Let’s say you want to go to the ends of the earth, and you want to get there, over land, as quickly as possible. The list of vehicles capable of getting you from point A to point B with all due haste, regardless of what’s in between, is indeed a short one, populated by the likes of the AMG-tuned G-Class Mercedes-Benz and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
The biggest divide between the two may be in price; while the G-Class AMG carries the kind of sticker price that only drug lords and extremely well-heeled suburban soccer moms can absorb, the Range Rover Sport is priced below even more road-centric muscle SUVs, like the BMW X5 M.
That makes the Range Rover Sport a near ideal blend of performance, capability and value, and we can safely proclaim the Sport to be the most engaging vehicle in Range Rover’s current lineup. It’s sized somewhere in between the Evoque and the full-size Range Rover and it borrows some components from the more pedestrian Land Rover LR4, yet somehow the Range Rover Sport manages to feel like nothing else in the brand’s catalog.
Perhaps its the 5.0-liter V8, tuned to produce 375 horsepower and 375 pound feet of torque in base HSE trim. That’s good enough to get the heavy SUV from 0-60 in an impressive 7.2 seconds, but if that’s not fast enough for you, a forced induction version is also available. Rated at 510 horsepower and 461 pound feet of torque, the Supercharged variant can sprint from 0-60 in just 5.9 seconds. An intelligent all-wheel-drive system and six-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models, ensuring the maximum amount of trouble-free forward thrust regardless of road and weather conditions. The trade off, as you’d guess, is fuel economy; if that’s even a remote concern, it’s best to look at another class of vehicle.
For those unconcerned about fuel prices, the Sport readily tackles any kind of terrain you can think of, from dry pavement through deep mud. In paved corners, its grip is truly impressive, but the cost of such handling prowess is a ride that some will find harsh. If you want the best of both worlds, we suggest you opt for the adaptive suspension, which goes a long way toward upping ride quality.
Inside, the cockpit manages to pull off understated British elegance, with a nod to modern amenities. Wood veneer and club-chair leather coexist with a modern LCD infotainment touchscreen, and contemporary switchgear has a high-quality feel to it. The cabin is best described as “intimate,” and while four occupants can enjoy the Range Rover Sport experience, they won’t be bringing much gear along with them. In fact, there isn’t much room for cargo with the rear seat in place, and the high floor doesn’t make loading the Range Rover Sport any easier.
Those gripes aside, we find the Range Rover Sport to be the most entertaining model in the automaker’s current product line. Take one for a drive, and we’ll bet you’ll agree.
For complete details on the 2013 Range Rover Sport models, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection.
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