Range Rover added the Sport model to its SUV lineup in 2010 for a change of pace from the larger signature model, and completely redesigned it for 2014.
The Sport is squatty and wide, a midsize luxury SUV, with some unique changes from the larger, regular Range Rover models. The floating black Santorini roof is familiar, with a panoramic sunroof.
A black, contrasting functional hood and side air vents, along with large front air intakes and blacked-out lettering are some of the distinctions.
For 2015, seven Range Rover Sport models are available: SE, HSE, HSE Limited, Supercharged, Supercharged Limited, Autobiography and SVR, with prices from $63,350 to $110,475 before options.
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Seating for five is standard, but a two-passenger, power-folding third row is available for SE, HSE and Supercharged models.
Three engines are available: a 3.0-liter, 340-horsepower V-6; and either a normally aspirated 5.0-liter, 510-horsepower V-8, or a supercharged 5.0-liter, 550-horsepower version of that engine in the SVR model.
An eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with paddle shift and permanent all-wheel drive are standard on all models.
The all-new 2015 Range Rover Sport SVR, the most dynamically focused Land Rover ever, is also the first Land Rover to wear the new high-performance SVR badge. Seven exterior colors are offered, with black trim and headlight surrounds. Estoril Blue is exclusive to the SVR model and adds $1,800.
Inside, the seats are luxurious Oxford leather with ribbed, quilted inserts, Ebony top stitching, and reflective piping, all with the Sport SVR embossed on the seatback.
Interiors are available in Ebony Black, Ebony Black and Cirrus White, Ebony Black and Pimento Red, and Ebony Black and Tan. Standard interior trim is turned-aluminum or optional carbon-fiber trim on the door panels, center console, dash, and steering wheel.
For this review, I drove the striking Estoril Blue Sport SVR (base price $110,475 plus $995 freight) with Ebony and Cirrus interior, riding on Sport SVR-specific 21-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires.
The Sport SVR package adds, substitutes, or upgrades lots of special equipment, including the supercharged engine; switchable active exhaust with quad tailpipes; unique five-split-spoke 21-inch wheels; SVR badging on the grille and tailgate; blue Brembro brake calipers on the front; unique roof-colored spoiler; unique SVR front and rear bumpers; colored side molding with black lower finisher; gloss black mirror caps, hood, lower front bumper and fender vents, grille finisher and “Range Rover” lettering on the hood and tailgate; 14-way front SVR sport seats with lumbar, adjustable bolsters and memory; front and rear heated seats; Noble paddle shifters; and split 60/40 folding rear SVR seats.
Carbon Fiber Veneer replaced the dark turned-aluminum trim for $2,300, and an Ebony Headliner replaced the Morzine headliner for $350.
Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations designed the Sport SVR to make a strong visual statement, enhancing the exterior design and luxurious interior of Land Rover’s premium sport SUV. It begins with muscular trapezoidal air intakes in the front bumper for increased airflow to reduce the temperature of pressurized air entering the engine from the supercharger.
A new NVH comb was fitted beneath the front bumper to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics, and also reduce front-end lift, helping the front tires maintain excellent grip during spirited driving. This lower section can be removed for extreme off-roading.
A new grille in gloss black contrasted with the signature LED headlights. The clamshell hood featured revised vents along with the Range Rover script, both in gloss black. All-new fenders incorporated a distinctive gloss black vent, and unique side molding added a touch of muscularity.
Prominent Range Rover Sport SVR badging and a new high-mounted roof-color spoiler designed to reduce lift and featuring an attention-grabbing brake light added a sporty touch. My tester had a Santorini Black Contrast Roof, a $650 option.
The special SVR rear bumper incorporated unique quad exhaust pipes into a gloss black diffuser. The new switchable active exhaust with electronically controlled valves and two stages optimizes sound quality, performance and aesthetics.
At lower speeds, the valves close off two pipes. At higher speeds and increased rpms, the valves open for greater flow through all four pipes. This new soundtrack distinguishes the SVR, producing a pronounced “crackle” during deceleration – a little startling the first time it happened, as I wasn’t expecting it.
SVR’s distinctive leather sport seats offered lots of lateral support, featured a prominent contrasting strip down the center, and had sculpted, integrated head and shoulder restraints. Even in the snug cockpit, visibility was excellent, with lots of glass all around. The rotary-style shifter has been replaced by a sportier shift knob.
My SVR had a virtual instrument cluster, a front cooler box, interior mood lighting, tri-zone CFC-free climate control, hazard lights under heavy braking, front and rear fog lights, rain- and speed-sensing windshield wipers, automatic xenon headlights with LED signature daytime running lights and power washers, rearview camera, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking distance control, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
It also included side-impact door beams, head-curtain air bags for all outboard passengers, multiple height modes (access, standard, off-road, and extended height), anti-trap on all windows, retained power for all windows, power operated tailgate, universal gate/garage opener, and a sliding panoramic roof with power blind.
As an on-/off-road vehicle, the SVR utilizes all-terrain antilock braking with cornering brake control; all-terrain dynamic stability control; hill-descent control; emergency brake assist; roll-stability control; gradient-release control; enhanced electronic air suspension with automatic load leveling; adaptive dynamics, with dynamic response and dynamic program; intelligent stop and start technology; front and rear recovery hooks; and an electronic park brake.
Six Terrain Response2 settings are also available for any imaginable on-/off-road conditions: General, Dynamic, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. An “Auto” setting allows the system to select the appropriate mode on the fly, with no driver input.
Adaptive cruise with queue assist added $1,295; a premium 1,700-watt Meridian Signature Audio surround-sound system with InControl Apps tacked on $4,150; InControl Remote and Protect was an extra $400; InControl Secure added $445; and a special SVR carbon-fiber engine cover cost $2,000.
A standard eight-inch touch screen displayed information from the GPS hard disc drive navigation system (with off-road functionality and “Say what you see” voice control), the driver information system, climate control, audio, telephone, and media. The graphics were simple, and response times were sluggish, but overall the screen was easy to use.
The outboard rear seats have been redesigned to echo the performance-oriented front seats, with room for a small passenger in the ordinary middle seating area. The pull-down armrest had two cupholders and a small net pocket for storage.
Outboard seats had child-seat anchors and tethers. The rear seats recline and offer 60/40 folding capability to increase the cargo area from 27.7 cubic feet to 62.2 cubic feet.
Rear passengers had lots of legroom, adjustable air vents, and controls for air conditioning and heated seats located on the rear of the front console. A small rubber-lined cubby and 12-volt outlet were under the seat controls.
Range Rover Sport SVR’s high level of comfort, agility, and exciting performance should satisfy even the most-demanding customer. The heavy, high-riding crossover handles well in any setting, even accelerating like a sports car on the open highway.
With $14,890 in options and the freight charge added to the base price, my SVR delivered for $125,365.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.