Land Rover Range Rover Sport 4×4 (2005 – 2012) review
Read the Land Rover Range Rover Sport 4x4 (2005 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.9 The Land Rover Range Rover Sport delivers performance saloon power and grand tourer comfort in a practical 4x4 package.
- Fantastic performance
- Luxurious interior
- Lean, mean looks
- High running costs
- No option for seven seats
- ‘Footballer’s car’ stigma
At a glance
While some prefer the tall and stately design of the Range Rover, the
Range Rover Sport is suitably lowered to fulfil its leaner and meaner brief. It’s actually based on the
Land Rover Discovery chassis, but sits much lower than that car too. The model saw revisions in 2009 and 2011 and it now features LED daytime-running lights in a gloss black surround in the headlight units, a number of wheel designs and a choice of front grille designs dependant on model.
The cabin feels wonderfully luxourious and not like a cut-price Range Rover. The cockpit wraps around the driver, and feels more like a sports car than a high-riding SUV. There’s plenty of leather fitted in all models, with various options for colour, there’s interior mood lighting, the seats have been redesigned for greater long-range comfort and there’s a new infotainment screen and dial cluster.
You might think the Sport sacrifices practicality in its quest to be quick – but it still has a seriously large boot. With 958 litres stretching to 2,013 litres when the rear seats are folded it has far more luggage space than the hardly-small-Freelander and only trails the Discovery and Range Rover by a few litres. Unlike the Discovery – which can be trimmed with seats in the boot – it’s a strictly five-seater though, and there’s no split tailgate like the larger Range Rover.
Ride and handling
The Sport might weigh two-and-a-half tonnes but it drives like a well-sorted saloon car. Occupants sit deeper down in the cabin than in a normal off-roader and the centre of gravity feels lower. The high-power diesel and Supercharged petrol models have Adaptive Dynamics which monitors suspension pressure 500 times a second and optimising its setup depending on the road surface. Enter a corner and the suspension stiffens up on the outside corners of the car, minimising body roll and maintaining composure. The steering is accurate, but lacks some of the feel found in a
Porsche Cayenne. Despite its 20-inch alloys and wide tyres the suspension does a good job of smothering bumps, and the Sport covers miles with ease. It’s a great grand tourer on road, and offers a huge capability on mud, rocks, sand or snow.
Land Rover has slimmed the engine line-up to a pair of 3-litre diesels and a 5-litre Supercharged petrol. The 3-litres are the pick of the bunch, mating stunning refinement with lower running costs and good performance. The diesel is available with 214bhp and 387/lb/ft of pulling power or 260bhp and 443lb/ft. That adds up to impressive acceleration figures of 9.6 and 8.5 seconds to 62mph and a top speed around 120mph. The 5-litre Supercharged model is a card-carrying muscle car, with 517bhp and 461lb/ft of pulling power packing a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. All cars are fitted with a new, efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox which is operated via a Jaguar-style rotary dial.
The Sport is clearly a premium car, with sizeable running costs – expect to pay close to £200 for a replacement 20-inch tyre. The 2011 revisions have reduced the running costs substantially and the 214bhp diesel is cheapest to run with 36.2mpg economy beating the 34.9mpg of the 260bho diesel and 19mpg of the petrol. Emissions of 224 and 230g/km is competitive against similar models, but the 348g/km emitted by the Supercharged will hurt the wallet.
The Range Rover Sport enjoys a better reputation for reliability than the Range Rover, but the Reliability Index, which tracks the cost of repairs and the frequency of breakdowns suggests it is average for time spent off the road.
With increased performance throughout the range all Sports get better brakes as standard and the stoppers on the supercharged petrol are from renowned Italian manufacturer Brembo. Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control and Enhanced Understeer Control as well as eight airbags are fitted as standard.
All models are well-equipped, featuring technology to stop mis-fuelling, air-suspension, leather seats, climate control, electrically-operated tailgate, xenon headlamps, 19-inch alloy wheels, lighting to aid entry and exit of the car at night, five-inch colour infotainment screen operating a hard disc drive music server, iPod connectivity, electric drivers’ seat and rear park sensors. Stepping up from the SE model to the HSE model means cars come equipped with 20-inch alloys, Dynamic Pack which offers advanced suspension setups, TV, rear park camera and a electric passenger seat. Autobiography models add adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam lights, bespoke badging and interior trim and a heated leather steering wheel.
The Range Rover Sport might still be seen by some as the cut-price Range Rover, but the Sport offers one of the most compelling arguements for driving a 4×4. It looks great, oozes style and drives as well as many sports cars on the road. Plus Land Rover’s core DNA runs through its veins, meaning that it is genuinely great on tough off-road journies.