Eight hundred pounds. That’s a couple of Sumo wrestlers on a Brie and burger diet. Or a Budweiser Clydesdale pulling a keg of the famous brew. Or the heft of an aptly named Harley-Davidson Fatboy.
Eight hundred pounds is the considerable weight Land Rover has shed from its Range Rover Sport luxo-4×4 to create this all-new version. That’s huge.
Anyone who has ever strapped on a heavy backpack or tried to run while holding a 42-inch TV will know the effects of carrying too much weight: Boy, does it slow you down.
The secret to the new Sport’s weight loss is the automotive equivalent of the Atkins diet. But instead of low carbs, it’s low aluminum. Gone is the lardy steel body and chassis; in its place is a waiflike aluminum uni-body structure that uses high-strength alloys joined with glue and rivets—just like the fuselage of a Boeing jet.
But this Sport is much more than last year’s model on an Oprah weight-loss program. It’s all new from the tires up with a fresh look, lots of fancy technology and a classy, über-upscale interior with more rear-seat space and—a first for a Range Rover—third-row seating.
See it on the street, and it looks like a longer, sleeker, more pumped-up version of Range Rover’s mid-sized Evoque. Its gorgeous, sexy shape appears to be racing at 100 mph even when standing still. Check the box for the optional 22-inch alloys, and it screams “Hot Wheels”—the perfect way to describe how this new Sport drives.
The previous 5-liter V-8 has been jettisoned, replaced by a 3-liter supercharged V-6 packing 340 horsepower. It’s the same buttery smooth mill that powers Jaguar’s new F-Type Sports Car but tuned to punch out more low-speed muscle.
It’s a superb engine, potent enough to go from standstill to 60 mph in under seven seconds and reach a 155 mph top speed while offering an impressive 23 mpg highway economy and 17 mpg around town. It’s hushed and refined yet throws out a lovely throaty roar when you step on the gas.
If you want more “sport” in your Sport, there’s really only one choice: the thundering, supercharged 5-liter V-8. It cranks out a massive 510 horses along with a soundtrack that would fit in on the banking at Daytona. Pedal to the metal, it can rocket the Sport from zero to 60 mph in an insane 4.9 seconds.
Of course, a novel could be written about the Sport’s off-road performance. Even though 99.9 percent of buyers will never put a tire in mud, Land Rover’s mantra ensures the Sport has the capability to climb Everest after plugging its way through an Amazonian rain forest.
With an improved version of Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response system—it now features an auto mode—plus the ability to wade through water three feet deep, there really ain’t no mountain high enough for the Sport.
But even more impressive is its capability on-road. The Range Rover Sport’s new electric-assist steering, active roll control and body shell that’s 25 percent stiffer heightens the Sport’s dynamic, super-responsive handling.
There’s even more luxury and class lathered into the ritzy cabin. It looks and feels like a smaller version of the flagship Range Rover with rich, thick leather trim and gorgeous piano-black accents.
Stretching the wheelbase by seven inches has done wonders for rear seat space. The back seats now offer four inches of fore and aft travel, recline and tip forward to offer access to a couple of teeny third-row seats.
The 2014 Sport starts at $63,495 for the base SE with a 3-liter V-6 and soars to $93,295 for the Autobiography with that awesome 5-liter V-8.
As for losing 800 pounds of flab and creating arguably the world’s most dynamic, agile and capable sporting SUV? Priceless.
- Price: $93,295
- Engine: 5-liter supercharged
- V-8 Power: 510 hp
- Torque: 461 pound-feet
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- 0-60: 4.9 seconds
- Top speed: 155 mph (limited)
- Length/width: 191/78 inches
- Weight: 5,093 pounds
- Why we love it: The Sport does everything the flagship RR does but with a sharper focus on performance and handling agility.