AOL Cars' Road Test of the Year: Range Rover Sport


AOL Cars' Road Test of the Year: Range Rover Sport

This latest installment of our Road Test of the Year sees the brand new Range Rover Sport vying to make a case for itself. James Batchelor is your guide to the latest product from a newly resurgent Jaguar Land Rover.

I wasn't too worried about the Vauxhall Astra van that had boorishly pulled out in front of me moments before. And neither was the driver, for he knew that the road leading up to the peaks of the Brecon Beacons was only really suitable for single-file traffic - the road's characteristic turns, cambers and rises making overtaking an ugly affair.

That would be the case for a normal car, but Range Rover's new Sport is far from being so depressingly ordinary. It's the product of a frighteningly confident company that is finally building cars with few compromises.

It's also the first Range Rover Sport to actually earn the prerogative of using its master's famous name. It's a common tale that the old, first-generation Sport was a symbol of pre-recession days - all image and money but lacking in any real substance. Its Land Rover Discovery 3 underpinnings had so little to do with a Range Rover it was almost offensive. But there's no doubt it worked, for the Solihull factory churned out sizeable numbers of them to image-conscious buyers across the world.

That's all changed now - and for the better. The chassis is the same used on the Range Rover, and despite the new Sport being longer and wider than the model before it, it's an incredible 433kg lighter. This, with the prodigious 510bhp 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine under the bonnet, makes the Range Rover Sport perform in ways it shouldn't in environments such as these. It's remarkably agile and boasts comfort levels to rival anything costing twice as much.

But such fine words weren't going to help me get past Astra man. The walkie talkie - a staple piece of equipment on any group test - rudely interrupted my thought process and James Baggott's voice crackled: 'Are you gonna get past him or what?'

AOL Cars' RTOTY: Range Rover Sport

AOL Cars' RTOTY: Range Rover Sport

And with that he blasted past in the F-Type like a First World War fighter pilot - teeth gritted and hunched down in his leather seat.

My hand moved to the centre console, home to the adjustable driving dynamics knob. Push it down and it rises, allowing you to select various driving modes - all I was interested in was 'Dynamic'. Press this and the car changes its spots. It gets tighter, harder and far more focused.

A check of the mirror and within milliseconds I was ruthlessly launched past the Astra. Another quick look in the mirror revealed the Cayman S pulling the same manoeuvre, but by this time the Vauxhall was all too familiar with the attitude of this convoy to the Beacons: fast.

Range Rover Sport

Price: £91,000 (as tested)
Engine: 5.0-litre, V8, supercharged, petrol
Power: 510bhp, 625Nm
Max speed: 155mph (limited)
0-60mph: 5.0s
MPG (combined): 22.1
Emissions: 298g/km CO2