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Driven: Supply to constrain Range Rover Sport

Luxo: Range Rover's new Sport will tackle the likes of BMW's X5 and Porsche's Cayenne.

More than 500 Australian pre-orders on the books for new-gen Range Rover Sport


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4 Nov 2013

SUPPLY issues will dent sales of Land Rover’s spectacular new-generation Range Rover Sport, the British-based brand’s all-new rival to the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Porsche Cayenne.

Now on sale from $102,800 plus on-road costs, the L949 series has already accrued a wait of up to nine months for some variants worldwide.

A further bottleneck is the supply of engines from Land Rover’s previous owner Ford, which is also struggling to keep up with the demand.

Nevertheless, with over 500 pre-sale orders on the waiting list in Australia, and the factory in Solihull running at peak capacity 24-hours per day and seven days a week, Jaguar Land Rover Australia Operations Director Chris Lidis believes the new model will be the series’ most successful iteration to date.

“This car is in huge demand globally, and we’ve put up our hands for as many as we could get,” he told GoAuto at the Range Rover Sport’s national launch in Tasmania last week.

“We expect volume to be constrained at least for the first six to nine months.

We believe the car will be extremely successful but volumes are a bit of an unknown at this stage.

“We are currently negotiating with the factory. We’ve put up our hand for as many vehicles as we can get. We have to keep in mind that the (Solihull) factory is currently working at three shifts per day (to meet global orders).

“But even with the current production constraints… I am comfortable in saying we’ll have record Range Rover Sport sales next year.

“It’s worth noting though that even the old model was also constrained by supply.”

Despite its advancing years, 2012 was the previous L320 series’ best result, with 1728 sales for around 10 per cent of the large luxury SUV segment, behind the leading X5.

Mr Lidis revealed that the higher-output SDV6 version of the six-cylinder turbo-diesel is expected to be the best selling variant in Australia, in the entry-level SE and mid-range HSE derivatives from $113,600 and $125,800 respectively.

The top-of-the-line vrariants (in $145,500 Autobiography SDV6 and $182,400 Dynamic Supercharged V8 guises) are also poised to enjoy a high take-up rate.

The launch of the SDV8 turbo-diesel as well as the ‘5+2’ seven-seater layout (a $3700 option) for the first time in Range Rover Sport history will further attract customers to the series, as will the SDV6 Hybrid early in the second half of 2014.

Equalling the outputs of the 250kW/700Nm SDV8, the latter will use the SDV6 turbo-diesel engine combined with a 35kW/170Nm electric motor, to achieve a remarkable 6.3 litres per 100km.

The Sport’s growing queue of buyers comes in spite of a $2400 price rise over the outgoing model.

Land Rover retaliates by stating that potential customers should concentrate on the L494’s other numbers – such as a 24 per cent increase in efficiency thanks to a 33 per cent drop in kerb weight, 10 per cent fall in fuel consumption, six per cent improvement in aerodynamics and better dynamics due to a 25 per cent increase in stiffness.

Furthermore, even the base TDV6 SE comes with a longer list of standard features, including leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats, rear parking sensors with a camera display, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, a touchscreen with satellite navigation, 19-inch alloy wheels and a full-size spare wheel.

Built on the latest Range Rover’s advanced aluminium structure called Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA), the Range Rover Sport’s platform alone is around 40 per cent lighter.

The net result is a loss of more than 420kg on average. The lightest versions – the V6 diesels – tip the scales at 2115kg instead of 2535kg, bringing immediate cuts to emissions as well as greatly benefitting acceleration, body control, and braking properties.

Switching to the PLA architecture has also led to a significant rethink in the Sport’s proportions, eliminating the slightly awkward elongated rear overhangs.

The upshot is a more angled windscreen and a ‘cab-backward’ silhouette, accentuated by a rising belt line and the wheel-at-each-corner stance.

Overall, at 4850mm in length, the newcomer is only 149mm shorter than the full-sized Range Rover, but sits 55mm lower (1780mm), on a 2923mm wheelbase, on tracks measuring 1690mm up front and 1685mm in the rear. Width is 2073mm/2220mm with mirrors out, while height varies between 213mm (on road) and 278mm (off road). Maximum wading depth is 850mm.

To recap, the TDV6 SE is the base Sport, using a 2993cc 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel to produce 190kW at 4000rpm and 600Nm at 2000rpm. It dashes to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds, averages 7.3L/100km, and emits 194 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide pollution – 15 per cent better than the outgoing Sport.

