Land Rover Range Rover HSE Dynamic
• From £64,995
• 0-60mph- 6.8 seconds
• Top speed 138mph
• Fuel consumption (combined) 37.7mpg
• 2,993cc six-cylinder turbo diesel
The Range Rover Sport is sometimes maligned as a “hairdressers’ car,” a cheap and slightly tacky version of its Range Rover big brother.
Sharing the Freelander’s chassis didn’t help, but the new model, which has been on sale since October, is challenging earlier perceptions.
Cei Gardner, sales executive at Stratstone Land Rover, said the new design has proved extremely popular.
“We’ve seen a big demand since it went on sale,” he said.
“The waiting list now is backed up to about eight or nine months.”
Those customers are waiting for a car with style and verve but which still has the classic Range Rover traits.
And it’s true, the Sport has all of that. It’s big, but not quite as big as a Range Rover, and a bit less boxy.
It also packs the sporty punch you’d expect from a model designed for a more enjoyable drive.
“It’s got a more aggressive feel to it,” Cei said.
“It’s also a more luxurious cabin and a more relaxed driving position, which appeals to traditional Range Rover customers who want a car that isn’t quite so big.
The Sport is definitely luxurious and comes with almost everything you’d expect from a car in this class. The HSE Dynamic includes front and rear heated seats, cruise control, and an 8in touch screen, which controls the in-built satnav, radio, mp3 and DVD player.
If you don’t want the distraction while driving it all works from voice-activation too, provided you can get it to understand your accent.
“Range Rover know the people buying these cars often spend thousands of pounds on great sound systems at home,” Cei said.
“So when they buy a Range Rover they get two great sound systems combined, one at home and one in the car.”
But all the luxury in the world isn’t much use if the car doesn’t drive well. Pleasingly this isn’t somewhere where the Sport falls short. It packs a hell of a punch, but it’s also surprisingly quiet and a rather smooth ride.
This is partly down to computerised suspension, which can change 500 times a second once the front wheels hit a bump in the road. By the time the back wheels have hit the same bump, it’s barely noticeable.
But the most fun to be had in the Sport is the simple pleasure of putting your foot down on an open road and hearing a satisfying growl from the three litre engine. It handles corners well and it feels like a much smaller car than it actually is, without the steering feeling too light.
It’s all enough to put any preconceptions about the Sport to the back of your mind, at least for a while. At just shy of £52,000 for the base model it’s still £20,000 cheaper than the normal Range Rover, but it’s £10,000 more expensive than a BMW X5 or a Porsche Cayenne, although the latter can cost up to £107,000 where the Sport’s top price is £81,550.
If you have the money to buy any of them it’s a nice choice to have. On the evidence though, it would be hard to better the Sport.
See the test drive here: