Range Rover Sport SUV (2005-2013)

“The Range Rover Sport is better to drive on road than the original Range Rover, but lacks its plush image.”

Carbuyer Rating

3.7 out of 5

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Owners Rating

4.6 out of 5

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Pros

  • Cabin quality and ambience
  • High standard specification
  • Very practical indeed

Cons

  • The regular Range Rover is classier
  • Still feels big around town
  • Outrageous fuel and tax costs

For the latest model, visit the CarBuyer new Range Rover Sport review. Its predecessor is a bit smaller than the previous generation Range Rover proper, and is easier to maneouvre while also being nearly as proficient off-road. Even though it is now one generation out of date, it still has a wonderfully designed, beautifully finished interior, with loads of space and an enormous boot (which is actually bigger than the newer model). For keen drivers, there's the truly fast (and fuel guzzling) 5.0-litre supercharged version, which is the engine for you, provided money really is no object. For the rest of the world, the 3.0-litre diesel is still brilliant, and at least 50 per cent more economical, if hardly up to snuff on newer models in terms of improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Engines are thirsty and emissions are high

It’s a big car, so it was never going to excel here, with the 3.0-litre V6 diesel returning 32.1mpg - a figure that you’ll actually only get close to if you’re doing the majority of your mileage driving on the motorway. When you’re driving around town or on winding country roads, fuel economy in the low 20s is more realistic. And the supercharged 5.0-litre engine is even less efficient, with gigantic CO2 emissions of 230g/meaning that it costs £790 to tax for the first year, while the supercharged petrol car is even more expensive, at £1,000. Servicing will be expensive, too.

Engines, drive & performance

It feels more agile than the standard Range Rover

Choosing a Sport over a standard Ranger Rover means you get a lower drive, more compact dimensions and extra agility on the road. You do lose that feeling of ultimate luxury, but you do feel more connected to the road. As such, the Sport lets the driver feel the lumps and bumps on the road, but still has light steering, a smooth automatic gearbox, and, in reality, feels more at home being driven at slower speeds. You can put it into ‘Sport’ mode by turning the selector dial, which reduces body roll when driving through corners and cuts down the amount of steering assistance. Both engines, the 5.0-litre Supercharged petrol and 3.0-litre V6 diesel, offer lots of performance and accelerate the heavy car smoothly and effortlessly - with the 503bhp petrol engine being especially fast - more than most drivers will really need, to be honest.

Interior & comfort

It's the sportiest version of the Range Rover, but still very comfortable

You’re nicely insulated from any engine, road or wind noise inside the Sport, even when driving at motorway speeds, and while you don’t get the same cushion-soft suspension as is fitted in the standard Range Rover, you could hardly describe it as being uncomfortable. The gearbox makes smooth changes, while the transmission is generally quiet. While there's no seven-seat option, four adults will still fit inside the Sport with no difficulty. Pony up the extra cash for the Autobiography specification and heated leather seats, a stitched leather dashboard and door linings, and a powerful Harmon Kardon stereo are all fitted as standard, giving it a supreme level of luxury.

Practicality & boot space

It's got a big boot, and makes an excellent tow car

With the rear seats in place, the Sport offers 958 litres of boot space (bigger than a Mercedes M-Class), which increases to more than double the capacity when the back seats are folded flat (smaller than the M-Class). The boot door opens electrically, which makes loading bulky items very easy. There’s less room for passengers in the back seats than in the standard Range Rover, however, and if you want to add two more seats, it costs an extra £1,500 to install the third row of seats, which automatically fold up from inside the boot floor. When they are up, they’re really only suitable for small children, and even then only for short journeys, and you lose your spare wheel because of storing the seats when not in place. Overall, in all honesty, if you want to maximise your carrying capacity, we’d recommend going for the cheaper seven-seat Land Rover Discovery every time. The Sport has a big glove compartment and a large central storage box that’s quite useful. It makes a great tow car, too.

Reliability & safety

Its tough bodywork offers impressive safety, but reliability could be better

Land Rover’s already iffy reputation for reliability has taken even more of a hit recently. In the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the manufacturer fell five places from its 2012 ranking of 20th in the list, falling to 25th, dangerously close to the bottom, with reliability being the most often cited cause of dissatisfaction. The Sport itself doesn’t feature in the poll’s top 150 cars, but its bigger brother, the standard Mk III Range Rover, placed 84th, while its little brother the Evoque came 52nd. Given its premium brand reputation, Land Rover working hard to correct these issues, with the latest Range Rover looking like it should make a higher showing when it debuts in the survey. Plus, the engines and parts are all tried and tested, so the Sport remains fairly unlikely to let you down. The Range Rover Sport does have a maximum five-star rating from the Euro NCAP crash safety tests matching the standard Range Rover SUV’s score. Airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes come fitted as standard, while option safety equipment includes blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system and a wade detection system that warns of deep water when you’re driving off-road.

Price, value for money & options

Lavish equipment lists include leather seats and satellite navigation

Obviously, with a newer model now on the market, the old Sport is less of a value proposition – if it ever really was one. This Sport sits between the standard Range Rover, which is more expensive, and the bigger but cheaper Land Rover Discovery – which, by the way, has an almost identical interior. So, its value really depends on what you want out of your SUV and how much you’re willing to spend on it. Equipment is as lavish as you’d expect across the whole range, with leather seats, sat-nav and parking sensors all fitted as standard. It’s not value for money in the conventional sense, and you could argue that other models in the Land Rover stable do most of the same things better. And if you wait only a short time, you should be able get a much deal on the used car market.

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