SINGAPORE – Until the Evoque came along, Range Rover was synonymous with posh-roading on a grand scale, both in terms of their sheer proportions and road presence, as well as the prodigious level of low-mid range torque that was typically at the behest of the right foot. As fans of the brand are familiar with, the end package boasts stellar credentials that mean these cars were equally at home both on a muddy field playground as well as in prime positions in front of a hotel or country club.
Although the silhouette looks familiar, the visual cues of the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport echo that of the Evoque, especially the squinty eyes, which give these behemoths a more menacing and sporty appearance. Also, this iteration of the Range Rover Sport also sees the addition of a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine ($460k) (we last sampled this in the XF) to the familiar turbodiesel ($450k) and supercharged V8 ($590k for the Autobiography) variants.
As anyone who has come into contact with any earlier Range Rover can attest, the cars are an implacable force of nature that will happily chug along, despite the worst that nature or the concrete jungle can throw their way. In part, access to a fat wedge of torque low down in the rev band contributes to the agility of these 2-tonne-odd vehicles, a trait that continues in the SDV6 and 5.0 S/C versions of the Range Rover Sport, with the former seeing 600Nm from 2000rpm and the latter, 625Nm from 2500rpm onwards.
This author firmly believes that big SUVs are best experienced as turbodiesels, since the current crop of Euro-friendly turbodiesels negate one of the biggest misconceptions about SUVs – that they are dirty, oversized polluters that are killing the environment. However, we should add that that’s a purely USA-centric viewpoint that has found favour among the less enlightened people here, since for whatever reason, the Yanks don’t enjoy access to the advanced clean diesels that are available in Singapore.
One of the Range Rover Sport’s party tricks is the availability of a third-row for five-plus-two seating. Unfortunately, this is only available as standard on the SDV6 model and not our 3.0 S/C demo-car – ‘Dynamic’ adds sporty exterior trim to our test-car. Like its predecessor, there’s a tautly cohesive yet rugged feel to the interior and right off the bat, there’s an urgency to the 3.0 S/C that belies its 2144kg kerbweight. The century sprint is dispatched in just 7.2 seconds, but the 3.0 S/C impresses most with its body composure, especially during sporty driving (not quite the oxymoron you would imagine!), as well as tackling the paths less smoothly paved.
However, the relatively high revs at which the 3.0 S/C deliver its goods (450Nm from 3500rpm) means the engine has to be flogged reasonably hard to make swift progress – a contrast to the waft-happy traits of its stable-mates and predecessors. There’s even a snarling soundtrack in accompaniment to the motion once the supercharger gets into its stride, but the jury’s still out as to whether or not this detracts too much from the brand’s aristocratic pedigree. Despite its size, the turning circle is small, which makes it a doodle to manoeuvre in tight confines. We’d have liked for a more substantial steering weighting to go with its dynamic credentials, but we can imagine this will be appreciated by the buyers who seek prestige and daily ease-of-use.
The 3.0 S/C straddles the middle ground as far as the Range Rover Sport is concerned, so for the buyers to whom such things are critical can enjoy the associated luxury accoutrements of the car without being weighed-down by the stigma of a turbodiesel engine nor the costs associated with a big petrol V8.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 2,995cc, 24v, V6, supercharged
Power 340bhp at 6500rpm
Torque 450Nm at 3500 – 5000rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 210km/h
0-100km/h 7.2 seconds
Fuel efficiency 10.7l/100km
Price $460,000 with COE
Also Consider: Mercedes-Benz ML 350, Porsche Cayenne S
Pictures by Gerald Yuen