Launched nearly two decades ago, Land Rover has taken a unique step by producing the Range Rover Sport alongside its flagship Range Rover model. This move aimed to imbue the Sport with a distinct identity, though while achieving this visually, the two vehicles remain quite similar in most other aspects.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) recently unveiled its Reimagine strategy, outlining plans to establish Defender, Discovery, and Range Rover as standalone brands. While the Evoque serves as the entry point to the Range Rover lineup and the Velar occupies the mid-range, the Range Rover Sport‘s proximity to the flagship Range Rover in terms of luxury, interior space, and driving dynamics may lead those with the means to opt for the pinnacle of the range.
For those drawn to the athletic aesthetics of the Range Rover Sport or the image it conveys, several options are available, commencing with the P360 SE priced at $83,600. The Dynamic SE variant adds enhanced power and style for a slightly higher price. However, the range culminates in the P635 SV Edition One, an imposing $180,000 offering equipped with a BMW-derived 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine.
In the previous year, the US market saw the introduction of the Range Rover Sport PHEV in the P440e configuration, delivering 434 horsepower. However, Land Rover has now unveiled the P550e for the 2024 model year, accompanying the new Sport SV. This upgraded version boasts an impressive 543 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, courtesy of an innovative 214-horsepower electric motor.
The plug-in hybrid variant has now been more distinctly differentiated from the regular Sport P400, with only the SV version offering more power, totaling 626 horsepower. However, these higher-powered options come at a premium of 50% and can be somewhat elusive in availability.
With a price tag just under $120,000, the PHEV P550e represents a substantial investment. Nevertheless, it offers exceptional value by providing a remarkably capable SUV. Swift, agile, luxurious, spacious, and armed with unparalleled off-road capabilities within its segment.
These insights were gleaned from our experiences at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we had the opportunity to ride in a Range Rover Sport P530 on the motor circuit and off-road tracks. Subsequent time spent with the P510e (unavailable in the US) in the UK last month further reinforced these observations.
Uniquely Styled But Still A Range Rover
Distinctive differences between the Sport and the standard Range Rover are most pronounced in the rear design. The Sport features a substantial rear spoiler and a distinct taillight arrangement, which admittedly lacks the elegance of the Range Rover’s concealed lights. However, the robust exhaust system lends an assertive touch.
From the side view, a floating roof design emerges, created through darkened pillars that seamlessly merge the bodywork into the glass, achieving an aesthetic reminiscent of an infinity pool’s edge. Sporting a more sculpted front end, the Sport possesses a captivating appeal, perhaps surpassing its larger sibling in terms of visual impact, even if it doesn’t match the same level of refinement.
Unless you choose Fuji White, selecting a paint color will require an additional expense. Metallic paints come at a price of $710, while Premium Metallics command $1,750. For those desiring the pinnacle of exclusivity, SV Bespoke Ultra Metallic Paints boasting a Gloss Finish demand a substantial $8,450 investment. At the zenith of the offerings, a striking Satin Finish, available exclusively in Eiger Grey (as showcased here), can be yours for $10,450.
This exquisite paint application boasts a delicate texture, creating a compelling contrast with the 23-inch gloss black wheels ($1,100) and the Black Exterior pack ($750).
Minimalist Interior, Maximum Result
Elevating its standing, Land Rover has raised the bar in both the new Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport, delivering an interior that stands among the finest in its class. Infused with elegance and astute design, the cabin caters exquisitely to both brief drives and extended journeys, epitomizing the craftsmanship one would expect from an ultra-luxury automaker.
Exclusive to the PHEV variant is the Autobiography trim, boasting a wealth of premium features. This encompasses 22-way heated and ventilated memory front seats with massage functionality, as well as power-recline rear seats that offer heating and ventilation. The cabin indulges in opulence with the SV Bespoke Full Extended Leather upgrade, Suedecloth headlining, and a Meridian 3D Surround sound system.
For an additional investment of $4,500, the Meridian Signature sound system elevates the auditory experience, boosting power from 800W to 1,430W and expanding the speaker count to 29. Even to a non-audiophile, the result is impressive.
In a refreshing departure from the norm, Land Rover provides an alternative to leather at no extra cost: Ultrafabrics material. Our model showcased the Light Cloud and Ebony finished Ultrafabrics, which radiated a premium feel akin to leather. An option for a non-leather steering wheel is available at $300.
While many car manufacturers fill the dashboard space with touchscreens and glossy surfaces, the Range Rover Sport adopts a clean and minimalist approach. This design philosophy cultivates an environment free of clutter, in harmony with the brand’s ‘delete with a purpose’ ethos.
