Blistering performance in a renowned Brit
While some say the end of the gas-guzzling era is nigh, it’s not going to be this week. Not while I’ve got the UK’s indulgent 510-horsepower warrior under my command.
The 2017 Range Rover continues to represent the pinnacle of luxurious off-road capability, however, in its ‘Sport’ iteration, outstanding on-road performance is added to the list of attributes embedded in the hedonistic Brit.
A little tech to set the stage.
The Autobiography edition tops the Range Rover lineup and can be equipped with a 6-cylinder diesel engine, or the more aggressive 5.0 litre supercharged gas-gulping V8 breathing fire beneath the bonnet of this week’s tester. In addition to massive horsepower, the forced-air mill spins 375 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The output is directed to all four wheels through Range Rover’s sophisticated four-wheel-drive Terrain Response technology, which adapts to snow, sand, rock-crawl, or what have you to ensure the highest levels of traction and control are underfoot.
Land Rover literature claims that the supercharged Sport – despite its curb-crushing weight of 2,306 kg – can sprint from NIL to 100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds, and based on my unscientific testing I have no reason to doubt the claim; this truck is quick, startlingly quick.
Fuel-economy figures provided by Land Rover shake-out as follows: city 18.3L/100km and highway 9.8L/100km. These are fair figures, and achievable with a restrained lust for the V8’s pulse-quickening growl.
Sliding one’s butt into the driver’s seat of the Sport Autobiography swaddles it in perforated Oxford leather.
Not sure what difference the “Oxford” leather makes, but the front seats are divine perches capable of both massaging and chilling the body at the same time. Or, to the alternative, heating and massaging the body concurrently.
Looking around the cabin of my tester I’m struck by a lack of colour and contrast, but this ride is trimmed in all things black. Not my choice in décor. While it may lack visual pizazz, the cabin is replete with everything that defines it as a top-shelf premium; be it safety-related, comfort-related, or entertainment-related.
Pushing the Start button brings the V8 to life with a staccato growl loud enough to impart arrogance only exceeded south of the border. To be honest, I hated starting the vehicle for this reason. It’s so unnecessary, especially in a quiet hood where eyebrows raise at intrusions far less sinister.
Of course, the car-guy in me loves to hear the guttural growl of a finely-balanced V8 power plant, so I struggle. Once underway, the Range Rover’s sound track can be more freely appreciated while it effortlessly propels the rig via its optional 22-inch black wheels.
Throttle mapping and down-shifting could in my view be unwound somewhat to improve drive-ability. Rolling into the throttle is often met with a rapid downshift and far more V8 hostility than intended. A more relaxed power delivery would, for me, be a welcomed change.
Another change I’d welcome would be the addition of an analogue rotary scroll knob to work through audio selections and other programming content accessed through the vehicle’s 10.2-inch touchscreen.
I’ve got to give credit though where it’s due, and that would apply to the rotary knobs to control climate settings, which perform double-duty by also controlling settings for the heated/ventilated seats.
Driving the Sport Autobiography is truly enjoyable, and in some anti-social manner empowering. Knowing that the posh rig is as eminently capable on the track as it is off-road engenders the feeling that one can overcome any obstacle, nary breaking a sweat or sensing discomfort.
Of course, reconciling the prodigious consumption of premium fuel may lead to feelings of financial and ecological discomfort. Nonetheless, there’s something very regal and alluring about time spent in jolly ole England, even if it’s limited to the leather-lined environs of the Royal’s ride of choice.
There’s little that can touch a Range Rover when it comes to comfort, class, and capability, and this week’s tester makes that clear. In fact, it takes those ideals to the extreme with its combination of blistering performance and hedonistic luxury.
Listing the impressive array of technology and creature comforts included in the Autobiography version of the Range Rover Sport would keep me in front of this keyboard ‘til sunup. Suffice to say, if it exists in the automotive kingdom, it’s likely aboard.
Despite my criticisms, I was truly sad to see the Sport return to its handler. I already miss the growl and punch of her supercharged V8, not to mention the decadence of daily massages while driving to the office and back. I best not mention it to my physio.
2017 Range Rover Sport Autobiography
Price as tested: $112,222
Configuration: front engine, 4WD
Engine/transmission: 5.0L supercharged V8 / 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 510 hp / 375 lb-ft
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km): city 18.3, highway 9.8
Warranty (basic): 4 years / 80,000 km
Competitors: Audi Q7, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne
Land Rover Canada