2014 Range Rover Sport, the CEO’s rock crawler: Motoramic Drives
Clinging to a rutted wall of sand, the redesigned 2014 Range Rover Sport ascends to the peak, picking a careful path between ancient California redwoods that predate the first Europeans in America. Not a half-hour earlier, the Rover was rocking — but not rolling — through forested asphalt curves at speeds that would have seemed surreal in an earlier, clumsier era of SUV’s. The Rover Sport plays a 5,000-lb. cosmic joke, creates a psychic disconnect that no current SUV can match: One part river-wading, boulder-dashing Tarzan, one part pavement scorcher for up to seven slack-jawed passengers.
And later this evening, the Rover plays a third role: Docking at a Silicon Valley restaurant, its upper-crust standing so apparent that wealthy Tesla owners leer with the desire usually reserved for Internet IPO’s. Yes, you will be seeing Range Rover Sports at the temples of Google, the player’s lot at Giants Stadium and every freaking overpriced spa, resort, boutique and farm-to-table establishment in America.
The Rover Sport waded ashore in America for 2006. Many auto journalists refused to get it, scratching their reactionary heads and wondering why anyone would want a smaller, sportier, slope-roofed Range Rover when they could have the real thing. As usual, actual moneyed buyers ignored the WalMart wisdom of auto scribes, making the Sport the best-selling Rover model in America. It maintains that position today, with New Yorkers buying more Rover Sports than any other market, including Los Angeles.
Yet for all its style and mountain-man skills, the Rover Sport wasn’t all that sporty on pavement, certainly not in the league of a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne. Consider that changed.
Land Rover calls the redesigned Sport simply the fastest, best-handling Rover in history. In this case, that’s no marketing fluff. With a 5-second surge to 60 mph, the Sport is faster than a base Porsche Boxster. That claim, and that pace, requires choosing the Jaguar-based, 510-hp V-8 fitted to Supercharged ($79,995) and Autobiography ($93,295) models.
But as with any out-of-shape athlete, putting more sport in the Sport was as much about diet and exercise as sheer power.
Harnessing the aluminum-intensive chassis of newer Rover and Jaguar models helps the Sport shed a claimed 800 lbs. – though adding porky options, like a panoramic sunroof that adds back more than 100 lbs. – can re-expand the Rover’s metaphorical spare tire. This brute can still shoot past 5,100 lbs. in V-8 trim, with Land Rover claiming 4,727 lbs. for the base V-6. And the Sport only weighs about 100 fewer pounds than the six-inch longer, two-inch-taller Range Rover on which it’s based.