The SDV6 version of the same engine (in SE, HSE, and Autobiography variants) ups power to 215kW but torque stays the same. It’s slightly quicker to 100km/h at 7.2s, is thirstier (7.5L/100km), and dirtier (199g/km) too. Only the diesels feature Stop/Start technology.

On the petrol front the HSE’s 2995cc 3.0-litre supercharged V6 delivers 250kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm between 3500 and 5000rpm, matches the SDV6’s sprint time, but averages 11.3L/100km and 264g/km of CO2 pollution.

Finally, the 4999cc 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in the HSE Dynamic and Autobiography Dynamic pumps out 375kW between 6000 and 6500rpm, and 625Nm from 2500 to 5500rpm, reaches 100km/h in only 5.3s, but returns just 13.8L/100km while spewing out 321g/km. Its 250km/h maximum speed is some 40km/h faster than the others’.

A ZF-built eight-speed automatic is the only transmission on offer, while two 4WD systems are in play depending on which model is chosen.

The SDV6 and V8 models use a two-speed transfer case with low-range, while the TDV6 SE and Supercharged V6 HSE employ a single-speed gearbox.

A first in the Sport, the latter saves about 18kg, and comes complete with a Torsen differential offering a 42/58 front-to-rear torque split. Depending on conditions it can direct up to 63 per cent of drive to the front axle and 77 per cent to the rear one.

Land Rover’s famous Terrain Response system has been upgraded to provide improved automatic computer-controlled off-road ability on the fly, along with adjustable air suspension, 546mm of wheel articulation, up to 278mm of clearance, and approach/departure angles of 33 and 31 degrees respectively.

Alternatively the driver can manually select Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock options. Hill Descent Control is also standard.

The air suspension is borrowed from the larger Range Rover, and can lift the ride height 65mm above the standard setting below 50km/h. It is fully independent using primarily aluminium parts, with unique tuning in arms, knuckles, links bushes, steering valves, and anti-roll bar for its role beneath the Sport.

To take advantage of the lighter and stronger platform, Dynamic Response is available on most models, providing hydraulic roll and yaw control in concert with the optional adaptive dampers (known as Adaptive Dynamics) for more car-like handling and ride qualities. Steering, by the way, is via a speed-sensitive electrically powered rack and pinion system.

The more powerful-engined models can also be had with Torque Vectoring technology, which uses the electronic differential and braking system to distribute drive between all four wheels during cornering, for improved control and grip.

The Sport’s engineers maintained the same brake sizes as in the heavier old vehicle, so the stoppers are said to be significantly more effective than before. With ventilated discs all round, diameters are rated at 350mm in the TDV6 and Supercharged V6 and 365mm in the others. High-performance models boast Brembo items.

A host of electronic driving aids are also available, from radar-controlled adaptive cruise control with Land Rover’s Intelligent Emergency Braking function, through to blind-spot monitoring with closing vehicle sensing, parallel parking assistance, sensors that warn of oncoming traffic when reversing out of a parking spot, and adaptive high-intensity discharge headlights with static bending lamps.

Maximum towing is rated between 750kg (unbraked trailer) to 3500kg (with brakes).

Personalisation choices have been extended extensively, with a fully computerised TFT instrument panel featuring virtual dials, myriad interior mood lighting options, a front console-mounted dual-view touchscreen showing different displays as to not distract the driver, deep-water warning for when wading across rivers and streams, an audio upgrade with up to 23 speakers, a complete rear-seat entertainment set-up, three or four-zone climate controls, a dual panoramic sunroof, and literally thousands of material, trim, and colour palettes.

Seven-seater versions’ twin rearmost seats fold electronically into the floor, with the second row engineered to slide 100mm fore and aft to assist entry and egress.

Land Rover says that 75 per cent of the Sport is different compared to the larger Range Rover.

Subjected to temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius to 52 degrees Celsius, at altitudes of up to 4500 metres, the Sport underwent over two years of testing in 22 countries, with in excess of 800 rig facilities simulating extreme conditions. A five-star crash test rating is anticipated.

Range Rover Sport pricing*
TDV6 SE $102,800
SDV6 SE $113,600
V6 Supercharged HSE $123,100
SDV6 HSE $125,800
SDV6 Autobiography $145,500
V8 Supercharged HSE $161,600
V8 Supercharged Autobiography $182,400* Not including on-road costs

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