The Range Rover Sport is more modern and easier to manoeuvre than the Range Rover proper - and is nearly as good off-road. It has a wonderfully designed, beautifully finished interior, loads of space and an enormous boot. For keen drivers, there's the brutally fast and fuel guzzling 5.0-litre Supercharged version. If money really is no object, go for that one. For the rest of us, the 3.0-litre diesel is still brilliant, and at least 50 per cent more economical.
Step into the Range Rover Sport from a Range Rover, and it will feel lower, more compact and more agile. What it loses, though, is the Range Rover's sense of absolute luxury. The Sport lets the driver feel lumps and bumps on the road, but the advantage is that it seems more ‘connected’ to it. Still, it has light steering, a smooth automatic gearbox, and feels more at home being driven slowly. It can be put into ‘Sport’ mode at the turn of a dial, which makes it corner with less body roll and reduces the steering assistance. Both engines, the 5.0-litre Supercharged petrol and 3.0-litre V6 diesel, offer lots of pulling power and move the heavy car smoothly and effortlessly - with the 503bhp petrol engine being hilariously fast.
While the Sport doesn’t quite have the pillow-soft suspension of the Range Rover, it's hardly a car that we would describe as uncomfortable. There's virtually no noise from the petrol and diesel engines at idle, while the transmission is quiet and gearchanges are smooth. At motorway speeds, road noise from the big tyres is minimal. There's no seven-seat option, but four adults will fit in no problem. Pay for the Autobiography specification, and standard features like heated leather seats, a stitched leather dashboard and door linings, and a powerful Harmon Kardon stereo give it an unrivalled feel of luxury.
Land Rover's reputation for reliability has suffered a little of late, but annual updates to the line-up mean the Range Rover Sport is much improved. The car has a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating, and a myriad of stability and braking assistance features.
Few cars boast a boot as big as the Sport's 958-litre cargo area, which extends to more than twice that with the rear seats folded. The boot door opens electrically, too, making it easy to load bulky items. However, if you want ultimate carrying capacity, you'd go for the cheaper seven-seat Land Rover Discovery every time. The Range Rover Sport has a big glovebox and a large central storage box. It makes a great tow car, too.
Value for money
It's pricey against the bigger Land Rover Discovery (with its almost identical interior), but good value compared to the regular Range Rover. Equipment is lavish across the board, with leather seats, satellite navigation and parking sensors all fitted as standard.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel returns 32.1mpg - a figure you’ll get close to if most of your miles are covered on the motorway. Expect low 20s around town. The Supercharged 5.0-litre engine is even less efficient. Emissions of 230g/km for the diesel mean it costs £790 for its first year's tax, while the Supercharged petrol car is £1,000. Servicing will be expensive, too.