| BUYERS GUIDE
RANGE ROVER SPORT
The mini Range Rover has it all - except bush-friendly tyres - August 2016
The post-2014 Range Rover Sport has all-aluminium monocoque body structure in which the joints in the shell are rivetted and bonded together using aerospace techniques. Significant upgrades were announced in late-2016
Combined body/chassis weight is lower by up to 39 percent (420kg) compared with the previous steel semi-monocoque-plus-chassis frame design that the Sport shared with the Discovery 4.
There are also new, lightweight front and rear suspensions, with all-aluminium front and rear subframes, and lightweight aluminium final drive units. The tailgate is formed from SMC plastic.
For the first time the Sport is available with third-row occasional seating.
The new Range Rover Sport has an enhanced line-up of petrol and diesel engines, all paired with an advanced ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic transmission. The petrol engines are a new 250kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and the carry-over 375kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8, with a new Bosch engine management system.
The 3.0-litre V6 sequentially-charged turbo-diesel has been upgraded and fitted with twin intercoolers and a Stop/Start system. It's available in 190kW and 215kW power settings, both with 600Nm of torque.
Scheduled to make its return to the Range Rover Sport line-up, the 4.4-litre 250kW SDV8 diesel has 700Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000rpm.
For the first time, the Range Rover Sport can be ordered with an optional single-speed transfer case instead of the standard two-speed transmission.
Pricing of Australian-market Range Rover Sport models spans the $90,900 (high range gearing only) to $233,500 zone. The lowest priced model with low-range gearing is $113,600.
Range Rover is playing the options game, because the base model lacks much of the 'fruit' you get in top-shelf Japanese and Korean soft-roaders that are half the Rangie Sport's price.
The 2017 Range Rover Sport is the first full-sized Land Rover to feature a four-cylinder diesel engine: the new two-litre, 177kW SD4 Ingenium replaces the TDV6 S in the base-model Rangie Sport. This advanced engine is the first Land Rover engine with series-sequential turbo technology.
With 177kW and 500Nm of torque, it has claimed fuel consumption of 6.2l/100km on the EU combined cycle.
The new Ingenium diesel engine is available on five-seat vehicles fitted with either coil or air suspension. Vehicles fitted with the new engine will be distinguished by a single twin-pipe exhaust.
Advanced Tow Assist technology is the latest autonomous technology to be introduced by Land Rover. Images from a rear-facing camera are relayed to the central touchscreen, allowing the driver to indicate the desired direction of the trailer using the Terrain Response 2 rotary controller. The vehicle should then autonomously steer the trailer into place and all the driver has to do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals.
Low Traction Launch is a new system that assists the driver when pulling away from a standstill on low grip surfaces, such as mud, wet grass or ice, by limiting the amount of torque the driver is able to apply by pressing the accelerator.
One of the most significant features of 2017 Range Rover Sport is the introduction of InControl Touch Pro, with a larger, 10-inch central touchscreen display. The TFT Virtual Instrument Panel allows drivers to choose full or partial satellite navigation information.
One of the key aspects of InControl Touch Pro is the ability to pinch and zoom when navigating maps, or swipe through menu screens as you would on a smartphone or tablet. There are apps for functions such as music playback, contacts and calendars that are mirrored on the central touchscreen when the driver’s smartphone is connected to the vehicle.
The new optional Pro Services system allows customers to download apps and install them directly to the vehicle’s InControl Touch Pro system, rather than being used through their smartphone and the include live data such as weather reports and a flight tracker.
InControl Remote Premium allows drivers to control a number of vehicle functions remotely using the dedicated smartphone app. Owners can check data such as the mileage or fuel level, lock and unlock the vehicle and even adjust the climate control settings.
The Commute Mode part of Pro Services is an intuitive function that learns regular journeys so customers don’t have to set a destination manually. It recognises common trips and automatically redirects the driver if the regular route is congested. Door-to-door routing allows the customer to set a route using the Land Rover app and transfer it to the vehicle. Once the vehicle is parked, final directions to the destination can be viewed on a smartphone so customers can complete their journey on foot.
All 2017 models have Rear Park Distance Control, Cruise Control, Speed Limiter and Lane Departure Warning. For 2017 Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) joins that list. The system monitors the surroundings and will warn the driver if a collision is imminent, before intervening and braking if the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently.
