Range Rover unveils the 2014 Range Rover Sport, now available with the 4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel found in full-size Range Rover and to suit its new application, the engine has been given its own ECU calibration plus a revised intake.
The ECU calibration plus a revised intake makes is presence felt the most even under light throttle loads, and with the Terrain Response set to its default automatic mode, the engine emits a gurgling, bassy noise that penetrates the cabin much more obviously than in the Range Rover.
Press the rotary Terrain Response controller and rotate it all the way to the left and Dynamic mode is engaged. This gives extra weight to the steering, particularly when moving the wheel off center, and the most aggressive response from the throttle and gearbox. The Brembo brakes are impressive at shedding speed, too, and have a progressive, confidence-inspiring pedal feel, even after plenty of hard driving.
Despite this being a large, luxury SUV, the body control is impressive, even with the heavier diesel V8 in the nose – dive under braking is minimal, while roll is well contained so your passengers won’t get thrown around the cabin. Dynamic mode gives the power-train a rear-wheel-biased feel, which is particularly noticeable when accelerating through tighter bends, and makes the Sport a surprisingly engaging drive that’s not unlike a larger, faster version of the Evoque.
The gearbox is a good match for the engine, too. It’s the much-vaunted ZF eight-speeder used by BMW to great effect, and shifts quickly and smoothly, barely interrupting the passage of power from the Sport’s new engine to all four wheels. These can be done by pulling the gear-knob across to the left, then back for up and forward for down, just like the sequential box of a racing car, or via steering wheel-mounted paddles. The latter are the most practical, but it’s a shame that the paddles themselves are made of thin plastic, as they are right across the JLR line-up, rather than some nice, tactile metal as they are on a similarly priced Porsche.