Why Range Rover has gone sporty

Gosh, it’s complicated. Life used to be so simple for Land Rover enthusiasts.

Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport

Your 4x4 wheels of choice came in three flavours of basic, general and luxury, so what could be easier?

The basic was the proper Land Rover, lately called the Defender.

Above that you had Freelander – now ditched - and Discovery for a tad more luxury and size.

Range Rover Sport

And if you were feeling flush there was the Range Rover.

Now most of those models have multiplied. They have all moved incredibly far upmarket and are among the most sophisticated and revered cars on the planet.

Every footballer, it seems, owns one. And every lottery winner aspires to buy one even ahead of a cruise and a house in the country. They are the epitome of success. Almost a cliché.

Yet, despite this they remain respected. The price is enough to raise an eyebrow, yet fans of the brand insist these models are worth the money. Nothing does what a Land Rover can do.

And while you may tackle the car park at Safeway more often than you navigate the Serengeti, it’s nice to know you could if you had to.

Tested here is another sub-division of the Range Rover, the Sport. It is lower, leaner and fresher than the general Range Rover and as such is a less stuffy machine.

The model is aimed at people who might want more fashion and sportiness than a traditional Range Rover.

It is highly equipped, yet its raison d’etre is power and performance: Top speed 140mph and 0 to 60mph in 6.6 seconds, thanks to a mighty 3.0 litre engine supported by an electric motor which ensures it has reasonable economy (31.2mpg on a run) and emissions (238g/km).

The test model starts at £85,995 but with the extras it touches £90,000, which is an awful lot of money. But in its defence you get several cars in one: it is a limousine which drives serenely; a sporting grand tourer which is exhilarating and exciting; and is an SUV packed with off-road ability.

If ever a car was a crossover, it’s this.

The features list is extensive. On top of the standard premium kit, it has its own Wi-Fi hotspot, a sophisticated driver display, voice control and a tailgate which opens at a gesture.

It has a premium satellite navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus safety features such as Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter, plus parking assistance.

This is an HST model which means it is even better equipped than the HSE. It adds a twin-speed transfer box with high and low range, which means you really could take it properly off-road. You would be mad to do so, but if you want to tow a horse box or caravan, or if you live in the wilds, then rest assured this car will cope.

It has a sophisticated off-road system which will enable even novice 4x4 enthusiasts to tackle rough ground with BMW X5.

The latest Sport is lighter and better on and off-road than earlier versions.

The company sells the Range Rover Sport in a single five-door bodystyle, with this generation introducing the option of a third-row of seats in the rear. That makes this the first seven-seat Range Rover. The arrival of a three-row version was partly in response to customer demand.

There are a lot of cars which claim to be the best in the world but few argue it quite as convincingly as the Range Rover Sport.

Range Rover Sport D350 HST

Price: £85,995. Extras include Firenze Red Metallic Paint – £895; Ebony / Cirrus Interior. A 360 degrees Surround Camera - £755; heated and cooled front seats with heated rear seats - £545; towing Pack - consists of: Advanced Tow Assist, electrically deployable tow bar, and activity key -£1,355. Price as Tested - £89,545

Engine: A 3.0 litre diesel engine and electric motor

Power: 350bhp

Performance: Top speed 140mph and 6.6 seconds

Economy: 31.2mpg combined

Emissions: 238g/km

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles