You would have thought the Range Rover Sport is the perfect car for me, but when I’ve had the chance to drive the current-shape one, I’ve enjoyed it, but opted elsewhere when push comes to cheque book.
I’ve also driven lots of the competition in this sporty SUV segment, from BMW to Porsche, and I have to admit that none of them have floated my boat. Off-roaders should be tall to clear obstacles and have multi-purpose tyres. If you try to turn a 4×4 into a sportscar, you have to do three things to it that in my view render it entirely useless. Firstly, you have to fit a hugely thirsty petrol engine to make up for its aerodynamic inefficiency. Then you have to fit enormous anti-roll bars to stop it falling over in corners, which ruin the ride. Finally, you have to fit road-biased tyres to give it precise steering feel and on-road grip, which in turn take away virtually all of its off-road ability.
The styling of the Range Rover Sport is one of luxury combined with practicality.
So, I’ll admit I approached the all-new new Range Rover Sport with a little trepidation. Its big brother Rangie is wonderful, possibly the best car in the world at the moment, so what if JLR’s engineers had wrecked it turning it into the Range Rover Sport?
The initial signs are good. Unlike the last one, which shared its platform with the Discovery, this one is closely related to its more expensive stablemate, with all the attendant gains in lightweight aluminium technology. Its styling is crisp and modern but not too flashy, with just the right amount of Evoque and an appreciably more sporting stance than its big brother.
Inside, it’s only a little less luxurious and quite a lot sportier, with the added benefit of having two fold-out seats in the boot for kids.
On the move, it is almost immediately obvious that Land Rover is onto a winner. The Range Rover Sport has a comfortable flowing gait, tauter than the Rangey, but still properly comfortable. The supercharged petrol version sounds fabulous and is really very quick but the V6 diesel variety, due to an almost 20 per cent weight saving over the outgoing model, is plenty fast enough for virtually every overtaking opportunity. Next year you’ll be able to get a V8 diesel, a hybrid or even a 2.0 litre diesel version.
In here you are master of all terrain, from muddy hills to the M69.
And I can testify it has genuine off-road capability too. I drove it along rivers over three-feet deep; I drove it up wet, muddy slopes so bad you could see nothing but sky and bonnet and which coated the whole wheel, not just the tyre, in glutinous mud. I drove it down slopes steeper than a black run.
The new Range Rover Sport is very, very good off road, and yet is really entertaining on it. And it is comfortable. And it seats seven. And it looks good. And it’s good value. I know I’m writing beautiful prose but why are you still reading this? Put the magazine down, pick up the phone to your nearest Land Rover dealer and order one right away.
Specifications for the Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 SE 258hp Auto
Top speed: 130mph
C0₂ emission: 194 g/km
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/bensamuelson