Let’s go exploring in the Range Rover Sport

Born on a beach in England in 1947 the Land Rover was a rugged, utility vehicle that has gone on to carry people to the remotest parts of the world. In 1970 the first Range Rover came into being and combined that go-anywhere vehicle with a new level of luxury. Fifty years on and there are now four variants in the Range Rover model line-up going from the smallest SUV, the Evoque, to the largest and original Range Rover model. I recently drove the mid-sized Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE.

The SDV6 has a 3.0L V6 diesel engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces 225kW of power and a whopping 700Nm of torque. This helps propel the 2.2 tonne SUV from 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds, and would be of great assistance towing the 3.5 tonnes that the Range Rover Sport is capable of doing. The official combined fuel economy is 7.8L/100km and for my week I used 11.3L/100km, which is slightly less than the V6 petrol-powered SUVs I have previously driven.

The diesel engine is very quiet and you get no sense inside the cabin that the engine is even running. It has good acceleration when needed combined with a smooth, quiet ride that is comfortable, but not wallowy.

The front seats are comfortable and have 16-way power adjustment, are heated and three memory positions for both the driver and passenger. There is a big door storage cubby for long items, but it’s hard to get a drink bottle in and out. I also still don’t understand why the window controls in Land Rover/Range Rover SUVs are on the top of the door? The other design issue in the front was the mat on the driver’s side that does not sufficiently cover the floor, so if you had muddy shoes on you would get the carpet dirty.

The utilitarian nature of the Range Rover is evident in the cabin design. There is a large storage area under the arm rest that has a two stage opening. The top ledge under the arm rest is ideally sized for smartphone storage and when you lift up to reveal the deep storage cubby your phone will not fall out. This storage cubby easily swallows a full-sized drink bottle and you have two USB ports, one 12V outlet and a micro-sim for internet access. You also get an upper and lower gloveboxes with electric opening and a double sun visor, one for the front and one for the side.

The Range Rover Sport comes with two touch pro screens, the lower screen displays drive modes and climate control selections. There are seven drive modes to choose from Auto, Eco, Comfort, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl. I wasn’t able to switch through the drive modes using the touch screen and had to use the rotary control knob.

The top screen is a 10” touchscreen for the rest of your car controls and displays the standard rear camera, which has 360o sensors that annoyingly default ‘off’, so you need to remember to run them on when you want to use them. You get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard and Jaguar-style ten coloured ambient lighting. Both of these screens get bad finger marks and attract dust, so if this bothers you then keep a micro-fibre cloth in the cubby under the arm rest. The voice control works well for making calls, but you cannot set sat nav destination using it as this feature is not available on Australian models. I have become more used to the steering wheel controls in Range Rovers, but I am still not keen on them.

There is plenty of leg and head room for two adults in the rear seats of the Sport, but you would not fit three adults in the back. The central seat folds down and the arm rest has two drink holders that are only shallow in depth. There is a large drink bottle storage cubby in the rear doors, but their shape means that you can’t easily pull a drink bottle in and out and you would end up badly scratching the plastic.

There are rear air vents in the back of the centre console with speed control only. Here you will also find two USB ports, one 12V outlet and a good ledge for the storage of smartphones. Conveniently the mat that is across the floor in the rear is a continuous length as there is only a small bump where the transmission tunnel, meaning it is easy to take out for cleaning.

The rear seats have a 60/40 split fold mechanism, but the centre seat also folds down independently so you can store longer items through the boot. The Sport has two ISOFIX/three child seat restraint points, but there is a problem with the location of the rear tether points; they are too low down so it is hard to clip/unclip your seat.

The boot is a good size and will easily fit the pram and the weekly shop and to help you load the shopping you can raise and lower the back of the Rangie using buttons in the boot. There are four hooks for hanging up bags, four tie down points and one 12V outlet. To show that Range Rover is genuine about owners using the Sport for off-roading you get a full-sized spare wheel. I really liked that the roller blind that covers the boot has a runner to slide in, which makes it easier the go in and out.

My Rangie was fitted with the optional Drive Pro Pack ($5,910) which includes Blind Spot Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Condition Monitor, High-speed Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limiter. The Lane Keep Assist technology is not as good as other car manufacturers as it ‘chops’ rather than being smooth in its intervention. In reality though a SUV costing as much as the Range Rover Sport should have this technology fitted as standard rather than as an optional extra and Land Rover Australia have announced that a Special Edition MY20 Range Rover Sport SDV6 will have it fitted at no extra cost. There is no official ANCAP or Euro NCAP ratings for the Range Rover Sport. It comes with front impact, side impact and overhead airbags for increased occupant safety.

All new Range Rovers come with a three years/100,000 km warranty and you get 24/7 roadside assistance for the period of your warranty included. For service cost peace of mind you can purchase a service plan for the diesel-powered Sport for $2,450 that covers standard service costs for five years/130,000km.

There is a lot of competition in the mid-size SUV segment, but what the Range Rover Sport offers that other’s do not is off-road cred thanks to its Land Rover heritage. The Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE starts at $136,700 and as tested my SUV was $144,410. Visit your preferred Land Rover dealer to explore the Range Rover Sport for yourself.

Pros Cons
Land Rover heritage Driver aids should be fitted as standard
Quiet and powerful diesel engine Location of rear tether points in boot
Comfortable and quiet ride Drink bottle storage is impractical

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine