Land Rover has released the first official pictures of the new Range Rover Sport, the best-performing and best-handling vehicle the manufacturer has ever built.
Powered in top-line form by a supercharged 287kW [390hp in North America] V8 engine, the Range Rover Sport is designed to combine “invigorating” dynamic ability with comfort and refinement.
“The Range Rover Sport is an additional, fifth nameplate for the Land Rover brand,” says Matthew Taylor, Managing Director of Land Rover. “It takes us into the growing performance SUV market but is different from all rivals. We see it as a less frenetic, more refined alternative to existing performance SUVs. It is ideal for fast, comfortable, long-distance driving and practical enough for everyday use. Yet it is also exceptional off-road, offering better all-terrain ability than any competitor. Like all Land Rover products, it offers the broadest range of capability in its class.”
“It also perfectly complements the existing Range Rover – the luxury SUV. Range Rover Sport is more compact and will be priced to fit between Discovery 3/LR3 and the Range Rover in the Land Rover product range.”
The Range Rover Sport was first previewed by the Range Stormer concept vehicle, first seen at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The top-line Range Rover Sport uses a specially-developed version of Jaguar’s 4.2-litre supercharged V8 engine. Maximum power is 287kW [390hp in North America] and maximum torque 410lbft/550Nm with an electronically-limited top speed of 140mph/225km/h. Power and torque are delivered to all four wheels through a ZF six-speed ‘intelligent shift’ automatic gearbox featuring sport programming and Land Rover’s CommandShift, which offers manual control of gearchanges. Low range is electronically selectable. One of the most aerodynamic of all SUVs, the Range Rover Sport combines a smooth shape with powerful stance, muscular wheel-arches, a raked roof, and tailgate-mounted rear spoiler. Recognisable Range Rover styling cues include the ‘floating’ roof (created by the black roof pillars) and clamshell bonnet. But in the interests of improved airflow, the bonnet castellations have been smoothed away and the windscreen given a faster angle.
The Range Rover Sport has a five-door body style, with a single-piece rear aluminium tailgate that includes an opening rear glass for easy access.
Inside, it is a roomy yet sporty five-seater featuring premium materials, including leather, wood and metallic finishes. The cockpit is designed around the driver, with a high and sweeping centre console so the driver reaches across to the controls rather than down to them. The seats are sporty and supportive.
“It is the best ‘driver’s vehicle’ that Land Rover has ever made,” says Matthew Taylor. “There is the traditional Land Rover Command driving position, yet the cockpit is more cocooning than the SUV norm. We believe the emphasis on the driving experience will make the Range Rover Sport an attractive proposition to those who currently drive luxury executive cars, as well as the more sporty 4x4s, thanks to its overall refinement and unmatched breadth of capability.”
Although developed with greater emphasis on on-road performance than any previous Land Rover, the Range Rover Sport remains competent across all terrains. Its off-road capability is boosted by Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which is standard on all models. It allows the driver to choose one of five terrain settings via a rotary control on the centre console. Terrain Response then automatically selects the most appropriate settings for the vehicle’s electronic controls and traction aids – including ride height, engine torque response, Hill Descent Control, electronic traction control and transmission settings.
Land Rover’s new and unique Integrated Body-frame structure, first seen on Discovery 3/LR3, has now been tailored for the Range Rover Sport to reinforce the vehicle’s sporting character. This includes a six-inch/14cm shorter wheelbase (108inches/275cm) for improved agility. Four-corner air suspension is standard on all models. The double-wishbone suspension has been designed for sporty ride and handling, especially when cornering, and the speed-proportional variable ratio steering allows low-speed agility, while providing stability during high-speed cruising.
Land Rover’s new Dynamic Response system senses cornering forces and acts to optimise body control and handling performance. Dynamic Response, making its debut on the Range Rover Sport, is standard on supercharged models, and optional on the others. The system decouples off-road, to allow greater wheel articulation during tough all-terrain driving.
In keeping with its ‘driver’s pedigree’, key work on the chassis tuning of Range Rover Sport was completed at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, in addition to the usual rigorous on-road and off-road Land Rover development programme. Advanced electronic safety aids include Electronic Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist and Dynamic Stability Control. On the supercharged version, four-piston Brembo front brakes help give superb braking ability.
In addition to the supercharged engine used in the top-line Range Rover Sport, two further Jaguar-derived engines are available (depending on market): a normally aspirated 220kW [300hp in North America], 4.4-litre petrol engine and the all-new 2.7-litre turbocharged V6 diesel. All engines have been extensively developed to meet Land Rover specifications, including improved waterproofing for wading, extra dust protection, and the ability to handle the extreme angles demanded in tough off-roading. A six-speed automatic gearbox, with a sports mode and low range is standard. It automatically and ‘intelligently’ adapts itself to the individual driver’s style, to increase driving pleasure for the enthusiast.
Practical technologies available on the Range Rover Sport include adaptive cruise control (its first Land Rover application), bi-xenon adaptive front lighting, and latest generation satellite navigation, both on- and off-road. Audio systems by harman/kardon® and a twin-screen DVD rear-seat entertainment system, with high-resolution screens enclosed in the front seat head rests, are available.
The Range Rover Sport makes its world debut in January 2005 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The vehicle will be available from mid-2005 in Europe and North America, and later in other markets.