We spend a week with the 2010 Range Rover Sport – with the 3.0 litre Jaguar diesel lump – to review and road test it to see if the 2010 changes transform Land Rover’s sporty SUV.
It’s a remarkable 40 years this year since Land Rover introduced the world to its first luxury 4×4 – the Range Rover – and changed the car landscape forever. And despite many pretenders to its throne the Range Rover is still the ultimate SUV, and probably the only luxury 4×4 that is as at home in a field as it is on the Kings Road.
But by the time the Range Rover passed its thirtieth birthday and we moved in to a new millennium it started to see challenges to its throne from more road-oriented SUVS. The BMW X5 may not be able to shake a stick at the RR off road, but on road it made the RR look like an old hay cart. And then to add insult to injury along came the Porsche Cayenne which matched the X5 on road and came surprisingly close to being a competent off-roader. But Land Rover had the answer – the Range Rover Sport.
The only trouble was that the Range Rover Sport never quite cut the mustard for me. Based as it is on a cut-down Discovery chassis it weighs slightly more than a grouse moor, which meant it was never going to be exactly dynamic whatever you shoved under the bonnet.
The body is a pastiche of its big brother and the interior was ill-conceived and felt low-rent. It seemed like a cynical marketing move to combine the DNA of a Discovery a Range Rover and a Jaguar to answer the problems Land Rover were facing from the ‘Sporty’ SUVs hitting the market.
But despite my not inconsiderable reservations about the Range Rover Sport it has sold well. Almost too well. In some ways it’s become a victim of that sales success as it’s now perceived by many (or me, at least) to be just a WAG-mobile; a Chav-tastic mode of transport for those with more cash than class.
I can’t move more than 100 yards from my drive without coming across a black RRS with privacy glass, blingy alloys and a blonde driving with one hand with a mobile clamped to her ear with the other. And another round the next corner. And three more parked up the road. And an entire ‘Pride’ of Range Rover Sports outside school at kicking-out time.
None of which in itself makes the Range Rover Sport a bad car. It just didn’t do justice to its heritage. It’s a compromise car; a marketing product; a cashing-in.
But I want to love the Range Rover Sport. My daily drive is a Cayenne and I tried really hard to want the RRS, but ended up with the Cayenne despite my best efforts. I have a (fairly decent) one-car budget and the Cayenne did everything I wanted. Load-lugger; people mover; powerful; well-equipped and capable of doing a good impression of an M5 on stilts when I felt the urge. It will do off-road with aplomb and it scrubs up well enough to be accepted wherever I find myself. Which is what I wanted the RRS to be.
But I haven’t given up on the Range Rover Sport. Land Rover are due to introduce new, lighter aluminium platforms across their range from 2012. So I figured I would have to wait until then to get the car that the Range Rover Sport should be. But maybe not…
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