- SPORTS TOURER
New sports tourer SUV with inspiring and refined on-road performance, as well as outstanding breadth of capability
- NUMBER FIVE
A fifth nameplate for Land Rover, complementing the award-winning Range Rover
Supercharged 287 kW [390 bhp SAE], 4.2-litre V8 top-of-the-range engine, plus high-technology V6 diesel and V8 normally aspirated engine options [diesel not available in North America]
- DYNAMIC RESPONSE
Land Rover’s new Dynamic Response suspension system and performance-tuned chassis help deliver responsive handling and comfortable ride
- TERRAIN RESPONSE
Acclaimed Terrain Response™ system for class-leading off-road capability, standard on all models
Aerodynamic and muscular exterior design, with spacious, well-equipped interior and cockpit feel for the driver
The Range Rover Sport is the best-performing and best-handling vehicle that Land Rover has ever built. Designed to complement the renowned Range Rover – which continues as the company’s flagship – the Range Rover Sport is a completely new vehicle, a more compact, more agile and more performance-oriented SUV.
It combines invigorating dynamic ability with outstanding comfort and refinement. Land Rover calls it a ‘sports tourer’. This reflects its ability effortlessly to cover long journeys quickly and comfortably, and yet also to deliver sharp handling and exhilarating performance. Its on-road prowess is complemented by class-leading off-road capability.
The top-line version uses a 287 kW (390 bhp SAE) Jaguar-derived supercharged V8 engine and has a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph), electronically limited. It is the fastest and best-accelerating vehicle that Land Rover has ever made. A normally aspirated V8 and advanced turbodiesel V6 are also available (diesel not available in North America and some other markets).
“The Range Rover Sport is an additional, fifth nameplate for the Land Rover brand,” says managing director Matthew Taylor. “It competes in the growing performance SUV market, but is different from all rivals.
“It is a sports tourer that offers the excitement of a performance car but with the versatility and go-anywhere ability of a Land Rover. Unlike rivals, its high performance doesn’t stop when the road gets rough – or runs out. It is an outstanding four-wheel-drive off-roader, as you’d expect from Land Rover. And on road, compared with its rivals, we believe it is less frenetic, more refined and more comfortable. It all adds up to the broadest range of capability in its class.
“It also perfectly complements the existing Range Rover – the most complete luxury SUV. It will be priced between the Discovery 3/LR3 and the Range Rover in the Land Rover product range.”
Refined, High-Performance Engines
The top Range Rover Sport model uses a 4.2-litre supercharged 287 kW(390 bhp SAE) V8 engine. Derived from the renowned engine used in Jaguar performance models, it has been specially developed for Land Rover needs. Maximum torque is 550 Nm (410 lb ft), and power and torque are fed, full-time, to all four wheels through a ZF six-speed ‘intelligent shift’ automatic gearbox. The transmission features sport programming and Land Rover’s Command Shift™, which offers manual control of gear changes. Low range is electronically selectable ‘on the move’, for tough off-roading.
Other engines offered are the Jaguar-derived 220 kW (300 bhp SAE) 4.4-litre normally aspirated V8 and the advanced new 2.7-litre 140 kW (190 bhp) turbodiesel V6, which produces a healthy 440 Nm of effortless torque. They use the same six-speed ZF automatic gearbox and the same full-time four-wheel-drive system as the supercharged model. Other high-technology features of the powertrain include an electronically controlled centre differential, which improves the vehicle’s handling both on-and off-road.
Tuned For On-Road Performance, But Class-Leading Off-Road
The new Range Rover Sport is the best “driver’s vehicle” that Land Rover has ever made. The company’s new and unique Integrated Body-frame™ structure, first seen on the Discovery 3/LR3, has been tailored for the Range Rover Sport. To reinforce the vehicle’s sporty character, and improve agility, the wheelbase is 14 cm (six inches) shorter.
The fully independent, air-sprung suspension has also been tuned for exhilarating on-road performance. Minimum body-roll and maximum driver feedback were priorities. Double wishbone suspension front and rear – as typically featured on the world’s leading sports cars – is used.
A new Land Rover technology, Dynamic Response, further reduces roll and improves handling. This computer-controlled active anti-roll system senses cornering forces and then acts to reduce lean. It’s one of the key reasons why this powerful SUV has the agility and handling of a much smaller sporty vehicle. It is standard on the supercharged model, and optional on other versions.
In keeping with its “driver’s pedigree”, much work on the chassis tuning of the Range Rover Sport was undertaken at the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany, in addition to the extensive and rigorous on-road and off-road Land Rover development programme. On the supercharged version, four-piston race-bred Brembo front brakes help give superb braking ability.
In addition to its inspiring on-road performance, the Range Rover Sport is exceptionally competent across all terrains, from packed snow to boulders. Land Rover’s highly effective new Terrain Response™ system, which made its production debut on the new Discovery 3/LR3, is standard on all models. It allows the driver to choose one of five terrain settings via a pop-up rotary control on the centre console.
Terrain Response then automatically selects (or guides the driver to select) the most appropriate settings for the vehicle’s many advanced electronic controls and traction aids – including ride height, engine torque response, Hill Descent Control, electronic traction control and transmission settings.