The optional Drive Pack contains all the standard features in addition to Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection. Driver Condition Monitor is another new addition. It analyses steering inputs and takes into account factors such as the time of day and journey time to warn the driver if signs of fatigue are detected.
The Drive Pro Pack includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist and Intelligent Emergency Braking and adds Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist
for 2017. Blind Spot Assist monitors for vehicles approaching from behind or those in Range Rover Sport’s blind spot. If the driver begins to change
lanes in circumstances that could pose a risk of a collision, the vehicle will automatically apply a steering input to prevent an accident. Lane Keep
Assist provides corrective steering inputs if the driver veers out of their lane without indicating.
On and off roadWe borrowed a base-model MY 2014 TDV6 Sport with single-speed transfer case for evaluation and took it over our test circuit. As we expected, the latest Sport raised the refinement bar for the Range Rover brand and it certainly felt lighter than its predecessor.
The test vehicle had options that included a gloss black roof, with black roof liner inside and powered front seats . The Sport had excellent fit and finish and nary a squeak or rattle.
Handling was brilliant, but we felt that the on-bitumen ride was a tad firm, with damping that seemed to lock-down the suspension too much. Maybe more bump damping was needed, with less rebound effort. On dirt, at gradually increasing speeds, the balance was ideal and a well-driven Sport would make a very rapid point to point bush traveller, if the fancy 19-inch wheel and tyre package was up to the job. There's not a lot of LT tyre choice in this rim size.
Rangies have legendary off-road abilities, but the TDV6 model's single-speed transfer case limited its rock-hopping powers considerably. Standard air suspension allowed a useful ride-height increase, but at the expense of spring rate that stiffened the suspension and restricted compliance with the terrain.
Anyone wanting traditional Range Rover off-road performance needs to opt for one of the more expensive Sport models that have two-speed transfer cases and preferably with an optional rear axle diff lock.
Ambience was relaxed, the sound system was soothing and ergonomics were superb - with only one exception. Form has overridden function of the gear selector's 'trigger' that needs to be depressed before moving the lever. Unfortunately, the trigger is a slippery, convex thing that makes quick gear changes - reverse to drive for example - tricky, to say the least. In concert with a stop-start engine function that kills the donk at inopportune times, the new lever design is a literal pain and needs to be revised.
Check out the video:
Low range gearing tested
Our next test Rangie Sport was fitted with optional low range gearing and we took it to our rocky test climb for an evaluation. The gearing certainly made a difference in gradeability, but the stiff suspension and low-profile tyres were still limiting factors.
The Sport would have had more ability with an optional rear diff lock fitted, but it's never going to be an ideal bush machine - too many on-road-handling compromises have been made.
Check out our rock-climbing video:
The Range Rover Sport was released in 2005. We were invited to the global launch held in northern Spain and southern France, where there was ample opportunity to test the machine in demanding on and off road conditions.
But why were there two different vehicles wearing the ‘Range Rover’ badge? The two Range Rovers weren’t even similar machines: they were not built on the same platform and had no shared body panels. The Sport model had more in common with the Discovery 3 than it did with the existing Range Rover.
The Range Rover Sport was based on the flexible-wheelbase, integrated body-frame structure that was introduced on the Discovery 3, but the Sport was noticeably shorter in the wheelbase than the Disco – 140mm to be precise – and was some 70mm lower and nearly 40mm shorter.
Inside, the Sport lacked the Disco’s three-row seating, its headroom and cubic space. All seating positions in the Sport were commanding, but not quite as commanding as they were in the taller Discovery 3. Rear seat leg and headroom weren’t restricted in the Sport, but three back-seat adults didn’t have the class-leading comfort the Discovery provided.
The Sport featured a first for Land Rover: a one-piece aluminium tailgate that had a touch-operated, opening window section.
The Sport’s air springs’ pressure settings were firmer than the Disco’s and it had sharper-valved, mono-tube shock absorbers, instead of the Disco’s more compliant, twin-tube units.
Complementing this firmer suspension setup was Dynamic Response: a computer-controlled, active anti-sway system. An engine-driven hydraulic pump supplied pressure to hydraulic motors on the front and rear anti-sway bars, in proportion to the amount of body sway when cornering. The system acted automatically and reduced anti-sway action in off-road situations that demanded maximum wheel travel.
