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Range Rover Sport HSE V8 5.0 Supercharged

Click to view picture galleryEasily outselling the Range Rover,
  the new £61,995 2010 model year
  Range Rover Sport is sure to be
  snapped up by people who enjoy
  being in the public eye

A SPORTS PREMIUM 4X4 REALLY SEEMS A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS who needs a go-faster off-roader? Well… celebrities, 'new money business types' and highly paid footballers all of whom, it appears, never go near muddy conditions except for the odd society event car park in a field.

It is, of course, all about image and having an imposing 4x4 but with the performance of a sports car — and with as many gadgets and technologies to help with the owner's bragging rights. We cannot knock the users; at least we still have freedom of choice to buy whatever car we like, but even with prices ranging from £44,895 to £61,995 the 2010 Range Rover Sport will be bought by over 6,000 UK customers this year.

"A more sporting design for a more sporting vehicle" is how Land Rover describes the 2010 model year Range Rover Sport. At the front, new signature LED headlamps provide a technical focal point and feature Range Rover-inspired interlocking circle lamps. With a new two-bar grille and larger air intake, the Sport's frontal aspect is much more athletic and low-slung. The new front bumper blends with redesigned front wings to form a simple, sculpted surface, offering improved aerodynamics and a lower, more sporting visual stance. The side view of the vehicle features new, two-stripe LED indicators along with redesigned two-section side vents. Completing the visual changes are colour-coded door mirrors and smartened up tail lights and a rear bumper that mirrors the style of the front end.

The interior has been comprehensively redesigned and features significantly improved standards of quality and craftsmanship worthy of the Range Rover brand. The cabin retains its popular, snug, twin-cockpit feel but incorporates higher quality materials, sumptuous soft-touch finishes and superb detailing throughout. Leather is used extensively on major surfaces, and in a wider choice of colours. To create a more sporting feel, rich dark shades 'sandwich' narrow sections in lighter tones and the effect is completed by a generous selection of stylish wood finishes.

To enhance the clean look of the interior, the facia now has only half the switches it had previously; and the switches themselves are all chrome-plated. There are new seats front and back of a deeper, more sculpted shape; and electrically adjustable side bolsters are available for the first time. New ambient lighting is introduced with white LEDs to cast subtle halos around the interior door handles and pockets, as well as on the facia and centre console area.

Also new is a hard-drive navigation system to provide faster route calculation and improved system reliability. The new portable audio interface allows connectivity to an array of personal audio storage devices, USB sticks and MP3 players, enabling the various devices' functions to be accessed and controlled via the facia-mounted touch-screen system.

My test vehicle returned
between 9.4 to 15.8mpg
during off- and on-road
test driving
Outside the cabin, new systems enhance safety and security and these include a new surround camera system which supports easier parking and towing. It features five digital cameras, which relay a near 360-degree view to the touch-screen display. The cameras function immediately the vehicle is started and can be used at speeds up to 11mph, with options for selecting and zooming in to assist with close-quarter parking and towing.

The Sport is not just about the stylish new look inside and out: there are two powerful and efficient new UK built engines. Expected to account for 60% of sales is the 242bhp 3.0-litre LR-TDV6 twin-turbocharged diesel engine with a huge 443lb ft of torque. This Dagenham-built unit replaces the 2.7-litre turbodiesel engine and even with 29% more power and 36% more torque fuel consumption is reduced by 9% to 30.7mpg and CO2 emissions by 8.3% to 243g/km. In operation, the extra power and 'grunt' is obvious and the refinement is memorable. For on- or off-road use it is the most sensible powerplant for most people.

Out-and-out performance star of the new line-up (and replacing the previous 4.2-litre supercharged petrol engine) is the South Wales-built LR-V8 5.0-litre supercharged unit with 503bhp of power and 461lb ft of torque. Again, despite more power, CO2 emissions over the old unit are reduced by 7% although the V8 still emits a massive 353g/km. Fuel economy shows a 6.2% improvement at 18.8mpg. For the record my test vehicle returned between 9.4 to 15.8mpg during off- and on-road test driving. It's expected that just six per cent of Range Rover Sport buyers will opt for this unit.

The remainder of sales will be taken up by the retained Dagenham-built LR-TDV8 3.6-litre turbodiesel which offers 268bhp and 472lb ft with 25.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 294g/km.

A comprehensive programme of chassis system modifications has transformed the Range Rover Sport's on-road dynamics, while also delivering a substantial improvement in its off-road capabilities.

The introduction of new systems such as Adaptive Dynamics, working in conjunction with the existing Dynamic Response (known as Active Ride Control on supercharged models) and the addition of the road-focused Dynamic Program to the Terrain Response system help enhance agility and ride quality. Further improvements to the system ensure that off-road capability is kept at the expected class-leading level.

The new improved Range Rover Sport with 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged power has image and presence. It's also comfortable, spacious and, as you'd expect with 503bhp under the bonnet, has terrific on-road acceleration. There are downsides, of course: huge running costs, the handling is still not as sharp as the BMW X5/X6 and for some the image is brash. Still want one? Of course you do! — David Miles

Range Rover Sport HSE 5.0 V8 Supercharged
| £61,995
Maximum speed:140mph | 0-60mph: 5.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 15.8mpg
Power: 503bhp | Torque: 461lb ft | CO2 353g/km | Insurance group 14+