Range Rover is seen as the pinnacle of SUVs. Once the vehicle of most farmers, Lords and Ladies of country estates, it is now a vehicle seen in across the international luxury market.
Range Rover has its challengers such as Porsche, Volvo, Mercedes and Audi, but even American models such as the Cadillac Escalade are making a stand in the luxury SUV market.
If you want a luxury SUV, then the Range Rover will pretty much serve of all your needs. It is the best dressed and most desirable SUV in my opinion, and I am sure Land Rover will not mind me saying so. I went along to the showroom in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, and I collected the key to the new 2015 Range Rover Sport. In the UK, people are more used to seeing the diesels on the road, but here in the UAE, the V8 is as common as sand. My weekend was with the 5.0 litre V8; supercharged too, just to ensure that power was aplenty – all 510 hp of it.
I spent the first evening just getting to know the car. Pushing buttons and playing with the functions on the touchscreen, and having driven the pre-2012 model, I was seeing the similarities, but moreover seeing the advances. They have done a remarkable job of refining the interior. The older generation model was good, but they have stepped up the level of design and comfort. I was impressed. Switches, knobs and levers all felt solid. The feel of the fixtures was firm and extremely well put together – you can clearly see the attention to detail. Technology was much the same, just refined and updated. At first glance, you’re thinking what all of this does. Five minutes of playing and you will understand all of the functions very quickly. It’s really quite intuitive. Meridian are masters of sound and what a fantastic audio system they have placed in this car. Crisp high tones and solid low bass tones are near perfect to the ears. The amazing thing is that there are 19 speakers. Where they put them is a mystery.
There is one thing very hard not to notice and probably the cars greatest let down. The car is quite tall and not all drivers will have long legs! There needs to be a side step. OK for the trouser covered men, but it can be a little compromising on the ladies trying to get into and out of the car, especially when the valet opens the door for your lady to attend that cocktail shin dig.
As options go, there is an extensive list of additional features and changes. For example, if you don’t like the standard wheels, there are nine sets to choose from. For the exterior, there are 19 different colours, and the list just goes on. Suffice to say the car will be as you want it. You want choice though when you buy prestige. The exterior of the car shows more engineered precision. Tapered lines and more dynamic features give the model a more assertive look.
When driving, it is just sublime. Land Rover has taken all the effort out of things to ensure that it is a relaxed and composed experience, even in sport mode. With the key in your pocket, you merely step into the car, push the brake and press the start button. The LED display dials light up, and the engine purrs quietly, so quiet and smooth that you get the feeling it’s not actually running. While on the move the ride is refined. The adaptive dynamic suspension soaks up all of the imperfections on the road. Steering is electronic, and although it fails to give a true feeling of the road, it does have a smooth and precise response. The steering is speed-sensitive, light and responsive at lower speeds, and firmer at higher ones.
Obviously a car with a Sport badge requires a little road adventure. For this, you may want to use the paddle shift and sport mode. With 510 hp, you will be expecting to feel some power and you will not be disappointed. Plant your foot and the supercharger produces very little whine, and the power comes from the moment you hit the gas. The engine comes to life and you’ll want to turn down the stereo and open the window to hear the musical growl of the exhaust note. Confident and extremely composed, the Range Rover accelerates with very little rearing up at the front. It gives you confidence that many cars don’t provide. Your relative speed becomes apparent when you look down at the dials. You feel the speed to be so much lower than the car is actually going. The ZF eight speed gearbox changes without hesitation. Given the chance, it would take off and be on the moon in no time.
Some of the extra confidence that the car supplies comes from the safety features. These include Electronic Air Suspension, adjustable from the touchscreen in the car, Adaptive Cruise Control with queue assist and emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, terrain response system, ABS Anti-Lock Braking, EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and more…
You will be proud to drive this car; you feel exclusive, confident and composed. It oozes refined contemporary quality, with well-engineered looks to match. The Range Rover sport is certainly a car keeping up with the latest fashion, stepping out from the garage in its finest tailored suit. Would I buy one? Most certainly I would.
Range Rover Sport specification at a glance:
- Model tested: Range Rover Sport 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged Dynamic
- Engine: 5.0-litre Supercharged V8
- Power: 510bhp
- Torque: 625Nm
- Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5 seconds
- Top speed: 155mph (limited)
- Economy: 22mpg
- Emissions: 298g/km CO2
By James Hutchinson