I recently journeyed to San Francisco to attend the North American press launch of the new and much-anticipated 2014 Range Rover Sport, the smaller and less expensive member of the Range Rover family.
After a 300-mile ride and drive along some very dicey highways in the Santa Cruz Mountains and a subsequent very challenging 15-mile off-road course, I came away with a growing appreciation for this new vehicle.
Range Rover executives attending the event told me this new Sport is the fastest, mostagile and responsive Land Rover ever made and, with its all-new high-strength aluminum structure, it weighs about 800 pounds less than the last model. That weight loss allows the vehicle to deliver better agility and performance, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions.
The new Sport was developed right alongside the 2013 Range Rover, so it delivers the same on-road dynamics, as well as the fabled Land Rover all-terrain capability. The technologically advanced Sport resembles earlier Range Rover models, but has an assertive, muscular exterior, a luxurious interior and practical flexibility.
Featuring Land Rover’s breakthrough suspension design and innovative dynamic chassis technologies, the Sport has all-new aluminum unibody architecture (the previous generation had an integrated steel body-frame mounted on a full frame chassis). The resulting weight reduction enables better performance and handling, and a nice blend of comfort and luxury.
Under the hood, there’s a choice of 340 hp supercharged V-6 or a 510 hp supercharged V- 8. I drove both versions and I personally preferred the smaller engine option, though I recognize that there are off-road and highway situations when that extra power and torque come in handy. The engines are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic ZF transmission and there’s a choice of transfer cases — single speed Torsen or two-speed locking with low range.
As you might expect in a Range Rover, the new Sport has a beautifully crafted, luxurious interior and there also is a new wrinkle — a 5+2 third-row seating option for occasional use. The seats are fine for the kids, but they’re not going to be acceptable to full-size adults.
The new Sport comes with the latest advanced electronic driver assistance technologies, including standard Intelligent Stop/Start to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. There’s also the available new fully automatic Terrain Response 2 system that is amazing in its ability to handle the most challenging byways.
Four models of the 2014 Range Rover Sport are offered in the United States. They include the Sport SE for $63,495; Sport HSE, $68,495; Sport Supercharged, with the 510 hp, five-liter supercharged V-8, $79,995; and the top of the line Range Rover Sport Autobiography, with an MSRP of $93,295.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com