Length matters, even in names. So the six-named 2014 Range Rover Sport V6 Supercharged HSE ought to blow your argyle socks clean off. Not since the Cadillac Sedan de Ville Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance of 1977 has a vehicle worn as long a total title as this Range Rover’s. And yet, more than a mouthful on the full window sticker is only appropriate because in the grandest sense, this Range Rover Sport covers multiple bases.
Considering that the Range Rover Sport represents the bulk of the company’s sales in the U.S., they dare not take big risks or trifle with success. Last year, Land Rover sold 15,976 Range Rover Sports here, netting 32% of all Land Rover’s sales. It also represents 24% of all Jaguar Land Rover sales. You could say the Sport is JLR’s most important model. Bread and butter never looked so spiffy.
Until this year, the Range Rover Sport was based on the heavier ladder frame architecture of the Land Rover LR4. In the transformation from 2013 to all-new 2014 Sport, the SUV now enjoys the all-aluminum unit-body platform of the top-of-the-range Range Rover; the big guy. Since it is now aluminum and Jaguar Land Rover is now officially and admirably obsessed with trimming weight wherever possible in all its models, weight drops off by about 800 pounds. Light weight is a vehicle’s own reward in efficiency, straight-line performance and handling agility. One of two consequences occur from a performance standpoint: 1) keep the higher-power stuff of old and it becomes a rocket ship with far less weight to tow around, or; 2) dial back the engine power, braking power and the suspension’s rates of springing and roll resistance and it will perform the same. Actually, Range Rover opted to keep some and change some, and introduced this V6 Supercharged model, using the very eager 340-hp 3.0-liter V6 from the Range Rover’s distant cousin, the Jaguar F-Type.
2014 Range Rover Sport V6 Supercharged HSE Specifications:
|Vehicle type:||5-door SUV|
|Seating capacity:||5 passengers|
|Price as tested:||$76,820|
|Engine:||3.0-liter supercharged V6; DOHC; 24 valves; 340 hp / 332 lb-ft of torque|
|Transmission/drive:||8-speed automatic / four-wheel-drive with electronic transfer case, low range|
|0-60 mph:||6.9 sec|
|Top speed:||130 mph|
|Curb weight:||4,727 lbs.|
|Fuel economy, mpg:||17 city / 23 hwy / 19 combined|
The Sport is wider and longer than before, in seeming contradiction to the 800-pound weight loss. Because of the extra length, Range Rover can squeeze in an optional third seat row where none existed before. The Range Rover Sport also gains a new eight-speed automatic transmission and electric-assisted rack-and-pinion steering from the larger Range Rover.
It tackles the dash to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds, three-tenths quicker than last year’s base model with its 375-hp V8 engine. The 510-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 continues in another Sport model variant.
Thanks to the big diet, the revised steering and suspension, plus the eight-speed transmission, the new Sport displays an unpredicted eagerness and adaptability to roads that would challenge some aspiring sports sedans. But, this being a Range Rover, fording a three-foot-deep muddy two-track trail is just as important and the Sport can still play that game better than any other luxury off-roader. It’s new Terrain Response four-wheel-drive system uses a bevy of sensors, computers and mechanicals to analyze the terrain and determine which setting of five (general; grass-gravel-snow; mud-ruts; sand; rock crawl) is best for the conditions. Four different ride heights from the air suspension are possible as well. An active rear-locking differential, torque vectoring from side to side by brake application and active roll control all snappily salute the driver and stand on point to maximize the traction available and heighten good driving character.
Inside, high-quality materials, a commanding view and thoughtful details are everywhere, like the felt-lined slot in the center console perfectly sized to hug an iPhone or Android device. The touch-screen display in the center of the dash makes dedicated switches for the ventilation and infotainment systems superfluous and become familiar over time.
The new Range Rover Sport is a bigger vehicle than last year’s, but it defies any extra perceived size from behind the wheel. In fact, it feels more lithe due to the weight loss, updated suspension architecture and steering. Many electric-assist steering systems now being employed by many manufacturers return a numb, distant sense of what’s actually happening at the road surface. The Sport’s reports the news quite fully and with speed, thanks to a quick ratio.
Starting at $62,600, this year’s base price rise of about $2,000 over last year’s is small, considering the all-new platform and aluminum-intensive construction yielding a much-improved SUV.
Our tester ran up options of about $14,000 to an as-tested total of $76,820, including the HSE trim (special perforated leather, sliding panoramic roof, 20-inch alloy wheels and special interior trim choices between several woods or aluminum); the Terrain Response 2 system with transfer case; multi-adjustable heated and cooled front seats; adaptive headlights that swivel with steering input; and a fine 825-watt/19-speaker Meridian audio system. Despite the $14,000 cost in these extras, every one of them felt worth it.
“Worth it.” There’s a potential ad slogan that justly fits.
– By: Jim Resnick
– Photos: Jim Resnick