High-Speed Luxury. Packed With Technology
The Range Rover Sport is one of the most aerodynamic of all SUVs. Although packed with recognisable Range Rover cues, it is stylistically different in many ways. The windscreen is more steeply raked, the roofline is lower and sloped, the glass is flush fitting, the characteristic Range Rover bonnet castellations have been smoothed away and the vehicle sits lower.
The Range Rover Sport has five doors, with a single-piece rear aluminium tailgate that includes an opening rear glass for easy access.
Despite its comparative lowness, it is still a roomy SUV, offering space and comfort for five people. Premium materials – including leather, wood and metallic finishes – are used extensively. The cockpit is designed around the driver, and is more enveloping than other Land Rovers. The high and sweeping centre console helps the driver reach across to the controls, rather than down to them. The seats are sporty and supportive.
“The interior is far more cocooning than the SUV norm,” says Matthew Taylor. “Yet there is still the characteristic Land Rover Command driving position, which gives a superb view of the road ahead and the scenery around you. The Range Rover Sport will appeal to those who currently drive luxury executive cars (sedans) as well as the more sporty SUVs, thanks to its overall refinement and unmatched breadth of capability.”
It is also the most technologically advanced Land Rover to date. Apart from Terrain Response, Dynamic Response and a host of other advanced powertrain and traction controls, the Range Rover Sport features Adaptive Cruise Control (its first Land Rover application), bi-xenon adaptive front lighting and the latest generation satellite navigation, both on- and off-road. Audio systems by harman/kardon and a twin-screen DVD rear seat entertainment system, using high-resolution screens enclosed in the front seat headrests, are available.
RANGE ROVER SPORT – IN BRIEF
Tapered, flowing style makes the Range Rover Sport one of the most aerodynamic SUVs in the world
Traditional Range Rover styling cues but in a much more sporting shape
Spoilers and side skirts help high-speed stability but are also designed with off-roading in mind
Two Superb Petrol Engines & A State-Of-The-Art Diesel
Flagship model uses 287 kW (390 bhp SAE) supercharged V8 engine, with top speed (electronically limited) of 225 km/h (140 mph)
Normally aspirated V8 and advanced diesel V6 engines also offered (diesel not available in North America and some other markets)
Advanced ZF six-speed automatic ‘intelligent shift’ transmission that also features a Sport mode and Command Shift manual gear changing
Two-speed transfer box. Low range, for serious off-road conditions, can be selected electronically on the move
Full-time four-wheel drive
‘E diff’ in centre differential and rear differential further improve handling and off-road ability
Strong & Spacious Body
Integrated Body-frame combines strength and rigidity
Rigid body aids handling and agility
Body strength copes with tough off-road conditions
Excellent crash protection thanks to strong structure and six airbags as standard
Outstanding On- & Off-Road Dynamics
Broadest breadth of capability in the performance SUV class
Exhilarating handling and agility, fused with impressive ride comfort and refinement
New Dynamic Response system ensures flatter cornering and excellent driver feedback
Full-time four-wheel-drive plus advanced electronic controls such as Electronic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Hill Descent Control
Terrain Response maximises traction whatever the terrain, and optimises drivability and comfort
Anti-lock brakes plus new Electronic Park Brake
Speed-proportional power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering for precise high-speed driving and good manoeuvrability at low speed
Four-piston Brembo brakes on supercharged model
‘Driver-biased’ sports cockpit that sites major controls close to the driver
Command view seating position offers excellent visibility
Architectural interior design featuring premium materials
Air conditioning on all models
State-of-the-art in-car entertainment, including availability of harman/kardon ‘Logic 7’ system for ultimate hi-fi performance
Satellite DVD navigation on- and off-road
“The Range Rover Sport looks like it’s going fast – even when it’s standing still.” That was one of design director Geoff Upex’s priorities when the vehicle was conceived.
“When people see the vehicle they should want to get in and drive it immediately,” says Upex. “It had to look dynamic and exciting, and be utterly tempting. We wanted a compact, muscular, hewn-from-the-solid design that promised great power.”
It also had to look like a member of the Land Rover family. But with a sporting attitude.
“We used many of the classic Range Rover design cues, like the floating roof – achieved by the blacked-out roof pillars – but treated them in a different way,” says Upex. “Range Rover Sport is a less formal vehicle and has more emotion. It had to look more dynamic, more active, and be more aggressive. The design is less geometric and has more flow: it is more rounded, more compact, tighter and more tapered. That’s the reason why this vehicle does away with the Range Rover’s bonnet castellations. We wanted a smoother, more aerodynamic look.”
The windscreen is steeply raked, and the roof is lower than on other Land Rovers. The glass area is shallower and the rear D-pillars are faster. Wheels are pushed out to the corners and are big – 20-inch on the supercharged model – to fill the wheel arches and convey the vehicle’s sporty character. Bigger tyres also offer more grip.
There are front and rear spoilers plus side skirts. They not only increase the sporty character of the styling, but also improve high-speed stability and the aerodynamics. The new Range Rover Sport is one of the world’s most aerodynamically efficient SUVs, with a drag coefficient of 0.37 (0.36 on some diesel models).
The aerodynamic aids have also been designed with off-roading in mind. The front spoiler is made from rubber, so can withstand knocks from rocks and ruts, and the side skirts not only improve stability and the drag coefficient, but also stop mud splattering the sills and prevent stone chips to the paintwork.
The rear of the roof is extended by a tail spoiler. This appears to lengthen the roof line and gives a sportier appearance, as well as forming a ‘flick line’ to extend the airflow rearward. This reduces wake turbulence and improves the aerodynamics. Flush-fitting glass and smooth surfacing around the lights further improve the vehicle’s ability to cleave the air.
The Range Rover Sport has a single tailgate with a separate lifting glass. Unlike the Range Rover’s split tailgate – which necessitates a flat rear end – the Range Rover Sport has a rounded rear. This gives the vehicle a more compact, tighter look and also helps smooth the airflow around the rear of the vehicle.
The nose of the vehicle bears a strong resemblance to the acclaimed Range Stormer concept car, which previewed the Range Rover Sport when unveiled at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As with Range Stormer, the Range Rover Sport offers a powerful supercharged V8, which demands the efficient passage of air around the engine. The perforated mesh grille helps maximise airflow into the engine bay, while one of the two side vents helps get air out of the bonnet area quickly. The other side vent is an intake for the engine induction system.
The headlight cluster continues the latest Land Rover family look but is slimmer than those used on the Range Rover and Discovery 3/LR3. It also features adaptive headlights, which swivel with the direction of travel to illuminate the road ahead. Bi-xenon lights are available for even better illumination and lower maintenance. Rear lights are also distinctively styled. Headlamp mouldings, front grille, vents, door handles and tailgate appliqué all have ‘Tungsten’ metal finish.
The supercharged version is distinguished by the use of brightwork for the perforated grille and side air intakes, black and silver Land Rover badges, 20-inch wheels and twin stainless steel exhausts.
Three light, compact engines are offered in the Range Rover Sport (depending on market), the most powerful being a supercharged 287 kW (390 bhp SAE) petrol V8.
Supercharged V8 engine
“Supercharged engines have a strong tradition in British sporting vehicles,” says Range Rover Sport chief programme engineer Stuart Frith. “They provide smooth, big engine performance right across the rev range while being compact and efficient.”
The mighty supercharged, 4.2-litre V8 is the flagship engine. Derived from the normally aspirated V8 engine also available in the Range Rover Sport, the supercharged version has 30 percent more power and 29 percent more torque. Yet it has the same compact package and similar fuel economy.
Acceleration time from 0-100 km/h is 7.6 seconds; from 0-60 mph, 7.2 seconds (figures subject to final confirmation).
The Range Rover Sport’s V8 supercharged engine is not only more compact than a V10 or a V12, it has less friction and less complexity.
As the supercharger is permanently employed to boost intake charge, the extra performance is present across the entire rev range – unlike an exhaust gas-driven turbocharger.
The Eaton supercharger is positioned on top of the engine, in place of the normally aspirated induction system. Driven by a dedicated belt, the supercharger has two meshing impellers that ram air through twin intercoolers – to optimise air density – into the combustion chambers. The intercoolers have their own cooling radiators and there is also an additional air blast oil cooler.
The camshaft profile is revised to allow the valves more movement to provide for the larger gas flow, while the fuel injectors have been calibrated to suit the high flow demand of the supercharged engine.
The engine capacity is reduced (from the 4.4-litre normally aspirated) by the use of cast iron cylinder liners that take down the bore from 88.0 mm (3.46 inches) to 86.0 mm (3.38 inches). This strengthens the block by increasing the web thickness between the cylinders. Stroke remains the same at 90.3 mm (3.56 inches). The pistons have a revised bowl profile to suit the characteristics of the supercharged engine.
The result is a capacity of 4.2 litres, maximum power of 287 kW (390 bhp SAE) at 5750 rpm and a massive 550 Nm (410 lb ft) of torque. This engine helps make the Range Rover Sport the fastest vehicle Land Rover has ever built.
Normally aspirated V8 engine
A normally aspirated, 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine is also available in the Range Rover Sport. Sharing many of the features of the supercharged engine, this Jaguar-derived unit is renowned for its light weight, compact dimensions and efficiency.
The quad-cam (two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank) engine delivers 220 kW (300 bhp SAE) at 5500 rpm and 425 Nm (315 lb ft) of torque at 4000 rpm. The camshafts are chain driven, while the chains and sprockets are of a fine pitch ‘silent design’ using inverted teeth, offering improved refinement over conventional chain drive. The camshafts operate four valves per cylinder, for optimal breathing and efficiency.
One of the world’s lightest V8 engines, it has a cylinder block and heads made from aluminium, while alloys are used in many other components to save weight. The engine uses Variable Camshaft Phasing (VCP), which automatically and continuously controls valve timing depending on driving behaviour and outside temperature.
It is controlled by an electronic throttle, which allows throttle ‘mapping’ to change depending on driving conditions and provides an interface to the vehicle’s Terrain Response system. There is also a ‘limp home’ facility, in the event of a system failure – crucial for a vehicle that may be used in remote areas.
Like the supercharged unit, the normally aspirated V8 is made in a state-of-the-art engine plant in Bridgend, Wales.
Compared with the Jaguar equivalents, the Land Rover engines have been further developed, particularly to increase their capability off-road. Like all Land Rovers, the Range Rover Sport must be able to tackle mountains and wade rivers, as well as cruise boulevards and motorways.
The aluminium sump has been designed to ensure lubricant delivery at the extreme angles likely in off-roading and oil capacity has been increased by 18 percent. The oil pump has been redesigned and oil sealing has been improved for wading. Engine ancillaries have been positioned as high as possible to avoid damage from rocks and ruts and other off-roading hazards.
Turbodiesel V6 engine
The refined but economical 2.7-litre turbodiesel V6 engine available in the Range Rover Sport is one of the newest and most advanced diesels in the world (not available in North America and some other markets). This latest generation, common-rail engine operates at fuel pressures of 1650 bar – typically 25 percent higher than previous systems. This gives greater control over combustion and better flow at the injectors with benefits to fuel economy, emissions and refinement.
In the Range Rover Sport, the turbodiesel engine develops 140 kW (190 bhp) at 4000 rpm and produces 440 Nm (325 lb ft) of torque. Maximum torque is developed at only 1900 rpm for excellent drivability and off-road capability.
The engine runs with a compression ratio of 17.3:1, relatively low for a diesel. This reduces heat build-up in the piston bowl, further improving fuel-burning efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The low compression ratio also reduces engine noise. The engine is fitted with a single 51 mm (2.0 inches) diameter KKK turbocharger with an electronically controlled Variable Nozzle Turbine (VNT).
The equivalent Jaguar engine uses twin turbochargers, but the choice of a single turbo provides the Land Rover unit with increased torque and improves transient response. The turbocharger is fully sealed to suit Land Rover wading requirements. The VNT optimises charged air delivery at all engine speeds by altering the angle of the turbine vanes. This effectively widens the turbine inlet at low speed to improve torque and narrows it at higher engine speeds for better power response.
The engine block is made from Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI), the first use of this material in volume engine production. It combines strength, stiffness, light weight and durability, allowing this engine to be physically smaller than most rival V6s. The inherent stiffness of CGI also improves durability and noise suppression. The strength allows the cylinders to be bored directly into the block casting, which removes the need for cylinder liners, saving weight.
The crankshaft is carried in four main bearings, each cross-bolted with six bolts to provide a solid mounting and control vibrations. In its Land Rover application, the crank is further supported by an aluminium ladder frame attached to the bottom of the crankcase. A steel sump is attached to the ladder frame. The oil pick-up point is designed so that the vehicle can operate safely at extreme off-road angles, and baffle plates prevent oil surge and foaming.
The cylinder heads are pressure die-cast in high-strength aluminium alloy. Each head carries twin camshafts operating four valves per cylinder. This 24-valve layout optimises engine breathing to improve economy and reduce emissions through better combustion. The camshafts are driven by a toothed belt, coated in PTFE to reduce friction. For reliability and durability, the belt is dedicated to drive only the camshafts.
The inlet manifold is made from lightweight composites and is moulded integrally with the cam covers. It is isolated from the cylinder heads by an elastomeric material that reduces vibration, improving refinement.
The engine is equipped with a glow plug in each cylinder to assist in cold starts, while the exhaust oxidation catalysts are positioned as close to the engine as possible to ensure a rapid warm-up.
‘Intelligent Shift’ automatic transmission
All Range Rover Sport models have an advanced ZF six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, which distributes power full-time to all four wheels. One of the most advanced transmissions in the world, this ensures ultra-smooth gear changes and superb throttle response.
Manual Command Shift gear changing is offered, and, on the supercharged derivative, the engine is automatically ‘blipped’ during downchanging to match the engine speed to the lower gear. This delivers a faster and smoother shift.
For the Range Rover Sport, the Command Shift feature has been developed to give a more sporty ‘feel’ to the change and the response time of the compact gear lever is also more immediate than on other Land Rovers.
There is also a Sport transmission mode, which – in an industry first – allows the throttle to ‘blip’ during auto downshifts under heavy braking. This helps engine braking and ensures that the vehicle is in the optimum gear when leaving the bend.
In the Sport mode, the engine holds lower gears for longer. When cornering loads are detected, upshifts are also delayed – to allow the driver to have more ‘feel’ during cornering. Torque disturbances caused by gear changes are avoided.
The fully adaptive ‘intelligent shift’ transmission alters its settings depending on the driving style and conditions. Aggressive driving means upshifting will be delayed, to allow for higher revs and more power. A more gentle driving style means upshifts will be delivered sooner, allowing for a more relaxed driving experience. The ‘intelligent shift’ facility works in both normal and Sport modes.
The gearbox casing is unique to Land Rover, being especially stiff. The strong plastic-moulded sump has also been designed specifically for Land Rover, and offers superior off-road protection. The gearbox electronic control unit, made by Bosch, is housed within the sump for superior shielding. It communicates, by a high-speed link, with the vehicle’s other systems, including Terrain Response.
Twin-speed transfer box and electronic differentials
The Range Rover Sport has a twin-speed transfer box with both high (for normal conditions) and low (for off-road) ranges. The shift is electric and can be made on the move. It is unusual for a sporting SUV to offer this low-range facility, which enormously improves traction over difficult or steep terrain.
The centre differential is fully active. This ‘e-diff’ biases drive between the front and rear axles (in normal conditions it is distributed 50:50) and automatically varies torque depending on conditions. It can also be locked, to help traction in extreme off-roading. This is also performed automatically. An ECU controls an electric motor that locks the centre diff using a multi-plate clutch.
