The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The Range Rover Sport is a car for all occasions, primarily because there’s no driving situation in which it doesn’t excel. It’s not a cheap car to buy or run, but you’ll love it every second you own it.
Reasons to buy
- Brilliant on the road
- Brilliant off-road
- Cheaper than the full-size Range Rover
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
At first glance the Sport is unmistakeably a Range Rover, despite not sharing a single body panel or piece of glass with the full-size version. It’s shorter, has a lower ride height and generally has a racier, more swept-back appearance. Design cues have been taken from the Evoque, too, especially the narrow headlamps and optional contrasting roof paintwork. It’s a design which is both desirable and functional, bringing better approach and departure angles. The looks get a little more aggressive as you progress up the range, with the SVR performance model having a variety of sporty-looking upgrades for the most outlandish, in-your-face appearance.
What's the interior like?
It’s fair to say that the interior of the Range Rover Sport has as much visual impact as the outside. Soft-touch leather covers the most prominent cabin surfaces, and they’re broken up with chromey metallic bits or interestingly textured panels, so there’s plenty for your eyes, and your fingertips, to feast on. It looks really stylish, it feels effortlessly posh, and there are also heaps of optional interior trims to choose from, from carbon trim to Alcantara. The steering wheel is smaller and thicker than in the non-Sport Rangey, while the seats are more sculpted. Only a few less-than-premium plastics around the cabin distract from an air of general quality.
Earlier cars had a rather outdated infotainment system, although the latest version is a big improvement. You’ll need to take some time to understand how it works though.
How practical is it?
The Sport isn’t as roomy as a regular Range Rover due to its slinkier shape, but there’s enough room in the back for three adult passengers to sit comfortably. For a bit (well, quite a lot) more cash, you can also specify two more seats that fold up electrically from the boot floor. However, they’re very tight on space, so anyone bigger than a small child will struggle to get comfy, and getting in and out takes some major dexterity as well. Obviously, travelling seven-up will make your boot a lot smaller, but in five-seat mode, it’s absolutely massive. Unfortunately, the Sport doesn’t get the same handy split tailgate as the normal Rangey.
What's it like to drive?
The burning question is, does the Rangey Sport live up to the last bit of its name? Well, yes, sort of. It’s a very rewarding car to drive, with massive grip, impressive body control and sharp, responsive steering. But while it changes direction very well indeed for such an enormous car, it’s not as agile or as precise as a Porsche Cayenne.
Where it has the Porsche licked is for ride comfort. With adaptive air suspension provided as standard, it glides smoothly and serenely over all sorts of bumps at all sorts of speeds. All-round refinement is just as impressive, so it’s absolutely brilliant at playing the luxury barge role. And being a Range Rover, it’ll get you further into the wilderness than most other 4x4s. Thanks to the ingenious Terrain Response off-roading system, it can take snow, mud, rocks and sand in its stride.
The SVR version is very nearly as handy off-road; it’s only the lower front bumper that puts the slightest dent in its mud-plugging credentials. The SVR’s suspension is modified to give sharper handling, which it does, but it still isn’t quite as precise as the best performance SUVs. The SVR’s low-speed ride isn’t as smooth as that in the more humble versions, either.
How powerful is it?
There’s a broad choice of engines available for the Range Rover Sport, all of them with enough power to haul this beast of a car around pretty quickly. Earlier cars were available with a four-cylinder diesel engine – the SD4 – and a 4.4-litre V8, which are now discontinued, so the entry-level engine is the 3.0-litre diesel V6, called the SDV6, which has 306 horsepower.
If your pockets are deep enough, you can also have your Rangie Sport with a supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8, with 525 horsepower. Even though that power figure is slightly down on earlier models, due to tightening emissions rules, it’s still fast enough to trouble many supercars in any situation. It also makes an appropriately nutty noise, with spits and crackles from the exhaust.
At a more 'sensible' level, there's the P300 2.0-litre petrol engine, and the P400e plug-in hybrid, which we’ve yet to try. Alternatively, the P400 is a 400-horsepower straight 3.0-litre, and if you’re technically minded then you may be intrigued to hear that it uses both a supercharger, as well as a mild-hybrid system. The net result is an impressive smooth engine that will accelerate quickly and with an effortless feel thanks to plenty of low-down grunt.
How much will it cost me?
It’ll come as no surprise whatsoever that you won’t be able to run a Range Rover Sport on a shoestring, and indeed it’s far from cheap, but when compared against rivals then it’s actually not bad. There are several versions to choose from, at prices that range from around £65,000 to over £100,000, but broadly it competes against cars like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. While the Land Rover can be slightly pricey in comparison, we’d expect the Range Rover Sport to cost similar amounts to run as those rivals, as while the Porsche will likely hold its value better, it’ll be much more to service, maintain and repair, while the X5 is unlikely to fetch as much as the Range Rover Sport when you come to sell it on.
How reliable is it?
In the recent past, Land Rover’s reputation for reliability has not been good at all. With such complex systems on board, faults have occurred with worrying regularity, and have proved very expensive to fix. You only need look at Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index for proof. These days, the brand’s overall reliability performance is said to have improved thanks to its newer models, but it’s still in the bottom half of JD Power’s 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study, and our owner reviews show plenty of people finding issues.
How safe is it?
The Range Rover Sport comes stuffed with as much safety kit as you expect, with a vast collection of airbags and just about every electronic traction and stability aid you can think of. Even cleverer systems, such as traffic sign recognition, are also available. The Sport has not been tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but the regular Range Rover has, and received a five-star rating, with a 91% score for adult occupant safety. We have no reason to believe that the Sport will fare any worse than that.
How much equipment do I get?
Whichever trim you plump for, you’ll get massive amounts of standard kit, as well you should at this price. Even entry-level HSE trim comes with luxuries like climate control, cruise control, high-tech matrix LED headlights, powered leather seats, electric windows, a touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Bluetooth, DAB, sat-nav, a reversing camera and a sound system from Meridian. HSE Dynamic trim adds a few upgrades to the performance and traction systems of your car, while HST models sport a black roof, some carbon-fibre exterior bits and a panoramic sunroof, as well as extra tech like adaptive cruise control.
Autobiography Dynamic trim adds a sliding element to the panoramic roof, and has even posher leather on its even posher seats, while the performance SVR model has some extra-fancy headlights, retuned suspension and a louder exhaust. And obviously, there’s a vast array of optional extras available, which let you tailor your car exactly to your own taste.
Because you want a car for every occasion. There’s very rarely a situation you come across in the Sport where it will be anything short of excellent. From a dreary school run to a fun weekend drive to a motorway slog in terrible weather; the Sport does it all with impeccable ease. It's expensive, but worth it.