a two-speed transfer case. An electronically-controlled locking centre differential was standard and a locking rear diff was optional.
The Range Rover Sport was fitted with the Disco 3’s Terrain Response system, controlled by a pop-up rotary switch on the centre console. The Sport’s interior design was noticeably ‘detuned’ from that of the ‘other’ Rangie and it lacked some of the larger vehicle’s niceties, such as powered operation of the tilt/telescopic steering column. However, it was still a luxury package.
The Range Rover Sport was happy tooling through villages, wheeling around car parks and cruising at legal motorway speeds. In these conditions the powertrain worked smoothly and the shifts were almost imperceptible.
On sweeping back roads the Sport fairly ripped along and just loved going around corners. On lumpy bitumen the Sport’s ride was noticeably firmer than the Disco 3’s plush progress, but it felt more ‘chuckable’ than its bigger sibling.
Dirt roads set the suspension a-jiggling and the traction control and Dynamic Stability Control a-clicking, but the Sport never got out of shape.
The supercharged engine had a slightly louder exhaust note, complemented by a subtle wail from the supercharger as it spun up. The same amount of accelerator pedal movement produced a lot more urge, so around town we were able to drive it with almost no accelerator pressure. It was happy to plod about with less than 2000rpm on the clock and showed no temperament at all, but prodded into life on the open road the supercharged V8 should please all but drag fiends.
Off-road the Dynamic Response sway bars provided greatly increased wheel travel over the fixed sway bar models.
We jumped into one of the support-team Discovery 3s for some off-road contrast and found the Disco’s setup much more suitable for rough track conditions than the Sport’s. Horses for courses.
At the rock crawl test track and the steep climb at The Wall showed the new Range Rover Sport is an extremely capable off roader, but we can’t help but feel that most owners will never exploit their vehicles’ capabilities.
In late 2006 a TDV8 turbo diesel was introduced, with 200kW and 640Nm (45 percent higher than the TDV6 from 2000 rpm to 2500rpm, with more than 500Nm of torque available from less than 1500 rpm to over 3700 rpm.
Each cylinder bank was fed by a dedicated variable-geometry turbocharger via separate, intercoolers. A camshaft-driven fuel pump supplied piezoelectric injectors at pressures of up to 1700 bar.
For 2008 The Range Rover Sport acquired additional touches: eight- way passenger seat functionality; electrically- adjustable steering column on Supercharged (optional on TDV6, TDV8 and 4.4L V8); and Bluetooth phone enhancement. Pricing remained largely unchanged: TDV6$87,900; TDV8$108,900; V8$108,900; and Supercharged $136,900.
For 2009 the Range Rover Sport scored exterior trim changes, a new 20-inch wheel design and more paint colours.
A new powered tailgate was introduced as standard for Luxury models upwards for 2012, enabling owners to set desired lift heights by a button located on the fascia or the key fob.
A touch-screen with optional Dual View technology allowed the driver to view the navigation display while the passenger watched a DVD. Rear seat entertainment was enhanced with WhiteFire wireless technology.
Hi-ICE and Premium audio systems offered up to 825W of power through 17 speakers on the Premium Harmon Kardon LOGIC 7. ‘Say What You See’ voice command was available on premium systems.
The Supercharged model could be fitted with a 20-inch, high-gloss lacquer wheel option.
Because the pre-2014 Range Rover Sport had the Discovery’s suspension and engine bay layout many of the after-market bits for the Disco fit the Sport.
Bush tyres are available in 18-, 19- and 20-inch sizes.