Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 7, 2017
It’s been over a year since I last drove a Range Rover Sport, and since then I’ve piloted many of its competitors, like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC90. But it seems to only take a few minutes behind the wheel before the Sport’s British charm wins over my emotions, yet again.
Everything from the way it looks to the way it drives brings me back to solid ground. Sure, the Rover’s celebrity looks and snobby appeal might turn some people off, but if you’re looking to spend some money on a capable, beautiful, and solid three-row SUV, then the Range Rover Sport should be on your short list.
I’m test driving the 2017 model, which is essentially the exact same model from 2016 but with a few minor tweaks mainly in the tech department. All new is the 10-inch infotainment system (which replaces the outgoing 8-inch) that Land Rover calls InControl Touch Pro, which was also featured and tested in the Evoque and Discovery Sport we drove a few months ago.
It hardly changes the driving experience, except with a bigger, wider, and more colourful touchscreen. Lag between press-and-response has been mitigated, and the menus are overall more intuitive. The ability to pinch, zoom, and scroll is a neat addition as well. Still, favouriting station channels by pressing the tiny star icon can be challenging when trying to keep both eyes on the road ahead.
By far the biggest improvement is to the driver’s gauges, which are now all digital. The resolution quality is remarkable, and the ability to transform it into a fullscreen live map (think Audi’s Virtual Cockpit) is very attractive and useful for road trips into unchartered territory.
New features for 2017 include Low Friction Control (also in Jaguars), which when selected, assists drivers when pulling away from standstills on low grip surfaces, such as in the rain or snow. The 4x4 menu has also been updated with better graphics and off-road features.
From afar, the Sport doesn’t look like a terribly large SUV, not so much as its full-size Range Rover brother. The Sport’s sleek and layered proportions make sure of that. Rather, it’s only when you compare it with smaller cars in traffic does it strike you as a huge colossal brick.
The Sport sits high up, enabling drivers and passengers the ability to peer above traffic with an alpha-male dominance. The seats add to that that commanding driving experience as well, with what I like to call “throne-seating” - the seats are up-right, high up, have separate and adjustable center armrests, along with a chunky window sill for you to rest your forearms on. The best part? Both the armrest and windowsill are level, allowing you sit down as if it was your “throne.”
The only downside with the Sport model is that the windowsill armrest is not entirely flat. It’s slightly angled inwards like the Evoque and Discovery Sport, meaning your elbow can slip off easily. The full Range Rover has a flat windowsill.
This is the first time we’ve tested a Sport model with a third row seat option, allowing it to transport seven passengers. It’s cramped back there, though. Even the Land Rover website suggests it for “occasional use” only. The third row can be electrically controlled to fold up or down, which is nice when you’re loading groceries from the trunk, and the second row seats can slide forward to allow for more third row legroom and access.
Still, anyone but small children will fit comfortably back there, and any adults won’t want to stay cramped back there for longer than an hour. On the bright side, the second row seats are incredibly comfortable, with sculpted shoulder bolsters, and ventilated and heated features too.
The specific model we’re testing is my personal favourite, the HSE Td6. I say that because it’s the most cost-efficient and pragmatic model in the lineup, with a turbodiesel V6 under the hood producing a disappointing 254 hp but an eye-opening 440 lb-ft of torque.
There’s a bit of lag when you step on the throttle, but it fades to distant memory once the surge of low-end power comes through, propelling this hunk of an SUV from 0-100 km/h just 0.4 seconds slower than the supercharged gasoline V6 equivalent. The diesel is exceptional and more than enough for the everyday grind. I never found myself expecting or wanting anything more from the powertrain. The 8-speed shifted imperceptibly, and the traction controls were all left on AUTO for the computers to sort it out themselves.
The main temptation for choosing the diesel is for fuel economy. To give you an example, when I picked up the car from Mississauga, I drove 50 kilometres back to Markham via Highway 401 and 404. I averaged a clean 7.6 L/100km - that’s equivalent to your run-of-the-mill Hyundai Elantra. Not only is that impressive, it’s convincing.
Yeah, V6 and V8 gasoline engines are nice too, with superchargers for instant acceleration and burly exhaust noises, but the last V8-powered Range Rover Sport we had averaged a pitiful 15.5 L/100km over seven days of city and highway driving.
The ride is really what sets it apart from the competition. The Rover is so supple, floaty, and relatively softer than the firm Germans. Potholes that would normally have you cringe in anticipation will be nothing more than tickles up the spine. Without opting for the Extra Duty Package ($1,650), which includes continuously variable dampers, you won’t be able to adjust the firmness of the suspension like you can in the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE, but I found the air suspension to be well-sorted enough to skip that option.
The one tradeoff with the Rover’s overly compliant ride is the body roll that follows. There’s less control than you would expect for such a heavy SUV, and spirited drivers may find that it lacks the agility of the X5 or Cayenne.
Overall, the Range Rover commands quite a premium over its competitors, ranging from the base SE model ($77,000) all the way up to range-topping SVR ($127,500). Our diesel-powered HSE model started at a more modest $84,500, and is frankly the option I’d look at before test driving the supercharged engines. Both power and fuel economy are exceptional - a rarity in this segment unless you’re looking for electrification options like the plug-in X5 or XC90. Diesels may have a bad rep these days, but the Range Rover Sport shows that they aren’t going without a fight.
型号 Model: 2017 Range Rover Sport HSE Td6
顏色 Paint Type: Firenze Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $84,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $96,300
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,923
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,856 / 2,220 / 1,780
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,136
引擎 Engine: LR-TDV6 3.0-litre V6 (turbocharged diesel)
最大馬力 Horsepower: 254 hp @ 4,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 440 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.5 / 8.0 / 9.4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.1