The Range Rover Sport is a car that’s not associated with off-roading today, through no fault of its own. It’s chiselled to perfection from every angle, almost too luxurious in its interiors, and glides like a dream on the roads. It looks perfectly comfortable right next to fancy sedans and flashy sports cars in a carpark, and it makes heads turn when you’re stopped at traffic lights.
The biggest difference between the new Range Rover Sport and its other luxury compatriots, however, is that when you need to take it through hell and high waters, it most certainly won’t let you down.
First launched in 2005, the Range Rover Sport offered a different narrative during a time when the focus of 4x4s was still ruggedness instead of speed. Now that every other marque has figured out that people aren’t exactly traversing dirt roads and rocky steep hills to get to places, they’ve also begun making SUVs that are better at going fast than climbing up a curb. Thankfully, the Range Rover Sport’s had decades of practising both, only this time it’s got its stablemate, the Range Rover, to help take it further, especially since it’s based on its reinvention. There’s evolution and revolution at play here, and it’s glorious.
Read on for our full review of the luxury SUV when we took it for a spin down the English countryside.
Review: The 2023 Range Rover Sport
Now in its third generation, the new Range Rover Sport is the brand’s most advanced and dynamically capable yet. It’s available in SE, HSE, and Autobiography specifications, but you’ll want to get your hands on the First Edition for maximum bragging rights, since it’s only available throughout its first year of production.
The Range Rover Sport P510e 3.0P PHEV Autobiography that we had knew how to turn heads in all the right ways, and if you still can’t decide which colour to get yours in, just trust us and pick the Eiger Grey in Satin finish. Like the Range Rover, the Sport has been redesigned so cleverly that you’ll notice an evolution and revolution, without losing the features that have become so synonymous with it. There’s attitude coming from its taut facade, almost like it’s impatient to take off. The trademark short overhangs, assertive front-end, and steeply raked glazing at the front and back promise tons of road presence, not that the sheer size of the SUV didn’t already do the job.
This time, the sculpted exterior is accompanied by sleek touches like the stealth-like front grille and digital LED headlights that beam the distinctive Daytime Running Light (DRL). The eye-catching design is the slimmest ever to be fitted to a Land Rover, and succeeds in drawing the eye to the sculpted lower bumper, which, if anything, is the biggest hint to the car’s athleticism.
The sporty elements continue at the rear, where a chiselled tailgate is met with new lower fender details and the longest spoiler ever fitted to a Range Rover. It’s a head-turning sight, and we know because we caught people gawking – sometimes even giving us a thumbs up – while we were on the road. Add to that 22-inch with Satin Dark Grey Diamond Turned alloy wheels, as well as a contrasting sliding panoramic roof, and you’ve gotten yourself a real stunner.
The Range Rover Sport stays true to its promise of luxury within, with a cockpit-like cabin that sets the tone for a dynamic driving experience. Unlike many cars that make you dread driving long distances, this one really is an enjoyable environment to be in, so much so that you may not even want to leave.
The chairs are generously sized and leg room is abundant, whether you’re sat in the front or back. You’ll get to customise your experience with the 22-way adjustable seats in the front, which, by the way, also come with a glorious massaging function that does more than simply poke your back randomly. This one actually felt like a masseuse was kneading at our backs, believe it or not.
Because sustainability is a big part of the brand’s ethos these days, you’ll get to opt for the Ultrafabrics material that’s happily cow-free. Otherwise, there are soft Semi-Aniline leather options that’ll give your interiors a buttery soft finish. Meanwhile, Moonlight Chrome interior finishers bring sleekness and sophistication to the hulking cabin. This is, after all, a Range Rover.
Audio comes courtesy of Meridian – which provides resounding music with a bass that’s strong enough to rattle the entire cockpit – while infotainment is seamless thanks to the Pivi Pro. We’ve waxed lyrical about this system before, but Jaguar Land Rover really nailed the hammer on the head with this one. Unlike other infotainment systems which can get frustrating and fiddly, this one is intuitive and everything is presented neatly on the high-res floating 13.1-inch curved touchscreen. You don’t need more than two taps to get to most functions, and the interface recognises your user habits to personalise the home screen.
You’ll also access most of the Range Rover Sport’s performance features here; from selecting your off-roading terrain to switching between driving modes. Other notable features within the cabin include Cabin Air Purification Pro, which filters out pollution, as well as the wireless charger for smartphones.
Driving the Range Rover Sport is a unique experience that highlights Land Rover’s ability to blend their very best off-road tech with on-road performance driving, and if you’re wondering how it stands up the full-fat Range Rover or Defender, it does offer a more engaging on-road experience.
Unlike the standard inline-six engined Land Rovers that offer a mild-hybrid engine, the P510e allows drivers to travel in an all-electric mode thanks to a bigger battery and electric motor. In total, the combined output of the vehicle is 503bhp and 700Nm of torque, which enables the large SUV to hit 100kph in a mere 5.2 seconds. The 105-kW motor with 38.2kWh battery provides approximately 112km (70 miles) of all-electric driving range from a full charge. One unique feature that was particularly useful was that the vehicle automatically switched to all-electric mode and stayed that way when in London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone, and it stayed that way until the battery was depleted. You can then simply plug it in or switch to Regen mode.
Perhaps what’s most important with this vehicle considering that it’s a luxury performance vehicle is how smoothly it puts down the power. The electric and petrol engines work harmoniously together, providing the typical Range Rover waft, but with a slightly more planted feeling. Electric assistance is also useful in some off-roading circumstances and the vehicle automatically works its magic for you to provide the best response for the given terrain.
The Range Rover Sport has all-wheel steering that turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels at higher speed to improve stability, while turning in the opposite direction at lower speeds to improve the vehicle’s turning radius. This is extremely useful for city driving as it makes getting in and out of parking spaces and garages a breeze. The Range Rover Sport can also come equipped with a range of other performance handling options including Dynamic Response Pro, the Electronic Active Differential with Torque Vectoring by Braking and Configurable Programs. These all work to improve the large vehicle’s on-road performance and provide a sporting drive.
While we didn’t have the opportunity to take the new Range Rover Sport over any serious off-road terrain, it does feature all of the marque’s latest tech including Terrain Response 2, which includes several different traction control programmes and Adaptive Off-Road Cruise Control, which basically drives the vehicle for you off-road once the driver sets a few parameters in the computer system. It’s all very straightforward, which is useful if you’re a first timer. There is also low-range gearing, as well as both centre- and rear-locking differentials on the new vehicle.
Thanks to its air suspension, it can also be raised for getting over larger obstacles that might impede a standard 4×4’s path. In other words, there isn’t much that can hold the new Range Rover Sport back. That being said, most users will never take it into too much trouble, but it’s always nice to know that if you wanted to, you could. And that’s what sets Land Rover apart from every other luxury SUV brand.
Purists often find it hard to stomach when their favourite cars morph over the years, but Range Rover has managed to make the Sport look current but still recognisable. While the “regular” Range Rover still has more to offer when it comes to comfort, the Sport takes that identity a step further with tons of attitude – and the performance to match. And while you could enjoy that same adrenaline rush and head-turning effect with a supercar, why wouldn’t you rather be spoilt in one of the most luxurious and sporty SUVs around instead?
Find out more about the Range Rover Sport here.
(All images: Jaguar Land Rover)