Range Rover Sport Supercharged Review

The off-road king now packs on-road bite.

The off-road king now packs on-road bite.

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The new Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged falls squarely into that category.

If the power – 375kW, with 625Nm of torque – doesn’t get tree huggers upset, surely the official combined fuel consumption of 14.9L/100km will.

There are very few more pleasurable ways to turn petrol into carbon dioxide than inside this new supercharged Jag/LR engine.

The MY2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged gets a new lease on life courtesy of a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine co-produced with Jaguar. The new 5.0-litre unit is good for 375kW and 625Nm of torque, which equates to a 0-100km/h dash of 6.2 seconds. It’s pretty impressive when you consider the Sport Supercharged’s portly 2.6-tonne mass.

Although the power and torque output has gone up from 287kW and 550Nm respectively, so has the price. The Sport Supercharged now retails for $159,600, some $15,000 more than its predecessor.

It’s not all bad news, though. The exterior has received a makeover that includes new LED circular DRLs (Daytime Running Lamp), in addition to new wheels, grille and front bumper. The rear also gets a retouch with new tail lights and more defined exhausts.

The bulk of changes occur in the drivetrain and interior. The interior has become a thing of beauty with a great deal of buttons disappearing and becoming condensed to minimise fuss and time wasted looking for functions such as heating/cooling and audio.

A revised steering wheel includes buttons that sit flush with the wheel and offer further functionality in the form two four way switches with menu traversing abilities. In addition to the revised steering wheel, a high-resolution screen has been fitted between the speedometer and tachometer to relay the car’s vital functions.

Our test car was fitted with several nifty options – some of which I would have thought would make the standard fitment list. The $2470 cold climate pack includes a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, heated washer jets and a heated windscreen (uses an in-glass demister).

The other options included a $3170 electric sunroof, $1060 rear electronic differential, $1800 metallic paint, $5290 adaptive cruise control with emergency brake function, $1000 20-inch diamond turned alloy wheel upgrade and a $4100 kid minder system (also known as the rear entertainment pack).

The added options pushed our test car’s retail value up to a hefty $178,790.

The interior is a great place to be with extremely comfortable seats and plenty of leg and head room for both rows of passengers. Sometimes the boot sits too high when opened on a hill. Land Rover has countered the problem with remote suspension adjustment via the key, allowing the car to lower to access height to help close the boot.

An excellent harman/kardon sound system with 13-speakers and an active sub-woofer complement the in-car technology, which includes full iPod connectivity, hard disk navigation and hybrid television system.

Driving the Sport Supercharged is surprisingly easy. The ‘command driving position’ – as Land Rover calls it – offers supreme visibility of the road in all directions and leaves the driver feeling like they are at the helm of a car, opposed to a 2.6-tonne SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle).

The new six-speed ZF Sachs 6HP28 gearbox works in bliss with the supercharged V8. Throttle response is instant in any gear and allows the Range Rover Sport Supercharged to zip in and out of city traffic like a Toyota Yaris on steroids. The variable steering makes it surprisingly agile at low speeds, in addition to making parking a cinch.

It’s when you head out of the city and through a few bends that you realise how incredible the Sport Supercharged is behind the wheel. Keeping in mind that the Sport Supercharged weights 2.6-tonnes, it beggars belief that it handles like a nimble sports car.

If you bury the throttle on the exit of a corner, the Sport Supercharged knuckles down and gracefully exits the corner with minimal body roll and fuss.

The dynamic handling is courtesy of Land Rover’s new 'Dynamic Program'. It sits as the sixth switch on the Terrain Response system and instantly adjusts throttle response, steering response, suspension dampening and the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).

All the extra power is reigned in courtesy of 360mm front and 354mm rear Brembo brakes. The massive stoppers fit snugly in the 20-inch alloy wheels and come standard on the Sport Supercharged variant.

There’s no denying the impressive handling and acceleration characteristics of the Sport Supercharged. In comparison to its competitors, the Sport Supercharged out-values its competition, but falls when it comes to straight line performance.

Although the 6.2-litre V8 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG out-accelerates the Sport Supercharged (5.0-seconds vs 6.2-seconds), it weights around 400kg less and consumes a wallet lightening 16.5L/100km on the combined cycle. It also costs around $20,000 more and is next to useless off-road in comparison to the Sport Supercharged.

The only other option is the BMW X5 M. While it also costs around $20,000 more, it does the 0-100km/h dash in a mind-boggling 4.7-seconds and uses just 13.9L/100km. It’s also the best handling SUV of the bunch, but wouldn’t be seen dead off anything other than tarmac.

In comparison to the competition, the Sport Supercharged doesn’t appear to be a very appealing proposition. It’s not until you head off-road that the Sport Supercharged begins making sense.

While the rest of its competition only does business on sealed roads, the Sport Supercharged is just as happy playing in the mud as it is belting up a mountain at full steam.

The vast artillery of off-road equipment starts with an advanced Terrain Response system that allows the driver to select an off-road mode by a rotary switch. The modes each vary the DSC and the way the four wheel drive system interacts with the terrain.

Permanent four wheel drive, in addition to front, centre and optional rear differential locks make it the leader in this field. A low-range gearbox is also standard across the range to help in low-speed off-road situations.

The height adjustable suspension allows the Sport Supercharge to grow to allow 227mm of ground clearance, some 55mm more than its standard ride height. The heightened ride height, in addition to 35 and 29 degree approach and departure angles make the Sport Supercharged a worthy contender off-road.

While the 20-inch wheels and sports rubber weren’t perfect for off-roading, the car was still remarkably capable in mud and climbing rutted hills. Serious off-roading would require off-road tyres with deeper ruts and suitable side profile.

The downside to the supercharged V8 off-road is the hair trigger throttle response. A slightly exorbitant stab of the throttle will see torque surge to the wheels. Careful feathering of the throttle helps ease the explosiveness of power delivery.

Wading depth is rated at an impressive 700mm at its highest ride height. That’s enough to see water sit just underneath the wheel arches.

When compared to its competition, $159,600 is a fairly good price to pay for a car with enough firepower to make flight, let alone one that could arguably go anywhere a Toyota Landcruiser could.

It was two years ago that I crossed Australia in a fleet of Land Rovers and that’s proof enough to me that while the Sport Supercharged isn’t as fast as its competition in a straight line, it offers the best versatility, with an exciting design and invigorating performance.

The best part is shaming wannabe F1 drivers from the traffic lights in a car that weights as much as a two small cars.

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged is the best value performance SUV on the market. If I was tasked with living the life of somebody with that much cash to spare, I’d have one in a heartbeat. It’s hard to pass up that stellar V8 exhaust note.

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*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.

‘there are very few more pleasurable ways to turn petrol into carbon dioxide than inside this new supercharged Jag/LR engine