An electronically controlled locking rear ‘e-diff’ is available. It is also controlled by the centre differential ECU. The differentials are mounted directly onto the chassis, to maximise ground clearance, giving improved off-road ability.
The Range Rover Sport is the best-handling, most agile and most exhilarating vehicle that Land Rover has ever produced. Fully independent double wishbone suspension is used front and rear. An innovative new anti-roll control – Dynamic Response – ensures that the vehicle’s attitude stays flat even at speed on challenging corners, while also preserving ride comfort and suppleness.
“The goal – as with all Land Rovers – was the broadest breadth of capability in the class,” says chief programme engineer Stuart Frith. “But we had to shift the centre of capability towards sporty driving. That is the key ability of this vehicle. Yet we did not want to sacrifice ride comfort and refinement. And we also wanted to retain excellent off-road ability.”
The Range Rover Sport has been tuned primarily for on-road performance. Priorities were agility, roadholding, handling, excellent braking performance and tremendous driver appeal. Development testing included high-speed laps of Germany’s notorious Nürburgring race circuit.
Air spring suspension
The suspension uses electronically controlled air springs, for an optimal balance between responsive handling and comfort. The springs become firmer at high speed and during cornering, and are automatically more compliant at lower speeds or on rough roads. They provide a ‘best of both worlds’ ability that conventional steel springs, as typically offered in rival sporty 4x4s, cannot achieve. The air springs are also excellent for off-roading, partly because they allow for height adjustment of the body.
Sports car-like monotube dampers improve wheel control at high speed, and give the vehicle a more stable planted-to-the-road feel.
Land Rover’s unique Dynamic Response system, a computer-controlled active anti-roll control, ensures flat cornering and excellent driver feedback. It is standard on the supercharged vehicle, and optional on the normally aspirated V8 and diesel models.
An engine-driven pump powers hydraulic motors that act on the anti-roll bars to alter their stiffness in response to vehicle cornering forces. Computers measure steering angle and horizontal acceleration and determine the moment at which the vehicle will lean. Dynamic Response then operates the hydraulic motors the instant the vehicle starts to roll. Its actions are imperceptible to the driver, but boost the sporting character of the vehicle.
The Dynamic Response system on the Range Rover Sport allows for a much more supple ride on road, and helps give the vehicle much more ‘feel’ and handling suppleness, especially over undulating or slightly uneven roads. It allows for both excellent roadholding and the suspension suppleness which delivers great feedback. But on rough surfaces and off-road, assistance is automatically reduced and allows maximum wheel cross-articulation in extreme conditions.
Steering is by ZF Servotronic rack-and-pinion with speed-sensitive power assistance. The rack is rigidly mounted directly onto the chassis frame for improved steering response.
“The Range Rover Sport has very linear steering, to help the driver feel in absolute control of the vehicle,” says Land Rover’s chief engineer, vehicle integrity, Mike Cross. “The speed-sensitive power assistance allows for impressive agility at low speed and for superb stability at high speed.”
The steering rack is mounted ahead of the front axle, further to improve the vehicle’s steering response. It is also mounted low to preserve the crash performance of the front end and is protected by a substantial cross member.
Adaptive Cruise Control
The Range Rover Sport’s relaxed high-speed demeanour is further improved by the availability of Adaptive Cruise Control. Radar monitoring allows the Range Rover Sport to maintain a set speed and distance from the vehicle in front. This system can make motorway driving more relaxing and safer.
In keeping with its role as a sports tourer, the Range Rover Sport is designed to have supple suspension and superb mechanical refinement.
“We wanted the vehicle to have the best overall behaviour on-road, with an outstanding blend of comfort, refinement, agility and precision,” says Mike Cross. “So it is equally at home on smooth winding roads, over long motorway distances and on smaller roads that have bumps and undulations.
“Many of its rivals are not relaxing to drive on poor road surfaces. The Range Rover Sport is developed to be less frenetic and more relaxing. We believe it has a superior ride, is quieter, has a more comfortable cabin, and is a true sports tourer that can cover great distances effortlessly and swiftly.”
As well as being outstanding on-road, the Range Rover Sport is also supremely capable off-road, as expected from a Land Rover.
“We build vehicles that can perform on almost any terrain,” says managing director Matthew Taylor. “We fundamentally believe that your enjoyment should not stop just because the road does. Most rival sports SUVs can only cope with soft off-roading. The Range Rover Sport is an impressive road vehicle that can also cope superbly in the rough.”
The vehicle’s Integrated Body-frame structure, as also used on the new Discovery 3/LR3, is enormously strong and offers superb protection for vulnerable electrical and hydraulic systems, as well as major mechanical components.
The transmission includes a two-speed transfer box, with low range electronically selectable on the move. The air sprung suspension is height adjustable, allowing the whole body to be lifted clear of ruts, rocks and rivers, and any other impediments to smooth off-road progress. The result is far more ground clearance, off-road, than any sports SUV rival.
The Dynamic Response active anti-roll system is automatically deactivated once the vehicle goes off-road, improving wheel articulation. This allows for full and free movement of the suspension, as if no anti-roll bars were fitted. When a side-slope is detected off-road, though, the hydraulic motors used in Dynamic Response lock the anti-roll bars, minimising vehicle lean to allow for a secure traverse.
