It may not happen very often, but the introduction of a new Range Rover model is always something I look forward to. The last-generation Range Rover lasted nearly a decade, and it has aged gracefully. Its younger, smaller brother, the Range Rover Sport, has actually gotten better looking with time. It may have been around for quite a while now, but I turn my head to do a double take every single time I see a clean, black Sport Autobiography. The day Land Rover unveiled the all-new 2014 Range Rover Sport HSE, it instantly became the best-looking SUV on the market in my eyes.
Because of my love for the old one, Land Rover was kind enough to offer me the first Range Rover Sport to grace the Canadian press fleet. With under 400km on my tester when I picked it up, it wasn’t even broken in. The optional 5.0L supercharged V8 engine is a monster, but my Sport was equipped with the 3.0L V6, also supercharged. With 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, the “slow” model gets around just fine. In fact, on more than one occasion I found myself noticing how good the V6 sounds. The supercharged-six helps the Sport scoot to 100 km/h in 7 seconds flat; not bad at all for this colossal ute.
My week with the Range Rover Sport consisted of a serious amount of highway commuting and very little city. This is where the most surprising part of the whole test came to life; I somehow managed to average 9.1L/100km over the entire time I had the thing. Yes, I am referring to a Range Rover. This behemoth somehow managed to drink less premium fuel than the Evoque Coupé I drove last winter. The 8-speed automatic works wonders on the Sport, because it cruises along at the 1500rpm mark at highway speeds. Phenomenal.
Phenomenal is also a word I would use to describe the way the Sport looks. Even in my tester’s “Scotia Grey”, which is Land Rover’s way of saying “green”, the thing is simply stunning. There isn’t a single angle from which this SUV looks anything short of gorgeous. The beauty doesn’t stop at the exterior either – the interior of the Range Rover Sport is lined with leather and soft-touch surfaces everywhere. Sharing all the main buttons and displays across the dashboard with its sibling, the big Range Rover, the Sport has one of the most simplified and tidy interiors I’ve ever seen in a luxury vehicle.
Both the interior and the seats are absolutely brilliant. The driving position is upright and comfortable, and everything I would need is within reach. At just over 6’ tall with freakishly long legs, I tend to prefer two-door coupés and grand tourers. This thing though, I could live in for days at a time. It’s almost as if the Range Rover Sport eats up the kilometers in the classiest way possible. Shorter drivers (read: wealthy soccer moms from the suburbs) may have some trouble accessing things such as the navigation system.
As-tested, my 2014 Range Rover Sport came to just over $84,000. Personally, I would opt for the Meridian Premium Audio Enhancement Package. Priced at $2250, the sound bump gives you a 19-speaker 825-watt system. I’m not suggesting this upgrade because it sounds great, because when compared to Bang & Olufsen in the current Audis, it really doesn’t. I’m recommending it because the basic 380-watt Meridian stereo sounds awful. There is zero bass, and sound quality is at a near-unacceptable level. It’s a Range Rover – a proper playlist for the audiophile is mandatory.
On top of being an excellent urban runabout and a rural cruiser, the redesigned Range Rover Sport has another trick up its sleeve. It can off-road, and it can do it well. I personally think that the Sport is one of the most well-rounded vehicles on the road. It fits in just as well in the drop-off lane at the local middle school as it does on a muddy trail. The 2014 Range Rover Sport rocked my expectations and blew them out of the water. When a vehicle’s only serious flaws are the base sound system and the relatively plain colour of a particular test car, you know it’s great. Even though I love the “big daddy” Range Rover, the Sport is the one I’d be putting my money down on. It is undoubtedly the best new SUV on the market in terms of its sheer “awesome” factor, and I can’t see it being topped anytime soon.
2014 Range Rover Sport HSE Gallery