Behind the glitz, glamour and famous A-listers at one of the most extravagant car launches of all time there was one real star – the new Range Rover Sport.
One of Land Rover's most important models, the Sport has notched up nearly 304,000 worldwide sales since it arrived in 2005. Now, following the successful births of the Evoque and Range Rover, it's the racy middle brother's time to shine.
Based on the same aluminium platform as the Range Rover – but with 75 per cent of the parts changed – the Sport ushers in an Evoque-esque look, clever new technology, and some seriously impressive statistics.
Let's start with those stats (it is a Sport after all). Powering the top of the range model is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, producing 503bhp and 625Nm of torque. With a tuned exhaust system, it sounds incredible as it powers its way to 60mph in five seconds flat.
The popular SDV8 diesel unit also makes a welcome return. With 332bhp and a mighty 700Nm of torque, it can crack 60mph in 6.5 seconds. There are further diesel and petrol units to pick from, but of more interest will be the hybrid which is set to arrive later this year and combines a 3.0-litre diesel engine with a 50kw battery – a big leap forward for the model.
However, it's that weight saving that Land Rover says will have a dramatic affect on the driving dynamics. The promotional video (below) shows the car power-sliding around a rally course and on the race track and Land Rover is adamant it's just at home in either situations.
Clever new technology on the Range Rover Sport includes an iPhone and Android app that lets you connect with the car. It can guide you back to where you parked it, tell you how much fuel is left, file company car mileages via email and even alert you if it thinks it's about to be nicked.
The clever kit includes in-car wi-fi for up to eight devices, a tracking system to aid recovery and the ability to dial emergency services and alert them to your location in the event of a crash.
A camera on the front of the car reads road signs as you pass them – displaying speed limits and over-taking restrictions on the dash – and there's a head-up display that shows speed and navigation instructions.
Parking scrapes can also be avoided with a warning system that tells you if a car is coming while reversing out of a bay and an alarm can tell you if you're wading too deep in the water (a dip in anything over 850mm could result in big bills).
Larger families will be pleased to hear there's now a seven-seat option too. The seats are only really for kids, but electrically rise and lower from the flat floor. The tailgate is also electrically powered, while the doors now have a soft-close option, just like your kitchen drawers.
Inside the designers have worked hard to make it even more luxurious – with more metal on show and a higher, wraparound dash. The centre console is even chilled – and fits a full bottle of champagne in it. Perfect for the target market... There's a 23-speaker stereo system and rear seat entertainment options, too.
Pricing, as you'd expect, is rather premium. The top-of-the-range supercharged V8 costs £81,550 with entry level models a "more affordable" £51,550. Time to visit the bank manager we reckon... because this is one highly desirable car.
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