For a company famous for producing utility 4x4s with a hint of ‘old money’ luxury, Land Rover’s move into the lifestyle end of the market - with the Evoque - has been nothing short of a life-altering experience for the British brand.
Granted, the Evoque wasn’t the company’s first foray into the ‘lifestyle’ market, that honour fell to the first generation Range Rover Sport. That said, it shared more than few design cues with the equally chunky-looking Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery.
That’s all gone the way of the dinosaur with the arrival of the latest generation Range Rover Sport.
Lighter, more economical and offering a more engaging on-road driving experience than the car it replaces, alongside Land Rover’s long established off-road credentials, this new generation Sport also boasts more cabin space plus the option of a family-friendly third row of seats.
One other option worthy of note is the car’s high-low transfer gearbox. Reflecting its on-road and lifestyle bias, it’s not now a feature you can expect to see as standard on the Sport.
And, just like with the latest Range Rover, the Sport adopts its maker’s next-gen Terrain Response system, which includes an auto mode clever enough to sense changes in terrain and change the engine, gearbox and suspension settings accordingly. Manual control remains and, despite the Sport’s streamlined looks and glossy celebrity endorsements, you’re only a few button presses away from being able to confidently scale mountains, wade through rivers or charge through power-sapping sand.
The final piece in the Range Rover Sport’s performance jigsaw is the car’s engine line-up.
For maximum wow factor there’s a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol motor that’s predictably destined to be most popular in places where petrol is cheap and owners are super-rich. For the rest of us, diesel will be the fuel of choice, with a high power 3.0-litre SDV6 variant boasting 292 horsepower and a lower power version for entry-level models producing a still useful 258 horsepower.
With all the usual safety and comfort equipment you’d expect to see at this price point, plus the Sport’s impressive driving dynamics and the cabin ambience, it’s clear that this second generation car has raised the bar in an already competitive market.