Good sport

Michael Mwai test drives the new Range Rover Sport and falls in love with this luxurious new model

MotoringIt’s no secret to those that know me that I would rather drive than fly. So when the opportunity to drive through a Boeing 787 presented itself I was more than thrilled. Yes, it may sound unbelievable, but if you are reading this article from economy class, trust me, I probably would have run over your toes at seat 30D.

I thoroughly enjoyed driving through the empty cabin of KQ’s third Dreamliner, marvelling at the engineering of this magnificent plane and thrilled to be exploring just how credible the Ranger Rover Sport is. We later borrowed an airstrip and pushed the vehicle to its limits, attaining speeds that would put a smaller fixed-wing Cessna to shame.

First, I drove the 3.0 SDV6. The power delivery was as instant as it was gratifying, and is available in two options: a 258PS (190kW) version that manages 0-100kph in just 7.6 seconds, and a 292PS (215kW) that sprints down the runway to 100kph in an even briefer 6.8 seconds. To put it in context, the take-off speed of a Boeing 737 is 250kph. This latter engine will see the Range Rover Sport attain 210kph on the open road. The Cessna on the other hand reaches 120kph at take-off.

By the time you read this article Range Rover will have launched what they claim is the fastest production SUV in the world. The Range Rover Sport SVR, with its sweet-sounding supercharged V8, will outrun a Boeing 737 by a good 10kph as it attains its top speed of 260kph. Porsche’s facelifted Cayenne GTS should surely be able to match this, if the smaller Macan manages 266kph and 0-60 in just 4.6 seconds from the same engine and just seven gears.

The Range Rover Sport SVR rapidly attains 0-100kph in a mere 4.7 seconds. Few large SUVs can offer that level of performance. This unit is a product of Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVR) team and they are proud to reveal that it’s the best yet out of Solihull and will go on sale at the end of 2014 for delivery in early 2015.

Sit back and relax
Yet all these numbers would mean nothing if you could not also enjoy a leisurely cruise about town. With leather everywhere, from dashboard to steering wheel, you will feel like royalty. Access to the super-quick eight-speed gearbox is via a traditional shifter that fits into your palm like a tailormade glove. The instrument cluster is digital and the control buttons have been decluttered to retain just a select few.

Press the keyless start button and a rotary dial rises to the occasion. When venturing off-road all you need to do is make the appropriate terrain selection, allowing the vehicle to travel at a maximum ride height of 285mm. Wheel travel is an impressive 260mm in the front and 275mm at the rear. Wheel articulation flexes by 564mm to allow for extreme off-roading. Nothing in the market segment manages that feat. The new air suspension allows a choice of two ride heights, +35mm and +65mm. For off-roaders the two-speed transfer case option that distributes power 50/50 for demanding excursions into the wild is vital. The city-biased single-speed transfer case option sends more power to the rear wheels at a 48/52 ratio. I even drove it through a riverbed full of rushing water. You can wade safely through 850mm of the stuff.

Available from RMA for Ksh13-19million. In South Africa it sells for R875,000-1,344,000 and includes a 5 year/100,000km Maintenance Plan and Roadside Assistance.

A global vehicle?
The background of 20,000 physical tests, covering over 60,000 miles in more than 20 countries in extreme conditions for a period of 18 months, speaks volumes…

Range Rover Sport SVR
Key features: Meridian Audio sound system with 19 speakers | 8- speed automatic transmission with commandshift | Xenon headlights with signature lighting | Oxford perforated leather.
Other boxes worth ticking: • Optional Wi-Fi hotspot feature: passengers can connect their devices to the vehicle’s hotspot using roof-mounted antenna • inTouch App: find your car in large airport parking lots, check fuel level and determine range, log all journeys and receive emails to control company expenses • Park assist: identify suitable parallel parking space and self park • 3.0 SDV6 with Dynamic Response and Adaptive Dynamic System: improves driving in dynamic mode • Blind spot monitoring – adds eyes at the back of your head.