Make / Model Search

New models - Land Rover - Range Rover Sport

First drive: Rangie Sport eyes X5 territory

Range finder: Despite its name, Range Rover Sport is based on Discovery underpinnings.

Land Rover launches its X5-chasing Range Rover Sport luxury SUV Down Under

2 Aug 2005

LAND ROVER has released its fifth all-new model line-up in the English marques’ 57-year history.

The Range Rover Sport, codenamed L320, is a luxury SUV based on the latest (L319) Discovery’s T5 platform and shares most of its underpinnings.

This is in spite of its slightly shrunken RR appearance and namesake.

However, from $85,000 to $150,000 for the 20-only fully loaded ‘First Edition’ models, the Sport straddles both of its established siblings on price.

Furthermore, although the design references the RR (particular the previous-generation P38 edition), the lower and sloping roofline, faster-rake windscreen and D-pillars, smoother clamshell bonnet, similar but slimmer headlight clusters and single-piece and more-rounded tailgate (with separate-opening glass) visually differentiate the two.

Built at Solihull in England, the Sport is meant to look like it’s "going fast even when it’s standing still," according to LR design director Geoff Upex.

Helping out its top speed is a competitive 0.37 drag coefficient rating.

Mechanically the Sport falls in line with the latest Discovery in sharing Jaguar-derived engines (a turbo-diesel V6 and a pair of AJ-V8s – 4.4 and supercharged 4.2).

All have been heavily modified to suit their LR applications.

The Sport’s archenemy may be the BMW 5 Series-based X5, but it features LR’s full complement of ‘Terrain Response’ off-road chassis developments as well as the availability of ‘Dynamic Response’ for performance-car on-road capabilities.

The latter is a hydraulically activated, computer-controlled anti-roll system that senses (by monitoring steering angle and horizontal acceleration) and then reacts to counteract body roll, the natural tendency of a tall and heavy vehicle through corners.

Think BMW’s ‘Dynamic Drive’ and you’ll get the picture. Dynamic Response becomes available as a $6700 option in non-supercharged models from December this year.

Steering is by the ZF Servotronic rack and pinion speed-sensitive system that’s rigidly mounted directly onto the chassis frame for sharper responses.

Unusually for an SUV, LR honed the Sport’s handling at Germany’s Nürburgring race circuit and the Nardo high-speed test track in Italy, so the availability of four-piston Brembo brakes raises no eyebrows.

Keen to communicate the Sport as its "best-performing and best-handling vehicle" ever, LR has dubbed it the ‘Sports Tourer’.

Nevertheless the company says it subjected the Sport to its usual off-road test program, with in excess of six million kilometres covered in the Outback, Dubai, Death Valley, Canada, Sweden and in Great Britain over a 110 degrees centigrade temperatures.

It was devised in concert with the second-generation Discovery soon after Ford purchased LR from BMW in 2000, making the Sport only the second LR developed under its stewardship after the Disco.

So there’s a strong integrated body-frame structure (basically a refined separate ladder-frame chassis) supporting steel doors and mudguards, boron steel A and B-pillars and an aluminium bonnet and tailgate.

And underneath all models there’s independent double-wishbone air suspension made up of electronically controlled air springs that harden at speed or during cornering.

However the wheelbase is 14cm shorter than the Discovery’s for improved agility, while the suspension is set firmer for sportier responses.

Like the Discovery, there are five off-road ‘terrain’ settings – normal, grass/gravel/snow (slippery conditions), mud and ruts, sand and rock crawl – selectable by the Sport’s driver.

This accesses an assortment of advanced driver aids – namely stability, traction and anti-lock braking controls – as well as the latter’s Hill Descent function, ride height and the standard automatic gearbox.

24 center image Driving all four wheels full time, the auto is a ZF six-speed (6HP26) unit with sequential-shift capabilities and a lower-ratio-extending Sport mode. The 4.2 supercharged Sport’s gearbox has additional clutch-strengthening to cope with the extra torque.