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Seated a touch lower and steering a bit smaller than its Range Rover counterpart, the driving position is remarkable. The curved Pivi Pro infotainment screen minimizes glare, and although the climate controls stand independently, they require a brief adjustment period, as temperature, fan settings, and heated seats are managed using the same knob.
Embedded speakers in the headrests cater to immersive audio and double as noise-cancellation components, creating an environment of near-silence. Although not as hushed as a Cullinan, it offers an impressive level of serenity.
For practicality, the cabin offers ample storage solutions. A center console refrigerator compartment accommodates beverages and snacks, while USB-A and USB-C ports, a dual glove compartment, and an abundance of cupholders provide additional convenience.
Allowing natural light to fill the cabin, the panoramic roof contributes to an airier ambiance. While this does result in a slight reduction in headroom, the compensatory feature of reclining seats ensures backseat occupants remain comfortably seated.
Despite its more compact overhangs, the Sport maintains an identical wheelbase of 118 inches as the Range Rover. Consequently, the rear passenger space remains generous, affording ample knee room for adult travelers.
Exhibiting the same commitment to quality seen in the front, the rear area boasts high-grade materials and finishes. Even with a substantial baby seat positioned in the middle, passengers on either side enjoyed sufficient comfort to nod off during lengthy stretches on the highway.
While the trunk capacity may not be vast, it provides adequate room for a week’s worth of luggage. Capable of accommodating several large suitcases, a stroller, and additional bags, it proves suitable for various travel scenarios.
The convenience of entering and exiting the Sport is further enhanced by the Access mode. This function lowers the air suspension, gradually bringing the vehicle closer to the ground, thereby facilitating seamless transitions in and out of the vehicle.
The PHEV Makes Sense
Boasting an asserted 59 miles of electric-only range, conveniently replenishable in under an hour with a DC fast charger, the PHEV configuration offers practicality for daily use, especially with the convenience of a home charger. However, economic viability may not be its strongest point, as the cost of electricity can sometimes surpass that of traditional fuels.
Through a basic street charger, we gained approximately 20 miles of range in about three hours, at an expense of around $8. While this pales in comparison to the cost and efficiency of gasoline, the equation becomes more favorable when considering the affordability of home charging.
The hybrid system seamlessly combines a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine with an electric motor and battery. The gasoline engine operates in near silence unless pushed to its limits, making it challenging to distinguish between the two power sources. This serene driving experience is further complemented by the eight-speed transmission, which smoothly transitions between gears, whether cruising along urban streets or accelerating on highways.
Living up to its nomenclature, the 6,000-pound SUV accelerates to 60 mph in a swift 4.7 seconds. While notably quicker than the base P360 model, it falls short of the SV’s impressive 3.6-second sprint time.
Navigating low speeds proves a delight, thanks to the suspension’s adept absorption of road irregularities, even with the presence of 23-inch wheels. The rear-wheel steering system enhances maneuverability, particularly in tight situations. From the elevated vantage point, the road and surroundings unfold before you, aided by massage seats that alleviate the discomfort of inching through traffic.
When the need arises for quick parking, the automatic parking feature shines. While I consider myself adept at reverse parking, certain scenarios, such as heavy rain and impatient traffic, make the convenience of letting the car perform the task a welcome tool. This is particularly true when urgency mounts, like when kids are clamoring for a restroom break.
Supremely Competent On All Surfaces, At All Speeds
On country roads, switch the dial to Dynamic, and inputs are sharpened, the suspension stiffens, and you can have some fun. Certainly more than the Range Rover, but it’s not in the same league as the Porsche Cayenne and significantly less so than the Lamborghini Urus.
The Range Rover Sport is supremely composed at high speed, the rear-axle steering and active differentials making it feel smaller and lighter than it really is, giving you the confidence to really push it. And the SUV is equally at home off the beaten track, unlike most other cars in its class.
It boasts the same two-speed transfer case used in the Defender, and combined with power sent to all four wheels, its low-range control is phenomenal, making light work of rugged ground and steep gradients.
After spending ten days driving the new Range Rover Sport Hybrid (PHEV), I reached the conclusion that while this is a wonderful car and one of the best in its class, I wouldn’t recommend buying it over a standard Range Rover Hybrid.
If you dig the looks and plan to spend most of your time behind the wheel on fast, serpentine roads, then you will love it. But if you are at a stage in your life when you need a luxury British SUV on your drive (or in your fleet), plump for the full-fat Range Rover.