Wheels & tyres
As with all Land Rover models, the standard tyres have multi-purpose compounds, which mean they’re suitable for both on- and off-road.
All road wheels are cast in aluminium alloy and are designed to withstand damage from kerbing and from off-road obstacles. Aluminium alloy wheels also help to disperse the heat generated during braking, reducing brake fade.
The wheels have been specified to accommodate the large brake discs (wheel specification may vary by market). The entry-level wheel is 17 inches in diameter and seven inches wide, while the standard wheel is 18 inches in diameter and eight inches wide. A premium wheel is available on certain models, and is of 19-inch diameter and eight-inch width. Vehicles fitted with the V8 supercharged engine have 20-inch wheels. All wheels have a ‘J’ type profile to maximise tyre retention in the event of deflation.
The spare wheel is carried on a frame located under the vehicle, between the side members, and is lowered using a winch arrangement. The mounting and the wheel itself contribute to the rear end crash performance of the vehicle.
The high-speed supercharged model gets supercar-standard four-piston Brembo front brakes for optimal braking performance. All models get large ventilated discs front and rear.
There are two different brake sizes offered. The supercharged and normally aspirated V8 models get 337 mm x 30 mm front discs and 350 mm x 20 mm rear discs. The diesel model gets 317 mm x 30 mm front discs and 325 mm x 20 mm rear discs. Normally aspirated and diesel models get twin-piston sliding callipers on the front brakes and single-pot callipers on the rear.
The latest generation four-channel Bosch ABS anti-lock brakes are standard on the Range Rover Sport. This system also provides sensing and power for other dynamic control systems fitted to the vehicle, including Hill Descent Control (HDC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The system incorporates Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) to provide optimum braking regardless of the load state of the vehicle. Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) provides additional pressure to the braking system if a sudden application of full braking is sensed.
The Range Rover Sport is fitted with an Electronic Park Brake. Application of the park brake is by a console-mounted switch. It is disengaged automatically when driving off. This device frees up the valuable space in the centre console area that would otherwise be taken by a conventional hand brake mechanism. The park brake acts on a 210 mm drum incorporated into the rear brake discs.
Land Rover’s new Terrain Response system is an advanced but easy-to-use technology that makes driving easy and improves traction. It maximises grip and safety in all conditions, but especially off-road. Simply select one of five Terrain Response settings to suit the driving conditions and a range of the vehicle’s functions are tuned to deliver optimal performance. The five programs are for:
General driving (for normal on- and off-road conditions)
Grass/gravel/snow (for various slippery conditions, including on-road)
Mud & ruts
Terrain Response uses a high-speed network of electrical architecture to control the relevant vehicle features, systems and technologies including:
Engine management system: The throttle map is altered, improving drivability by matching torque delivery to the chosen terrain
Electronic control system: Of the automatic gearbox to optimise gear change points
Air suspension ride height: When low range has been selected, the air suspension automatically raises to off-road height whenever Terrain Response is switched from ‘general driving’ to any of the other settings
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC): Normally stops torque to a wheel after loss of traction, but in some off-road situations torque feed is still desirable, even when traction is being lost. Terrain Response automatically adjusts the DSC, so appropriate torque is maintained
Electronic Traction Control & Anti-lock Brakes: These slip and braking control systems are adjusted and tuned by Terrain Response to offer optimum grip, braking power and safety on the chosen terrain
Hill Descent Control (HDC): This Queen’s Award-winning Land Rover technology automatically restricts speed downhill, using the anti-lock brakes, and enables drivers to remain in control even on the most slippery of downhill stretches. HDC is automatically engaged on appropriate Terrain Response programs, and downhill speed rates vary depending on which surface is selected (in ‘rock crawl’ the lowest speed is selected to prevent vehicle damage)
Electronically controlled centre & rear differentials: With different slip or locking rates for the different terrains
Terrain Response works continuously. It made its production debut in 2004, on the new Discovery 3/LR3.
Says chief programme engineer Stuart Frith: “Terrain Response is like having an expert beside you, telling you what gear and what settings you should be in. It makes off-road driving easier, in particular, and allows you to get the best out of the vehicle continuously, irrespective of the conditions.”
Land Rover’s innovative new Integrated Body-frame platform architecture matches the strength of a ladder-frame with the rigidity of a monocoque, delivering the best of both approaches. First used on the new Discovery 3/LR3, the structure has now been developed for use in the Range Rover Sport, including a shorter wheelbase, by 14 cm (six inches), to improve agility.
The ingenuity of the Integrated Body-frame structure lies in its advanced computer-aided design, its trend-setting hydroforming production process and the use of advanced high-strength steels.
Hydroforming uses fluid pressures rather than conventional tooling to form shapes. It allows for a much greater range of shapes and sizes and tighter tolerances, increasing precision and reducing weight.
“The Integrated Body-frame is a superb starting point for the suspension systems of the Range Rover Sport,” says chief programme engineer Stuart Frith. “It is a strong, immensely rigid structure, tapered at the front and rear for superior styling and aerodynamics. It is at its widest in the centre, for maximum strength in the central passenger area.”
The structure has most of its weight sited low, to give a low centre of gravity for good handling. In addition to its extra strength, compared with a monocoque, another advantage of the Integrated Body-frame is that vulnerable systems, cables and pipes can be packaged within the structure, offering great protection during off-roading.