There’s a two-speed transfer box with on-the-fly Low range for off-road action, as well as LR’s E-diff centre and rear differentials (in V8s) for when performance dynamics are the priority.

The E-diff biases drive in a 50:50 front/rear distribution set-up, automatically varies torque depending on conditions and can lock the centre diff automatically using a multi-plate clutch.

Least powerful of the motors the gearbox is mated to is a version of the 2.7-litre common-rail turbo-diesel V6 servicing Jaguar’s S and XJ types.

Pumping out 140kW of power at 4000rpm and 440Nm of torque from 1900rpm, it has a single-KKK rather than the twin turbocharging found in the cars mentioned above for broader low-speed tractability.

Next up comes a 220kW/425Nm 4.4-litre petrol V8, with power and torque topping out at 5500rpm and 4000rpm respectively. A lightweight unit, it features variable valve timing technology (VCP in LR-speak) and oil-lubrication-abilities even at extreme angles.

Sportiest engine of the range is the closely related supercharged 4.2 V8.

Its 287kW at 5750rpm means power jumps 30 per cent, while 29 per cent extra torque (for a 550Nm maximum) helps a 0-100km/h-sprint time of about 7.6 seconds – making this the fastest LR ever.

Inside the five-seater Sport steals cues from both siblings with dashboard architecture similar to the Discovery’s married to a high specification that mirrors the RR’s.

Yet the instrumentation and major controls are placed closer to the driver for a more ‘intimate’ environment despite the lofty seating.

On the safety front the strong body devised to cope with the vehicle’s performance aspirations also leads to increased crash worthiness.

Six airbags (front, side and downward-deploying full-length curtain types) are standard, along with fuel and engine cutout, doors-unlock and interior-lights-on devices in an event of a crash.

Equipment levels include automatic air-conditioning, electric front seat adjustment and an electronic park brake, while more money buys satellite navigation, high-end audio with rear DVD screens, an integrated mobile phone, bi-Xenon headlights with cornering capabilities and adaptive cruise control (not on diesel models).

The Supercharged model also adds 20-inch alloy wheels (up from the base Sport’s 17-inch set 18s and 19s are also available), twin stainless steel exhausts and additional brightwork to the body.

LR says that, at $85,000, the Sport Td6 is over $10,000 less than an equivalently equipped BMW X5 3.0d, while a buyer stands to save around $9000 if he/she specifies a VW Touareg 4.2 V8 to a standard Sport 4.2 V8’s level.

Sport sales begin in early August, with LR hoping to sell around 1100 units in its first year on sale, along with over 2000 Discovery models and around 200 RR Vogues.

New Landies thin on ground

The last all-new LR model was the Freelander of 1997.

A compact SUV called into service against the still-burgeoning Toyota Rav4 set, it remains Europe’s bestselling in its segment despite the arrival of newer rivals.

A second-generation Freelander is due next year that’s loosely derived from Ford’s C1 (Focus II, Mazda3, Volvo S40/V50) small-car platform.

Before the Freelander came the Discovery in 1990.

It was a more-affordable development of the original Range Rover of 1971 designed to tackle the likes of Nissan’s Patrol, the Toyota LandCruiser 80 series and Mitsubishi’s popular Pajero.

Meanwhile the original Land Rover, now called the Defender, debuted in 1948 as Britain’s all-wheel drive answer to the pioneering Willys Jeep (derived from the initials for ‘general purpose’ vehicle).

RR Sport specifications:

Length: 4788mm
Width: 1928mm
Height: 1817mm
Front overhang: 880mm
Rear overhang: 1163mm
Max ground clearance: 172mm std/227mm off-road
Track front/rear: 1605/1612mm
Wading depth: 700mm
Turning circle: 11.6 metres
Unladen weight: 2455/2480/2572kg TDV6/4.4/4.2 SC
Braked towing capacity: 3500kg

2005 Range Rover Sport pricing:

TDV6: $85,000
V8: $101,000
Supercharged: $136,500
First Edition: $150,000

GoAuto can help you buy a new Range Rover Sport

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Land Rover models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here