Edgier, sleeker, and faster, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the sporting complement to the off-road specialist (with on-road credentials) found in the new Range Rover.
Unveiled this evening just before the 2013 New York Auto Show, the 2014 Range Rover Sport improves upon the previous model's formula with quicker acceleration, lighter weight, and greater agility.
How much lighter is the new Range Rover Sport? Try 800 pounds lighter. That's like kicking four 200-pound six-footers out of the super-SUV--without having to leave your friends on the roadside.
Four variations of the 2014 Range Rover Sport will be offered in the U.S.: the base SE, with a 3.0-liter supercharged 340-horsepower V-6; the HSE with the same engine but upgraded features; the Range Rover Sport Supercharged, with a 510-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 (naturally); and the Range Rover Sport Autobiography, with the same engine as the Supercharged model, but again, a better set of equipment.
All 2014 Range Rover Sport models are equipped with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Two transfer cases are available: one with a single-speed Torsen limited-slip differential; a second with two-speed locking differentials and low range. The second is the more off-road-suited choice.
Stop/start is also standard on all Range Rover Sport models, as is the updated Terrain Response 2 system, which automatically adjusts to suit the terrain or road conditions.
Another new aspect to the Range Rover Sport range is 5+2 seating, bringing an optional third-row seating element for "occasional use". That should probably be read as "for kids, and for short periods only," but it does expand the utility of the Sport for those on the fence between it and the larger standard Range Rover.
So, aside from being 800 pounds lighter and offering two different supercharged engines, what does the 2014 Range Rover Sport bring to the performance table?
It's fairly compact, though longer than its predecessor by 2.5 inches. At 191 inches, it's still just over four inches shorter than the 2014 Cadillac CTS, however.
It's also 2.17 inches lower than the standard Range Rover, and 100 pounds lighter. Curb weight for the V-6 models is listed at 4,727 pounds, while the V-8s check in at 5,093 pounds.
The new lower weight and punchy engine options offer good-to-great acceleration for an SUV. The base 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 gets to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than the previous normally aspirated V-8 model. The 510-horsepower supercharged V-8 variants sprint to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, nearly a full second quicker than the previous supercharged V-8 models--and that's almost all down to weight reduction.
Enhancing the on-road qualities of the Range Rover Sport, a suite of electronic systems combine to improve handling and response.
Electric power-assisted steering with a variable ratio and speed-sensitive assistance yields steering forces deemed appropriate for the vehicle's speed; the Dynamic Mode function of the Terrain Response 2 system enhances throttle and transmission response, steering assist, suspension damper settings, and traction/stability control for sporty driving; a Dynamic Active Rear Locking Differential system aids traction on acceleration, and locks up 70 ms quicker than the previous model; and Torque Vectoring by Braking simulates the benefits of a torque-vectoring differential, reducing understeer and improving cornering.