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A Range Rover that handles like a Jaguar

Range Rover Sport reborn as faster and more refined driving machine

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Published : 2014-03-02 19:44
Updated : 2014-03-02 19:54

When I was offered the 2014 Range Rover Sport for a test-drive, it was hard not to be intimidated by the size. Even though the Sport is smaller than its brother Range Rover, it is still a mighty big engine.

But slipping into the luxurious cabin, my intimidation quickly turned into self-assurance. The high seating position offered excellent visibility, and with it my confidence also rose.

The handling was so sharp and light that it was hard to believe I was driving a car of such scale, but it all makes sense when you think about why the Range Rover Sport was created in the first place.

Range Rover Sport ― Design: ★★★★☆ / Interior: ★★★★★ / Performance: ★★★★☆ / Fuel economy: ★★★☆☆ / Cost and A/S: ★★★☆☆

The vehicle is the second-generation of the smaller but sportier Range Rover SUV, and all the improvements of the fully redesigned Sport start with a diet.

It has lost 420 kilograms as it shares a new all-aluminum chassis with the standard-size Range Rover. The car is faster, more agile and more refined than its predecessor, according to the carmaker.

The 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine generates 292 horsepower and a torque of 61.2 kilograms per meter. It takes only 7.2 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour.

The downsizing, along with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, also results in a higher fuel economy rating of 10.6 kilometers per liter. For those who still feel thirsty, the carmaker plans to introduce a diesel hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions in the coming years.

The shape is less boxy than the outgoing Sport. The overall flowing style has embraced the hip, urban design qualities from the Evoque, another member of the Range Rover family.

The interior has also been lavishly revamped. The cabin is calm and architectural, drawn to play up pure stretches of leather and aluminum. The buttons and switches have been reduced and refined as much as possible.

I watched the U.K.’s Top Gear hosts take the luxury SUV to ford streams or climb over rocks surrounded by an exotic landscape. But I believe its owners typically spend more of their time driving in town.

Of course, all Range Rover Sport models come with full-time four-wheel drive, hill descent control, hill start assist and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system.

My ride on paved roads was comfortable and controlled. The Sport was a taut, agile machine that tackles corners smoothly.

I could enjoy the pure power of the V6 diesel engine with additional performance when adjusted to “dynamic mode.” The steering felt nicely weighted and accurate.

There are few SUVs of this size and weight that will be able to keep up. One key rival is the Porsche Cayenne. I think the Cayenne’s style looks sexier but the Range Rover Sport offers more virtues that SUV enthusiasts would expect. 

In Korea, the two V6 turbo-diesel and supercharged-gasoline engines are available and the base price starts from 116.8 million won ($109,414).

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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