For the 2014 model year, Land Rover’s Range Rover division has launched a new Range Rover Sport. No longer being built on the Land Rover Discovery platform, the new Range Rover weighs 800lbs less than the previous version. When in the vehicle, it is hard to tell where they removed the weight from. It is lavishly equipped and super comfortable. It is also blisteringly fast and extremely off-road capable. My first drive in the Range Rover Sport Supercharged was well worth the over six years I’ve waited to drive it. Now I will share with you the joy of this vehicle.
On-road, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged is quite quick. It has a 510hp engine and delivers that power to the rear-wheels without much fuss. Full-adjustable suspension that varies feel and height based on driving conditions keeps the baby Range Rover planted in every condition. An impressive 8-speed automatic transmission, like that on many Jaguar and Chrysler models performs the job of shifting cogs. It will blip the throttle on downshift, and hold gears. It does not feel like a big SUV when driving.
I would imagine that the people who purchase Range Rovers are the same types of people who purchase watches that can be taken 1000m underwater. No, they are not deep sea divers, but they want to know for sure that their watch can handle getting wet in the shower. The Range Rover is probably seldom driven off-road by the purchaser, but has absolutely zero problems doing it if necessary.
New for 2014, the Sport has an additional option on the Terrain Response System. The new option is “Auto” and takes all of the guesswork out of off-road driving. The vehicle learns what type of surface it is driving on and adapts accordingly. It also works exceptionally well. When on the off-road course at Knibbe Ranch, the center mounted display showed the Range Rover locking and unlocking differentials, adjusting power to specific wheels, etc… It is a responsive system, so it may take a moment to “figure it out,” but I couldn’t really tell behind the wheel.
When doing serious off-road driving, the Range Rover Sport performs. Despite being on a set of tires that really are not designed for rock crawling, the Range Rover performs incredibly. I was fortunate to be in the vehicle with an official Land Rover instructor, who subtly guided me the best way through the course. The entire time was calm, comfortable, and I was able to carry on a pleasant conversation while the Range Rover took care of the rest.
The most amazing thing about the Range Rover Sport is how uneventful rock climbing is. If driving a Jeep Wrangler makes the driver feel like he or she is essential to the task, the Range Rover makes it feel like the driver isn’t really that necessary.
I really enjoyed my brief time in the Range Rover Sport, and while many of the purchasers of the vehicle will not off-road the vehicle, it is really nice knowing that it could.
Note: Vehicle provided by Land Rover for review.