Range Rover Sport SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The Sport offers a superb blend of unflappable refinement and driver engagement
Despite what their names suggest, large Sports Utility Vehicles hardly offer the best in driver engagement. There are, however, a handful of models such as the Porsche Cayenne that are able to offer a sporty and fun driving experience, despite weighing over two tonnes.
So, does the Range Rover Sport live up to its exciting name? Yes and no. Make no mistake, this is no Porsche Cayenne, nor does it handle as sharply as, say, a BMW X5 M Competition. However, thanks to a lighter, stiffer chassis, the new Sport handles much better than the model it replaces and is surprisingly fun to drive for such a large car.
The Range Rover Sport’s air suspension helps keep body lean in check through tight corners, while the steering is direct and perfectly weighted. All models come with permanent four-wheel-drive as standard, meaning that there should be plenty of grip, even in the slipperiest of conditions.
The only real issue we have with the new Range Rover Sport’s driving experience is its gearbox; when cruising around town, it gently slushes through the gears to the point you can barely notice it is doing so at all. However, when you do eventually put your foot down, it can be relatively slow to respond and doesn’t quite have the urgency of the PDK gearbox fitted to the equivalent Cayenne.
2022 Range Rover Sport: diesel engines
Despite diesel falling out of favour with UK buyers, Land Rover is still offering two models for those who prefer using the black pump at the filling station. The entry-level D300 is the cheapest engine in the Range Rover Sport lineup and comprises a 3.0-litre six cylinder engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. Altogether, this produces 296bhp and propels the two-tonne SUV from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds
If that isn’t enough, you can always opt for the higher-powered D350 model. This utilises a tuned version of the D300’s engine that instead produces 345bhp and cuts the 0-62mph time to just 5.9 seconds. Regardless of which one you choose, both diesels seem like a perfect fit for such a large car due to the huge amount of torque – even the base D300 produces a hefty 650Nm – that is available at lower speeds. While diesels are renowned for being rattly and unsophisticated, both of the Sport’s units emit a satisfying rumble and are never too obtrusive.
Keen drivers will be most interested in the two petrol models. The entry-level P400 makes use of a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine which produces a muscular 395bhp. Getting from 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds thanks to four-wheel-drive grip and instant power from the 48-volt mild hybrid system.
Topping the Range Rover Sport lineup is the P530 with its twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. This produces a monstrous 523bhp and gets the SUV from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds – on par with a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS sports car. The V8 is far from the most economical powertrain – no mild-hybrid assistance is offered – however, it sounds great and seems to fit the Range Rover ‘Sport’ brief the best thanks to its bombastic performance.
This third generation of Range Rover Sport is not the first time the SUV is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain; however, buyers now have the choice of two different power outputs. Badged P440e and P510e, both plug-in hybrids make use of a 3.0-litre six cylinder petrol engine, alongside a 38.2kWh battery and a 141bhp electric motor.
The entry-level P440e altogether produces an impressive 434bhp and can get from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds. In reality, it feels even faster thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor.
The P510e uses a more powerful variant of the six-cylinder engine in order to produce 503bhp – nearly equalling the range-topping P530 V8 model. Despite the excessive weight of the batteries and electric motor, the P510e is actually the fastest Range Rover Sport model to reach 62mph, taking just 5.4 seconds.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most plug-in hybrids, the PHEVs aren’t the best choice for keen drivers. Both variants weigh in at over 2,700kg – around 200kg more than the V8 model. Consequently, plug-in Range Rover Sports won’t feel quite as nimble as their mild-hybrid and V8 siblings on a twisty road.