BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
On test: Range Rover Sport Supercharged review (2006 onwards model)
Model: Range Rover Sport SuperchargedBodystyle: 5dr 4x4Engine: 4.2-litre 8-cylinder supercharged PetrolTransmission: 6-speed automaticDate of Test: September 2005
What is it?
This is the all-new sports touring SUV from Land Rover, the best performing and best handling vehicle it has ever built. It’s pitched firmly at the massively successful BMW X5, which showed that you can sacrifice a lot of the off-road agility of large 4x4s if the vehicle turns out better to drive on the tarmac, although Land Rover here aims for both. There’s a twist with this new model. It’s more a Range Rover in spirit than substance, for beneath the scoops and badges the chassis is that of the new Discovery. That’s no bad thing at all, for the Disco has more advanced engineering than the older Range Rover.
Where does it fit?
This top-line model, with its 4.2-litre, 390bhp supercharged V8 engine is aimed at the X5 4.8iS and also the new Mercedes M-Class AMG. A staggering £60k is the asking price for this version, though you can buy a diesel from around £35,000. One way to look at the Sport is that you get the Range Rover cachet and luxury for at least £6k less. Another is that the roomier Discovery can be yours for an even lower figure. Neither alternative has the promise of sports car driving in an off-roader, though.
What does it do well?
It’s fast, boy is it fast. The Sport may weigh in at two and a half tonnes, but floor that throttle and the 385bhp does it roaring, supercharger-whining best to thrust you away over the horizon at an unseemly rate. 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds is new territory for most for-wheel-drive users. The 20-inch wheels and 275 width tyres, massive Brembo brakes, all coupled to Land Rover’s high advanced Dynamic Response suspension system, means this Range Rover can really be driven with vengeance. The grip seems never ending and the body roll, a traditional issue with tall off-roaders, has been dramatically diminished. From the driver's seat it’s all good too, great support, and a fine environment.
What doesn’t it do well?
In this supercharged version, it drinks like a fish. 12 mpg is a common sight on the computer read out, although on a long run, at steady speeds and with a careful right foot, as much as 17 mpg overall proved possible. Trouble is, to get that level of economy you would have been just as well off in the 2.7-litre twin-turbo diesel version. The suspension system that works so well from the driver’s point of view is purgatory for those in the back seats. The hard ride, firm seats and lack of sideways support means rear passengers need to hang on if they are to avoid sliding about.
What’s it like to live with?
The commanding driving position of 4x4s has a lot of appeal for many drivers, but the Range Rover Sport also scores because its air suspension can be raised up for serious off-road work or dropped right down to make access to the seats rather easier. To drive in testing conditions, the simple control behind the gearlever presets the traction, transmission and suspension to one of five conditions – any fool can use it, or the hill descent control that stops things running away with themselves on scary slopes. There’s a fridge between the front seats, though storage space within easy reach of the driver is lacking. The rear tailgate window opens separately, which is convenient to drop things through – as long as you are tall enough to see in. This version gets a terrific Harmon Kardon hi-fi system, but the controls for this and the satellite navigation are far from intuitive. There are even xenon headlights that see around corners. The boot is a good size and the back seats are heavy but straightforward to fold. The rear parcel shelf is unforgivably fiddly to deal with and only the driver’s window is one-shot, a penny-pinching move.
Would we buy it?
Certainly not. While there are cars that do justify their very high price, the high performance 4x4 – this one, and certain Cayennes, X5s and M-Class – don’t fall into this category. The insanity of the fuel consumption surely can’t be remotely justified on any level, while Land Rover’s search for dynamic handling has compromised the Sport’s ride far too much. If you really want some fun, buy a Boxster and with the change get an entry-level diesel Discovery.
More Car Research
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 23/05/13, Duration 4:17, Views 613