To provide the smooth but sporty feel that characterises the vehicle, special ‘mini dampers’ have been employed between the frame and body. The dampers are fitted adjacent to the body mounting rubbers and together form a ‘mini suspension system’. They further improve ride comfort and reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), while also improving driver feedback.
Additional vibration dampers are also fitted to the chassis, to refine the vehicle’s comfort further.
Steel and aluminium panels
As with a conventional monocoque body (as used on most saloons and sports cars) two monosides are welded to the floor, roof and bulkheads to form a strong and rigid single structure. The doors and front wings are made from steel, and are separate bolt-on assemblies. On the Range Rover Sport, enormously strong boron steel is used for the A- and B-pillars for added body strength, and for protection in roll-overs.
The bonnet and tailgate continue Land Rover’s long history of using aluminium for large panels. This saves overall vehicle weight and helps ease opening and shutting. Lightweight magnesium alloy is used in the front structure and forms part of the front crash crumple zone.
The Range Rover Sport has a single-piece lifting tailgate, unlike the two-piece tailgates of the Range Rover and new Discovery 3/LR3. This one-piece design allows for a more rounded and aerodynamic vehicle shape. However, the glass area within the tailgate lifts separately, to allow easy boot access, especially in tight-fitting spots.
All the steel panels vulnerable to corrosion are zinc-coated and all the alloy structures – of which Land Rover has more than 50 years’ experience – are treated to prevent electrolytic interaction with adjoining steel components.
As well as offering good active safety – owing to its host of electronic stability controls, powerful brakes and class-leading traction – the Range Rover Sport also has exceptional passive safety.
The Integrated Body-frame combines strength and rigidity. It improves vehicle safety, by providing occupants with an enormously strong structure to protect against collision damage. The hydroformed side members give exceptional side impact protection, and work in conjunction with side-impact bars and airbags.
The frame structure is at its widest in the passenger area, to shield occupants and vital parts of the vehicle, such as the fuel tank. Buckle points control its collapse in an accident, as it crumples, taking energy away from the occupants.
In addition, the front of the Integrated Body-frame has its collision ‘load path’ as low as possible. This is designed to reduce damage to smaller vehicles in the event of an accident, by impacting where the other vehicle’s safety systems typically work most efficiently. The Range Rover Sport has also been designed with a lower bumper line, to match conventional cars.
All Range Rover Sport models have six airbags. Front impact protection is provided by the driver’s airbag, deployed from the steering wheel hub, and by a passenger airbag deployed from the facia.
The side-impact protection system has a combination of seat-mounted airbags for the front seat occupants and side curtain airbags running the length of the passenger compartment. The curtain airbags deploy downwards to provide head protection for passengers during severe side impacts.
An automatic protection sequence takes place in the event of a crash. This includes instant shut-down of the engine and fuel system and operation of the hazard warning system to warn other road users. All the interior lights are activated and all doors are automatically unlocked.
The seats have high bolsters to improve lateral support and provide maximum grip for the driver and passengers. Occupants sit in them, not on them. The Range Rover Sport seats five in comfort, though the rear seat has pronounced profiling for the outer seat occupants, to provide maximum comfort and support on long journeys, in the tradition of great ‘grand tourers’.
Both front seats have power adjustment as standard with the driver’s seat having an eight-way power system – the switches are located in the seat valances. A memory function is available. Both front and rear seating positions are equipped with two-level cushion heating. Both front seats have manually adjustable head restraints, which house the twin LCD screens for the DVD system (where fitted).
With the roof-line profile tapering towards the rear, the rear headlining is deeply profiled around the sunroof cassette to give maximum headroom to the rear seat passengers.
The interior design is complemented by a choice of high quality trim fabrics in four interior colour ways. The seats are offered with a premium cloth as standard and a high-grade leather option. Vehicles fitted with the V8 supercharged engine have a unique and distinctive ‘sparkle’ leather trim as standard. A premium leather trim which features a softer leather in a ruched style is also available.
The rear seat splits asymmetrically and ‘flips and folds’ to provide maximum space in the rear load area. The boot is one of the biggest in the class, and provides plenty of space for sporting equipment – including golf clubs – and also sufficient room for bicycles and ski gear.
The instrumentation is clear and well displayed. Circular analogue gauges have metallic bezels and are grouped neatly in the main binnacle, directly in front of the driver. The large centre console is high and comparatively close to the driver. The short, sporty gear lever is angled to the driver. The other side of the console is given over to storage and cup holders that are capable of taking the largest ‘big gulp’ beverage containers. The vehicle’s use of an electronic parking brake means that the console area is unencumbered by a manual handbrake lever and its linkage.
The facia design accentuates vertical and horizontal lines. This very geometric composition is typical of Land Rover’s interior design philosophy, as seen on other recent vehicles. On the Range Rover Sport, however, the instrumentation and major switches are closer, and the driver is more enveloped by the controls.
The driver sits high, and enjoys the Command driving position characteristic of Land Rovers. Visibility is excellent – fore, aft and sideways. It is easy to see over parked cars, traffic and hedges, as well as over spray on wet roads. All four corners of the vehicle are visible for easier parking and manoeuvring. The big glass area provides a superb panorama.
“A vehicle that can take you anywhere should offer a great view when you arrive,” says Matthew Taylor.
