Robb Review: Range Rover Sport V8
Athletic, lavish and capable – the newcomer is serving up a proper sports-luxe attitude.
If there ever was a fashion statement that has not aged well into 2023, it’s Karl Lagerfeld’s now-famous comment, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.”
It was made on the eve of the sports-luxe boom, which would see sneakers, performance-wear, and, yes, ‘trakkies’, hit the haute couture runways (and is almost comical now when we consider that the US$400 billion athleisure industry is ruled by the biggest luxury brands in the world, all of which now peddle sweatpants).
Athleisure-luxe signals a sense of control, wellness, self-worth and performance. As Australians, we know this already and it’s why our sport-rich, luxury-hungry, well-travelled lifestyles have defined our hunger for cool, automotive accompaniments that reflect these attitudes — and why more Australians choose the Range Rover Sport over it’s bigger, more extravagant brother.
Lucky for us, Range Rover is tapping into this mindset with vigour and has upped the prestige, performance, comfort and design stakes with the new generation Range Rover Sport —specifically, the P530 twin-turbo V8 variant, which sits at the top of the diesel, petrol and hybridised lineup.
Unlike the full-sized Rangey, more suited to plush sailing, the P530 (available in the Dynamic HSE and up) brings the spice. Under its curvaceous, clean and slightly intimidating —in a futuristic, modernist way—bonnet is the new flagship 309kW/750Nm, BMW-sourced twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8, capable of cracking 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
The new Sport’s platform is 35 per cent stiffer than the previous model, giving it a nice balance of comfortable rigidity on road. And when combined with the rear electronic differential, chassis control systems, torque vectoring by braking and all-wheel-steering, all explicitly tuned for driving purity, it’s a ready-for-anything, physics-blurring good time. A fun fact by example: Sport measures 4.95m x 2.21m, but its turning circle equals that of a small German hatchback, at 10.95m.
In Dynamic driving mode, the Sport’s muscles clench — throttle response sharpens, steering gets weighty, and it devours country road corners with aplomb. The eight-speed transmission could shift quicker at high speeds, but the ride dynamics are a nice payoff. The Sport debuts a new Dynamic Air Suspension system, which utilises twin-valve active dampers (basically, two air chambers, or’ volume air springs’); tech-speak for whip-responsive ride and handling, deployed as needed.
The dampers are coupled with electronic anti-roll bars that can generate enough force to keep the car relatively level during high cornering and off-road situations. Keep in mind, it’s still a big car, but there is a notable Jekyll and Hyde scenario that happens during the program switch between lush cruise and harder drive for when the city is in your (digitalised) rear mirror.
Since its 2004 launch, the Range Rover Sport has been widely considered the OG all-rounder performance SUV, and today’s market isn’t lacking. However, few have managed to meet the expectations of the luxury athleisurist as Range Rover has with the Sport. Like its big brother, consumers can expect exquisite craftsmanship and details, like satin-burnished copper garnishes, and considered materials like buttery semi-aniline leathers, high-end sustainable fabrics, satin-feel carbon fibre and lovely walnut veneers.
The Sport of course, also brags intelligent safety features, as expected; and surprisingly, JLR has been relatively generous with as-standard feature offerings too (including the 3D surround camera). Ultimately, the Sport raises the bar on performance meets lifestyle-enriching luxury, and does so without compromising on forward-thinking design, dynamics or true versatility. There aren’t many competitors that can claim the same. It’s fun, capable and does pretty much everything its owner would need it to—and let’s be honest, probably a lot more.
Range Rover Sport pricing starts at $139,160; P530 pricing is from $197,809; landrover.com
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