THE message was not to drink and drive. That was quite obvious, given that the program involved no driving at all.
Instead, the recent launch of the all-new Land Rover Range Rover Sport in the Philippines was marked by a seven-course meal that paired single-malt whiskys with food—seemingly disparate pleasures. But it succinctly captured the bipolarity of the latest Range Rover Sport, which pairs luxury and performance—seemingly disparate features—in about equal measure.
While Land Rover Phils. Motors Inc. (LRPhils), together with spirits distributor Diageo Reserve, pushed this concept of indulgence as a “different way of launching a car,” as LRPhils Executive Director Marc Soong said, it also suited the character of the Range Rover Sport. Because compared to model’s bigger sibling, the Range Rover, the Sport-appended one gives off a much youthful, more dynamic vibe. Where the flagship Range Rover is regal and aristocratic, the Range Rover Sport is royalty that rocks, managing to be stylish without evoking images of Posh Spice. Because then that would be the Land Rover Evoque.
Only on its second generation, the Range Rover Sport sequel debuted on the world stage in March 2013 at the New York auto show. The new model now lives up to its Sport tag, having ditched the platform which the original shared with the Land Rover Discovery—an SUV that has genuine go-anywhere, off-road credentials. Mostly, this is because the latest model has shed more than 400 kilograms, thanks to an all-new, high-strength aluminum structure. The result, according to Land Rover, is the fastest, most agile and responsive model to wear its green oval badge, and one that throws in fuel efficiency and lower emissions to the mix. That’s what lightness affords.
The latest Range Rover Sport’s lighter structure is propped by new double wishbones in front and multilinks at the rear, complemented by an air suspension on all four corners. The system promises to bring better on- and off-road capabilities to the car, reducing body roll when cornering and allowing for varying ride heights, according to Land Rover. New steering and Land Rover’s upgraded Dynamic Response, Adaptive Dynamics, Active Rear Locking Differential, Torque Vectoring by Braking, Terrain Response and a host of driver-assist systems purport to help the Range Rover Sport in the athletics department.
Four engines are offered with the new car—3.0-liter, 335hp, supercharged, gasoline V6; 3.0-liter, 288hp, diesel V6; 4.4-liter, 334hp, diesel V8; and the top dog 5.0-liter, supercharged, gasoline V8 that makes 503hp. Each of these can be paired to an eight-speed, paddle-shifter-equipped, ZF automatic transmission that, Land Rover guaranteed, “delivers outstanding performance with immediate responses and a dynamic and connected character.” Standard to the power plants is an engine stop/start system that helps in cutting down fuel consumption and emissions, specifically in stop-and-go driving.
Sending the power from the transmission to the wheels are two types of transfer cases—a single-speed Torsen or a two-speed locking with low range systems. Wheel size depends on variants but 19s are common. These are grabbed by Brembo calipers in front—six-pots in the 5.0-liter variant’s case, where larger discs also reside.
A Range Rover’s USP, of course, is British luxury. So despite the extra tag in its name, the Range Rover Sport is not lacking when it comes to pricey accouterments.
Its leathered cabin is now classified as a “5+2,” meaning there’s ample seating for five, with extra perches, however pinched, for two aft of the backseat. Land Rover said noise and harshness entering the cabin are minimal, a result of advanced acoustic work.
What sounds that go into the car are engine notes piped in via speakers and from exclusive audio systems that Land Rover developed with Meridian. A connectivity package also makes its way into the Range Rover Sport, which uses Bluetooth to link mobile phones and iPods, all controlled through an eight-inch touch screen panel or buttons on the steering wheel. Voice recognition, USB port and memory sticks? Check.
As are quad-zone climate control, full-size sliding panoramic glass roof, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, a rear seat entertainment package that has twin video screens and a dedicated remote control, configurable mood lighting, power tailgate, smart key system enabling keyless entry and start, soft door-close and center console cooler, among a slew of other stuff. There is no lack of active and passive safety systems either.
Clearly then, in the new Range Rover Sport’s case, posh and performance make for a perfect pairing.