Land Rover - Range Rover Sport Supercharged

It wasn’t the bush country on a safari, but driving a Land Rover around the back woods of East Texas was a very enjoyable drive How could anyone not enjoy a new Range Rover with all the premium touches and luxury appointments? Fortunately, a test model was furnished for a full week’s driving experience.

The test model was a light colored model called Ipanema Sand. The interior trim was almost all leather, dyed beautiful contrasting Almond and Nutmeg colors. The Sport model is not a new vehicle in the Land Rover lineup, but the 2010 model has had some major changes and upgrades. The changes are not easily seen from the outside, and maybe that is a good thing. Loyalists to the Range Rover want it to look squared off and boxy. That classic strong-stance appearance is tough-looking. Most of the changes are under the hood or on the inside.

The Range Rover Sport is definitely a Land Rover in the highest traditions. It can definitely tackle the off-roads necessary across the country. During this beginning of fall, deer hunters are out and about, setting up their stands and clearing sites. The little Range Rover, with that Terrain Response system, makes the deer hunter’s job easy. A simple turn of the dial and the vehicle adapts to smooth roads, sand, or rocky terrain.

New for 2010 is the direct-injection, 5 liter, V-8 engine. This is the same engine put into the Jaguar XK and a few high-end Land Rovers last year. The V-8 engine spits out 510 horsepower with the supercharger. The Land Rover PR folks say it can go from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds. I did not try it, but I have no doubts the statement is true. This vehicle drives more like a sports car than an off-road rock climber. It held its own following little vehicles along twisting dirt roads as well as on the highway. Performance was beyond impressive. It was awesome.

The seats sit higher up than little sports car seats, and maybe that is a good thing. It actually gives you a feeling that you are going faster than you really are, so the driver tends to hold the Sport under better control than normal. The seats bolster the driver and passenger very well and with that powerful engine, bolstering is needed. For longer highway drives, the seats are quite comfortable.

Generally, the Range Rover Sport comes fairly loaded down with goodies and electronic items, although there are a number of options available. The navigation system worked, but that was about the extent of it. It was difficult to use and the screen was small. The radio controls were very difficult to work. While I was driving, my wife Judy tried, unsuccessfully, to locate a specific station. After 10 minutes, she gave up in her attempts. Paddle Shifters were located on the steering wheel, but they were not necessary with the new electronic automatic transmission. Possibly, a few drivers would try to take this 510 horsepower vehicle out to race somewhere. A rear entertainment system was an optional add-on that offered two displays in the rear headrests for the enjoyment of backseat passengers.

A special feature on the test model was Land Rover’s Adaptive Cruise Control. I like this option and if you do much highway driving, it is a major benefit. The system is easy to use and maintains a pre-set distance between you and a vehicle in front of you, even if it pulls sharply into your path. Day-dreamers who do not pay close attention to their driving find this option a major safety help.

Fuel economy was lacking. The Range Rover Sport is EPA rated at just 12 mpg in the city and only 17 mpg on the highway. During the week’s test drive, fueling stations in my area got to know me rather well. The supercharger works best on premium-grade gasoline, and this guzzler goes through a credit card charge rapidly. That’s the really bad downside of this vehicle. The base MSRP of the test model was $73,345 and with the options and delivery charges, the bottom sticker price was $80,795.

The Range Rover Sport Supercharged delivers on its promise. It offers premium touches, a terrific performance, and a long history of off-road capability. Sure, there are a few downsides including the initial cost and the low gas mileage, but this is one vehicle that would be easy to love. It is equally at home on the super highway or the urban asphalt jungle. It can go where no man’s gone before or it can take its place on a crowded mall parking lot. British Agent 007 would love the speed and agility and would feel luxuriously at home inside the vehicle. And if the need was ever present, it could even rock-climb over one of those high parking curbs or other parking barrier, and do it in British premium style. Check out the Range Rover Sport Supercharged at a Land Rover dealership yourself.

By Alan Gell - MyCarData