Two powerplants were shared with the Discovery: the common-rail diesel V6, 24-valve, 2.7-litre engine and the Jaguar-derived, 32-valve, 4.4-litre petrol V8. But the Sport could be ordered with a supercharged version of the V8, when 220kW and 425Nm just weren’t enough. The supercharged V8 put out a very healthy 287kW at 5750rpm, with peak torque of 550Nm at 3500rpm.
The supercharged engine came with a brake pack that included four-spot Brembo front callipers and large-envelope, 20-inch wheels needed to bolt over the top of them.
All the Range Rover Sport models came with a ZF six-speed, intelligent-shift automatic transmission, driving into a two-speed transfer case. An electronically-controlled locking centre differential was standard and a locking rear diff was optional.
The Range Rover Sport was fitted with the Disco 3’s Terrain Response system, controlled by a pop-up rotary switch on the centre console. The Sport’s interior design was noticeably ‘detuned’ from that of the ‘other’ Rangie and it lacked some of the larger vehicle’s niceties, such as powered operation of the tilt/telescopic steering column. However, it was still a luxury package. The Range Rover Sport was happy tooling through villages, wheeling around car parks and cruising at legal motorway speeds. In these conditions the powertrain worked smoothly and the shifts were almost imperceptible.
On sweeping back roads the Sport fairly ripped along and just loved going around corners. On lumpy bitumen the Sport’s ride was noticeably firmer than the Disco 3’s plush progress, but it felt more ‘chuckable’ than its bigger sibling.
Dirt roads set the suspension a-jiggling and the traction control and Dynamic Stability Control a-clicking, but the Sport never got out of shape.
The supercharged engine had a slightly louder exhaust note, complemented by a subtle wail from the supercharger as it spun up. The same amount of accelerator pedal movement produced a lot more urge, so around town we were able to drive it with almost no accelerator pressure. It was happy to plod about with less than 2000rpm on the clock and showed no temperament at all, but prodded into life on the open road the supercharged V8 should please all but drag fiends.
Off-road the Dynamic Response sway bars provided greatly increased wheel travel over the fixed sway bar models. We jumped into one of the support-team Discovery 3s for some off-road contrast and found the Disco’s setup much more suitable for rough track conditions than the Sport’s. Horses for courses. As the rock crawl test track and the steep climb at The Wall showed the new Range Rover Sport is an extremely capable off roader, but we can’t help but feel that most owners will never exploit their vehicles’ capabilities.
In late 2006 a TDV8 turbo diesel was introduced, with 200kW and 640Nm (45 percent higher than the TDV6 from 2000 rpm to 2500rpm, with more than 500Nm of torque available from less than 1500 rpm to over 3700 rpm.
Each cylinder bank was fed by a dedicated variable-geometry turbocharger via separate, intercoolers. A camshaft-driven fuel pump supplied piezoelectric injectors at pressures of up to 1700 bar.
For 2008 The Range Rover Sport acquired additional touches: eight- way passenger seat functionality; electrically- adjustable steering column on Supercharged (optional on TDV6, TDV8 and 4.4L V8); and Bluetooth phone enhancement. Pricing remained largely unchanged: TDV6$87,900; TDV8$108,900; V8$108,900; and Supercharged $136,900. For 2009 the Range Rover Sport scored exterior trim changes, a new 20-inch wheel design and more paint colours.
A new powered tailgate was introduced as standard for Luxury models upwards for 2012, enabling owners to set desired lift heights by a button located on the fascia or the key fob.
A touch-screen with optional Dual View technology allowed the driver to view the navigation display while the passenger watched a DVD. Rear seat entertainment was enhanced with WhiteFire wireless technology.
Hi-ICE and Premium audio systems offered up to 825W of power through 17 speakers on the Premium Harmon Kardon LOGIC 7. ‘Say What You See’ voice command was available on premium systems.
The Supercharged model could be fitted with a 20-inch, high-gloss lacquer wheel option.
Because the pre-2014 Range Rover Sport had the Discovery’s suspension and engine bay layout many of the after-market bits for the Disco fit the Sport.
Bush tyres are available in 18-, 19- and 20-inch sizes.
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