The fabulous Range Stormer concept of 2004 was brought to life a year later, when Land Rover launched the Range Rover Sport. Some expressed disappointment that it wasn’t as extreme as the concept, nor offered in three-door guise. But really, such a model would have struggled to sell. I think the production version got it spot-on. (A custom coachbuilder now offers a three door conversion.)
What is it? As its name suggests, it’s a sportier version of the Range Rover. And a quite brilliant piece of marketing. It used the more affordable Discovery 3 chassis, but came with all the style of the Range Rover.
Buyers may have initially been skeptical – they were concerned that it didn’t have the Vogue’s size or suspension – but it actually brought a whole new element to the brand. It was the perfect school run, all purpose Range Rover, a worthy cut above the Land Rover Discovery 3 that buyers willingly paid extra for.
The model was launched with the Jaguar engines later to be seen in the Range Rover. This meant either a 4.2-litre supercharged V8, with 390bhp, or a normally-aspirated 4.4-litre. Both are great engines, but it’s the former that everyone has eyes for. Performance is sensational, and it really gives the Range Rover Sport character.
Indeed, alongside it, the nonsupercharged model was just a bit, well, plain. Land Rover would, in time, delete it for UK buyers.
Most popular, though, is the 2.7-litre TDV 6. This is not the fastest unit in the world, but is easily the most fuel efficient, which helps its popularity with buyers. It delivers a combined fuel consumption of 27 miles per gallon. It’s also impressively refined – and there are no visual clues from the outside that it’s diesel.
Important in this sector, where some buyers still ‘don’t do diesel’.
It was given a much-needed performance boost in 2007, though. This is when the 3.6-litre TDV 8 engine was introduced. Which really did make the Range Rover Sport complete? It was punchy, very refined, had a charismatic engine note and offered huge reserves of pulling power. Unlike the V6, it didn’t short-change the driver, which is important in this exalted sector of vehicle.
Trim lines included SE, HSE and the top-line Supercharged. The latter was launched in very special Supercharged First Edition guise. This is the most valuable – it had special alloys, dark wood, and again was a very clever piece of marketing. There was a time when they were fetching £7,000 over list.
Today, the ‘Vesuvius Orange’ paint, which the firm strictly limited in production, remains rare, and commands decent secondhand prices. The difference is not significantly greater, but when given the choice, car buyers of earlier used examples will favour the First Edition.
The most notable options are a factory fitted sunroof, rear DVD system playing though headrest mounted monitors and privacy glass (dark tinted windows). Other nice to have options include a small drinks fridge mounted in the centre console glove box. It’s a good surprise and delightful feature.
Then there are side steps. These are actually pretty essential for people under about 5ft 10in who regularly use a Range Rover. These are dealer fitted and there are different styles including electrically retractable ones. It’s worth checking that there is no damage to these as they are expensive.
Last year, the range was face lifted, with new 5.0-litre petrol V8 engines and a 3.0-litre TDV 6 diesel. This new diesel entry model is truly worthy of all superlatives. Hardly an entry level and without doubt rendering the addition cost of the TDV 8 superfluous. The Range Rover 5.0 litre supercharged V8 provides the first factory Sport with 500 horse power. Not worth paying anyone for any after market power hikes now.
Externally, changes are not too great (if still worthwhile), which will help ensure the older car doesn’t instantly look dated. The real big draw is its new interior – this is a significant advance on the older model, and much more in keeping with the Range Rover ideal.
An interesting and more recent option is Active Cruise Control – this maintains a set distance from the car in front, braking and accelerating to a pre-defined speed limit as the car ahead changes speed. It’s totally automatic and very impressive… car buyers seem to like it, as it’s an interesting ‘gadget’.
Technically, there have been a few issues. These included front anti-roll bar niggles that required suspension bush replacement. Inevitably, there were also issues with the electronics and ECUs.
Most Range Rover Sports will never have been taken off-road, but it’s still worth looking for the ones that have. The only way to do this, and check for the resultant sump and suspension damage, is to put them in the air. This is where a dealer inspection becomes vital.
If you are considering buying a modified Range Rover car then you must ensure that it has been fully checked to ensure that it has correctly sized rims and tyres. Always ask if the original equipment wheels and tyres are available too. I have seen a number of wrong fitments which have been dangerously fouling suspension and brake components. Also poorly fitting body kits devalue the car. There are a number of outfits offering tuned and customized versions of the Range Rover. I do not propose to go into details here other than to say that special attention should be paid in a pre-purchase inspection to ensure that the safety and integrity of the vehicle is not compromised. Where possible always ask for the factory wheels and equipment in case a return to standard is required. Any modifications beyond simple cosmetics will potential invalidate the manufacturers warranty too.
The above is extracted from a 68 page luxury car market report that can be found on www.clivesutton.co.uk.