Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8

Road Tests/Car Reviews: 2014 Range Rover Sport SDV8

range-rover-sdv8-2014-front The Range Rover Sport is a sleeker, meaner entry point into the Range Rover experience. When you want a Range Rover with all the frills, but you want it forty grand cheaper than an actual Range Rover, the Sport fills that gap.

It might fill the gap far too well because, even though I haven’t driven a new Range Rover in comparison, I can’t imagine why you’d want to spend that extra money when the Sport is so damn good.

It looks better, for one. The Sport has the eyes of a ninja and a sleeker body. On the inside you want for nothing. Our test car was loaded with options which added $20,200 to the base price, but you’re not far above the base model in an actual Range Rover for that money.

range-rover-sdv8-2014-ventsLet’s start with the aural assault. The Range Rover Sport has excellent sound deadening so, while you do hear that big diesel V8 firing away, it’s not intrusive. Our car was fitted with the optional Meridian Surround Audio System – 825W of stupendous clarity with solid bass performance and excellent separation. As an ex-audio engineer, I will vouch for this system being one of the better ones that I’ve experienced.

Everything is controlled via a large touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The instrument cluster is no longer a set of analogue dials but a large screen, too, with representations of dials.

Despite being smaller than a Range Rover, it’s still huge; mostly height and range-rover-sdv8-2014-suspension-controlwidth because it’s still shorter than many sedans, but it’s over 2m wide not including the wing mirrors. You can see the top of other SUVs, too, and that’s before you raise the suspension up to 65mm, which you can do in the off-road modes. But it doesn’t feel like it when you are driving it at pace. There’s a lot of electronic help rendered behind the scenes to help pull you through the twisty bits. There’s nicely weighted steering, and trick differentials to help you around the corners.

I don’t remember driving another car where you are so confidently disconnected from the road. This is usually a bad thing. We always talk range-rover-sdv8-2014-off-road-modeabout how we want to feel the road through the steering wheel. This is different. The Range Rover Sport makes you feel like a general in perfect command of an elite fighting force from afar; you simply command the moves from the comfort of the war room, confident that they will be executed efficiently and a report delivered to your desk while you sip your Dalmore 62.

While many other diesels have an annoying lag before the acceleration kicks in, the Range Rover Sport has a gargantuan battalion of torque available from virtually nothing: 700Nm from the 4.4-litre V8 diesel ensures that the Range Rover’s 2.36-tonne mightiness takes off like an Exocet and will reach 100kph in 6.9 seconds, assisted by rapid changes from the 8-speed automatic.

It is more economical than the previous version. Range Rover quotes 8.7l/100km combined and I managed 11.1l/100km because I was quite happy to use the big guns frequently.

range-rover-sdv8-2014-boot-spaceBoot space is large: 784 litres with the rear seats up and 1761 litres with them folded flat. There’s ample legroom in the rear, and the rear seats in our test car has the optional heating/cooling package.

With the level of comfort and refinement it’s easy to forget that the Range Rover is actually an off-road machine, albeit one the price of four Invercargill houses. Consequently I only tried it on some lumpy sand. I could almost hear it sniggering with the ease at which it pulled through. There are other modes for ruts, rock crawling, and so on, and you can wade in water up to 850mm deep, but you’re not going to get far off-road on the optional 22-inch wheels that came on our test vehicle.

range-rover-sdv8-2014-rear-quarterGiven the Range Rover Sport puts in such a stellar performance, is there anything wrong? In short: not much, and it’s fairly minor. Adaptive cruise control and automatic braking is a $4000 option (seems a little expensive for something that comes as standard on a Ford Mondeo Titanium). Maybe the branded puddle lights were going a bit too far. There’s only six airbags whereas I would have expected a driver’s knee airbag.  It still gets a 5-star crash test rating, though.

While it doesn’t live up to its ‘Sport’ moniker, it’s not exactly a slouch. Sure, some of its rivals are a little faster, but in terms of refinement, equipment, practicality and comfort, I don’t think any of the immediate competitors exceed the Range Rover Sport. I could write another 900 words describing all the features of the Range Rover Sport, but that is done eloquently in their brochure. Suffice to say that if my daily battle was one that required travelling, the Range Rover Sport would be a serious contender for my weapon of choice.

Price: $155,000 standard, $175,200 as tested with 22” wheels, front cooler compartment, 3-zone climate control, climate controlled rear seats, heated steering wheel, Blind Spot Monitor with Close Vehicle Sensing, Grand Black Lacquer finish, luxury pack, 825W Meridian Surround Audio System, panoramic roof, rear seat load through, sunvisor (dual and illuminated), tow hitch receiver, and comfort pack.


Immense comfort

Power to spare

Looks the part


Options are pricey

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