there isn't much to choose from when it comes to cheap but capable SUVs,
Sushant Balsekar suggests you might as well go the whole hog.
The Sport is based on the more equipped, more capable and more expensive
Discovery – a stylish and luxurious seven-seat Range Rover. The
Sport is a whole six inches shorter at the wheelbase than its elder sibling.
As the Disco is expected to haul passengers and luggage in luxury, over
tough terrain, the five-seater Sport hints at an on-road utility rather
than off-road, albeit in luxury. That’s what a Range Rover is all
about – you drive through the grimiest of surfaces but the sumptuous
interiors are always there to keep you tidy and utterly comfortable. The
Sport’s interior design is in sync with the boxy exteriors. The
dash stands tall with a lot of matt-black and beige and with a sea of
controls at your disposal. The steering wheel is rack- and rake-adjustable,
the leather seats are electric with memory sensors and the centre console
is immensely functional with the central display and controls for off-road
driving. Every element is neat and tucked-in perfectly to offer you royalty.
The touch-screen display installed in the centre of the facia is quite
delightful to use and it’s not as hassling as the BMW’s i-Drive
or Audi’s MMI. The Sport’s rear is a split-gate that can be
used to just drop things in the boot or unhinge the lower lip if you need
to upload heavy luggage.
end sports-utes are among the most desirable vehicles of our times. And
they aren’t selling in large numbers here as compared to say, in
US, because they are way too expensive. Like this Land Rover Range Rover
Sport. Will the day ever come when a common man yanks open the door of
a car showroom, points at an SUV, tears out a cheque and says, ‘I’ll
have that one…in blue’? I’m pretty damn sure that day
isn’t tomorrow, or next month. For me, I hope that day will come
soon. I’m going to buy myself a Range-bloody-Rover. Heck, I’ll
buy two, ‘I’ll have that one…in blue… and pink!’
Yes, I’ll buy the Range Rover just as soon as I have Rs 63 lakh
cash in my bank account! Yes, someday…
stark and depressing reality is that I wouldn’t be climbing hills
in a Rs 63-lakh Range Rover if I weren’t an automotive journalist.
I wouldn’t be sitting in its plush leather interiors for the same
reason. I couldn’t possibly tell you about the Terrain Response
system that the Sport is equipped with, for the same reason again. I wouldn’t
be using that well-damped dial that activates six, yes six modes of off-road
aid in the Rover, if I were not blessed. And yes, I wouldn’t be
able to tell you that the Range Rover is one of the best off-roaders that
I’ve driven yet. I’m still drooling over its opulence. No
wonder it’s referred to as the Rolls-Royce of SUVs.
you’ve played around enough with the touch-screen display, doors,
windows and the music system, move downward, you’ll find the auto-shifter,
a familiar six-speed mechanism with parking-reverse-neutral-drive-tiptronic
functions. The gear changes through this box are buttery and you’ll
hardly notice or feel them taking place. It’s mated to an incredibly
refined 2.7-litre V6, 188bhp turbo-boosted diesel unit - borrowed from
Jaguar’s engine room. And so are the two optional petrol engines
that are capable of dragging an entire mountain range along - the delicious
4.4-litre petrol, a natural-breather V8 that produces a mighty 295bhp
and the violently powerful 4.2-litre supercharged petrol V8 that bellows-out
385bhp. Three engine options out of which the diesel seems to be the apt
choice. I’m pre-empting this with conviction because India is a
diesel market and one would quite naturally go in for an oil-burner rather
than either of the pocket-burners! Additionally, the turbo-diesel unit
sits at equal level to the petrol in refinement. Getting to know the diesel
at high-revs would demand a short wait till the turbo spools up after
an irritating and unexpected strain and then boom, you shoot ahead. The
cabin is masterly insulated. It arrests almost all vibrations that might
try to creep in. But the frame is tough and the rubbers and materials
used to pack up the cabin are very efficient.
Sport is supposedly the ‘soft-roader’ in the Land Rover stable.
Well, that’s if you compare it to the practicality of its stable-mates.
This Rangie is indeed an adept mountain goat but has been chiselled to
keep the urbanites happy. Or should I say, it carries those wearing Tuxedos
who like to attendconferences on hill-tops? Actually off-roading is its
core expertise but Land Rover has given its customers one more option
in the form of the Sport, which can be adapted to gallop on tarmac. Take
a look at the low profile footwear. Rare on off-roaders, aren’t
they? But the Sport, thanks to its six-point off-road controls, swears
to always remind you that it’s still an off-roader despite your
every attempt to make it a tarmac runner. The Sport is equipped to drive
through grass, over rutted surface, through sand, snow and mud besides
tarmac. All these options can be met by just rotating a smooth dial behind
the gear stick and the electronics do the rest for you. Electronics also
raises the Sport’s ground clearance so that you don’t bottom
off tarmac. And it lowers the height when you wish to barrel along the
road with the least resistance. And all this can be done at the slight
pull and push of a well-damped tiny lever, neatly placed beside the off-road
controls on the centre console.
Range Rover Sport’s low profile tyres do spoil the ride though.
It’s not as plush as you’d expect it to be. But they grip
on adequately on corners and you’ll also be impressed by its tight
body construction. The Sport has negligible roll and when I say that I
mean most SUVs around us are boats in their own glory. The BMW X5 too
is not as taut as this Range Rover. The steering also tightens up as you
increase the speed and weighs well to offer you that balance you need
when you encounter a challenging turn. The 17-inch rims are very able
off-road. Although shod with low-profiles they provide the required strength
and height to the Sport when it is challenged by hard terrain. The Sport’s
overhangs are not quite off-roader types, unlike the Discovery’s.
However, if you drive safely in the woods they won’t really kiss
The Range Rover Sport is fortified with distance sensors all around it.
A narrow lane will get the Sport beeping away almost to a shriek as if
daunted by walls that threaten the SUV to cave in. With so much happening
inside the Range Rover Sport you’ll just about forget to reverse
out of your garage. And this is what you get Rs 63 lakh onward, sheer
opulence, a barrage or electronic equipment and a brilliant carrier off
and on tarmac.
Ah, and I’ve upped my interest. I’m in the process of accumulating
doughfor either the 4.4-litre - Rs 73 lakh - or the souped-up 4.2-litre
which costs Rs 80-lakh-upward. Any contributors?