Aside from the loopy SVR, the top end of the Range Rover Sport’s engine range is a 503bhp supercharged V8 petrol unit familiar from performance variants of Jaguar saloons and coupes. Its relevance in a car this large and practically minded is an argument for elsewhere; what’s hard to contest is that it lends the Sport an opulence no diesel engine (no matter how sophisticated) is capable of serving up.
Peak torque arrives at 2500rpm, but throttle response and accelerative thrust are impressive before this point in the rev range. It’s a hugely flexible engine, and despite having a claimed 2335kg to shift (2469kg on our scales), it never feels short on power. In fact, with third gear not reaching its rev limit until beyond 85mph, you’ll rarely use more than half-throttle in smooth, measured driving.
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The ZF automatic gearbox is perfectly suited to the car, and there aren’t many scenarios that call for you to switch from its standard Drive to Sport mode, or to use its steering wheel-mounted paddles to swap ratios yourself. Should you decide to push the Sport harder, though, flicking between its eight gears is pretty intuitive.
Other engine options comprise a 288bhp 3-litre V6 diesel, a 335bhp V6 diesel-electric hybrid and a 334bhp 4.4-litre V8 diesel. All provide the Sport with ample performance.
Also available is JLR’s 2-litre SD4 Ingenium diesel four-pot, the first of its type in a full-size Land Rover SUV. In this twin-turbocharged guise it produces 237bhp and 369lb ft of torque with a combined (though unlikely) average of 45.6mpg.
There are two choices of four-wheel-drive systems, both of them permanent. A more off-road minded option offers up high and low range gearing, and in regular conditions, splits power 50/50 between the car’s axles, but can send 100 per cent of its power to either when required. Alternatively, a more road-biased option is simpler, with a single-speed transfer case, and a standard 42/58 front/rear torque split, with the potential for up to 62 or 78 per cent of power to go to front or rear axles respectively when required. This system is also 18kg lighter.
For those interested, the top-of-the-line Range Rover Sport SVR brings a level of on-road performance never before seen in a Range Rover product. Capable of lapping the Nurburgring in an impressive 8min 14sec, monumental for an SUV, it's performance is on a par with the likes of a BMW X5 M.
Exterior changes include added cooling for the brakes, as well as SVR badging and paint schemes. It's the 542bhp supercharged V8 lifted from the Jaguar F-Type R that's responsible for the performance, dishing out a 4.5 second 0-60mph time.