The Range Rover Sport has enjoyed success that Land Rover’s rivals would love to replicate and, for 2021, the sportier Range Rover is getting some subtle updates. The most significant of these enhancements is the arrival of a new diesel engine, badged D350, which gains mild-hybrid technology to boost efficiency and overall refinement.
It may have a less imposing image than its bigger brother, the Range Rover, but the Sport isn’t lacking in space, comfort or versatility. It comfortably seats five people while still offering up 780 litres of boot space. There’s a simplicity to the look and feel of the cabin, especially in an age of increasingly vast touchscreen displays and glossy piano black panels. It all feels put together very well and is the kind of car that can dispatch large distances with supreme ease.
How is it to drive?
Despite the road-biased form and looks, this remains a Range Rover underneath and so is capable of getting through and over conditions beneath its wheels that would leave many others going nowhere. On the road it provides a lofty driving position that many expect from a larger SUV and it feels rock solid. Don’t read too much into the Sport part of the name, though, as it isn’t quite what you’d call nimble and lithe in the bends, but it gets the job done and feels reassuringly capable on the road.
As you might expect from a large capacity diesel engine, the Range Rover Sport delivers a drive that’s dominated by its 700Nm of torque, giving it tremendous pulling power and the kind of surge forward that keeps you pressed against the comfortable leather seats. Its 350hp gives it the legs to sprint up to 100km/h in a respectable 6.9 seconds, but this is more of an SUV that’s about cruising in comfort than outright performance.
A new feature of this latest diesel engine is the 48-volt mild-hybrid system. It doesn’t allow for any engine-off coasting, as similar systems from other marques do, but there is more torque available under load, and the start-stop functionality is now much smoother.
On the move, the Range Rover is composed, though the suspension is supple, so even on the larger 21-inch wheels you won’t find the ride that jarring. Its cabin is decently insulated too, with low levels of road and wind noise getting through, and the diesel engine mostly remains but a distant burble, thanks in part to it not needing to rev highly on account of the torque. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is mostly smooth in operation and there is a multitude of drive modes to choose from according to the situation.
When is it coming to Ireland?
The Range Rover Sport D350 isn’t scheduled to go on sale in Ireland until the first half of 2021, and as yet there is no specific model pricing available.
Any juicy technology?
Once a weak link in the Land Rover’s armoury, the latest version of the company’s infotainment system is bang up to date and features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, with the option of a built-in Wi-Fi connection that up to eight devices can join.
It also now features Spotify embedded into the infotainment system, allowing for an even better user experience. In line with these pandemic times, the Range Rover Sport also uses a high-grade air filtration system that prevents fine dust particles and allergens from entering the cabin, adding to a cleaner environment inside.
In reality, you’re not likely to notice a great improvement in fuel economy with the mild-hybrid Range Rover Sport, but given its high emissions and therefore taxation, chances are buyers won’t mind. It remains a car that is far more capable than most will ever need, and retains a traditional premium quality feel throughout.