Craftsmanship and quality are key features of the new Range Rover Sport’s cockpit. Apart from the premium cloth and leathers used for the seating upholstery and the luxurious cut-pile carpeting, wood and metallic finishes are also widely used. The switchgear, which is unique to Land Rover, has a chunkiness and precise movement that is typical of a quality vehicle. Controls that are used regularly, such as facia vents and major switchgear, have a rubberised finish to improve tactility. All grab handles are damped.
The facia is supported on a die-cast magnesium alloy cross beam that is both light and strong. It provides excellent support, reducing the likelihood of any movement, squeaking or rattling. The facia moulding is in Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU) which has a soft, premium feel, resists fade caused by sunlight, and has minimal plasticizers, reducing the ‘mist’ deposited on the inside of the screen.
Roof trim and door pillar trim are soft fabric. Two roof-mounted consoles provide interior lighting. Low-level ‘waterfall’ lighting is incorporated into the front dome lamp, and is activated when the headlamps are turned on.
Automatic air conditioning is standard, and includes a particulate filter to remove pollutants in both fresh air and recirculating modes. The temperature is selected using facia-mounted controls. There are separate controls for the driver and front seat passenger, and both sides operate independently. For the rear seat passengers, there are two vents at the back of the centre console.
The Range Rover Sport has a comprehensive in-car entertainment and information system, including the availability of a twin-screen DVD system. Other features include a harman/kardon ‘Logic 7’ digital surround-sound in-car hi-fi, a comprehensive navigation system including on- and off-road modes and an integrated telephone. The different elements of the ‘infotainment’ system are connected by a fibre-optic MOST network for rapid data transfer.
The top-of-the-range sound system has been developed by harman/kardon using advanced ‘Logic 7’ technology. This system uses 14 speakers and is powered by a 12-channel digitally controlled amplifier. Each channel produces 50 watts to create a ‘surround-sound’ stage within the vehicle.
The head unit is integrated into the facia and can store up to six CDs in its integral stack, as well as receiving a variety of broadcast wavelengths. It can also play MP3 files recorded on CDs, giving a capacity equivalent to 66 albums.
A centre fill speaker is positioned in the middle of the facia ‘topper panel’. Each front door is fitted with a bass unit, mid-range speaker and a tweeter. The rear doors each have a metal matrix bass unit and a tweeter. An 11-inch sub woofer is integrated into the tailgate and two surround-sound speakers are fitted into the rear headlining.
The mid-range hi-fi system features nine speakers and a six-stack CD player. A single CD system is also available which uses an internal amplifier powering eight speakers.
A rear twin-screen DVD system is available, with two 165 mm (6.5 inch) high-resolution LCD screens fitted in the rear of the front seat head restraints and a six DVD changer mounted in the boot area. The video output can be streamed into the front facia-mounted 180 mm (7-inch) LCD screen when the vehicle is stationary. The soundtrack can be played through the ‘Logic 7’ system to give a full surround-sound cinema experience. Games stations and MP3 units can also be connected to the system.
A state-of-the-art satellite DVD navigation system is available, which includes the latest generation of off-road navigation. Jam-busting Traffic Message Channel (TMC) systems, where available, broadcast on a specific radio channel to warn of hold-ups. The satellite navigation system can suggest an alternative route.
The navigation system is controlled via the high-resolution, easy-to-read-in-any-light front screen, which is touch-activated. Two buttons switch the screen between the main ‘Home’ menu and the navigation system. The screen also displays information from the Terrain Response system. Voice recognition is available for navigation and audio controls.
The Range Rover Sport offers an integrated mobile phone that employs a system developed by Nokia. This installation incorporates the Bluetooth system for remote operation although non-Bluetooth phones can be fitted into the cradle for recharging. The phone cradle is mounted in the cubby box lid and will accept most popular models of mobile phones, including ‘flip phones’. Bluetooth-enabled phones will function even if not inserted in the cradle.
The phone is integrated into the vehicle’s audio system and has a microphone mounted in the roof console. Incoming speech is relayed through the audio system, which mutes the normal programme when a call is received or placed.
Though expected to spend much of its life on-road, the Range Rover Sport still had to undergo Land Rover’s arduous on-road and off-road test programme – probably the most varied and toughest in the automotive industry, covering over four million test and development miles in all.
Challenges varied from the Nürburgring race circuit and the Nardo high-speed test track in southern Italy, to the bone-jarring tracks of the Nullarbor Plains in Australia’s inhospitable outback. The Range Rover Sport has also powered along German autobahns, rushed up sand dunes and ploughed through the thick mud of Eastnor Castle, on the England/Wales border.
Extreme hot weather testing was done in Dubai and Death Valley, as well as Australia and South Africa – in heavy town traffic as well as in the wilds. And to experience temperatures a full 80 degrees cooler, the Range Rover Sport ventured to Canada and Sweden. The vehicle’s performance on ice and snow was also fine-tuned here.
Despite its on-road emphasis, the Range Rover Sport had to meet all Land Rover’s usual off-road testing criteria – the toughest in the automotive industry. It has to be able to wade in water 700 mm deep on excursions. Climb and descend 45 deg gradients. Remain stable when driving across a 35 deg slope. The handbrake must hold the vehicle on a 45 deg slope (harder than the industry average). And the vehicle must operate in temperatures as extreme as minus-40 deg C to plus-50 deg C.