Land Rover engineers have put the athletic Range Rover Sport on a remarkable diet.
For 2014, Range Rover Sport sheds 800 pounds, tipping the scale to a lean 4,700 pounds thanks in part to a new aluminum unibody structure.
Contributing to the reduction in weigh is loss of Sport’s 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, replaced by a lighter 3.0L supercharged V6 engine that builds 340 horsepower.
Performance buyers looking for more “sport” may opt for a supercharged 5.0L V8 engine generating 510 hp that catapults Range Rover Sport 0 to 60 miles per hour in five seconds.
Both engines are paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy for the V6 yields 17 miles per gallon/city and 23 mpg/highway. The V8 ranks 14/19 mpg. respectively.
A standard Intelligent Stop/Start system helps reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions in stop and go driving.
Recently, I tested both models over 150 miles of twisty rural roads across the hills above Menlo Park, Calif., en route to a privately owned 1,000-acre ranch for a 2.5 hour off-road trek through back country woodlands.
The V6 and V8 models come similarly equipped with a superbly crafted leather wrapped cabin that transports four adult occupants in spacious comfort.
Three people may be belted in the second row with an available power-fold third row designed for occasional transport of two youngsters.
Driver and front passenger bookend a bold instrument panel punctuated by a dynamic center stack and console with 50 percent less switch gear for easy at-a-glance operation.
Sport’s driving dynamics are equally impressive.
Steering input is crisp and controlled with no compromise to handling despite the engine horsepower difference.
As expected, off the line and passing acceleration is dominated by the V8. So is the throaty exhaust note that comes with eight cylinder power.
Ride quality is exceptional with a near-flat body posture when cornering courtesy of Sport’s Dynamic Response and Adaptive Dynamics systems.
Motoring off-pavement at 3 miles per hour makes traveling over the river and through the woods an exceptional experience in the 2014 Range Rover Sport.
Power and torque goes to all four wheels courtesy of Range Rover’s new fully automated Terrain Response 2 System.
The system automatically selects the most suitable terrain programs ranging from gravel, sand and snow to mud, ruts and rock crawl.
Sport’s suspension travel stretches 21.5 inches and if needed can ford a wading depth of 33.5 inches.
“Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 enables even non-expert drivers to benefit from the system’s full capabilities, confident that the vehicle is automatically configured in the best possible way for each moment of their trip,” says Range Rover Sport Chief Engineer, Stuart Frith.
Frith makes a valid point considering our region’s reputation for Lake Effect Snow road conditions.
The 2014 Range Rover Sport is priced from $63,495 to $93,295 including destination and delivery charges.