Land Rover Jaguar have re-defined what constitutes an SUV in their 2010 model year Range Rover Sport. No longer are SUVs for the off road fraternity to go mud running on weekends, but the new Range Rover is a car for all seasons and all reasons.
Land Rover have redefined the luxury car market, delivering an extraordinarily refined vehicle that ranks amongst the fastest cars available, and in fact leaves a number of 'so called ' sports cars in its wake.
It's not everyday that motoring journalists get to legally explore the capability of performance vehicles, so it was with pleasure that an Australian contingent of scribes were invited to the disused Charterhall airfield in Scotland where we were able to confirm - and in some cases better - the company's claim of achieving zero to 100mph (161km/h) and back to a standing stop in the awesome time of just 15 seconds.
The Range Rover Sport is now equipped with a potent 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine that pumps out an astonishing 625Nm of torque,and 375kW of power to return a blistering 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, on to a limited top speed of 250km/h.
Underpinning the performance credentials of the Range Rover Sport, it recently clocked the Nurburgring circuit in 8 minutes and 49 seconds. A sub 9 minute time that many manufacturers would die for!
From a standing start the supercharged Range Rover Sport is seriously responsive, with the first 500Nm of torque available in just 500ms, or around a heartbeat. Power is strong, the dynamics better than average and steering and handling precise and direct.
The target speed is quickly reached, and as the right foot stabs the brake, the stopping power of the Range Rover Sport is equally impressive. Four wheel high performance ventilated discs quickly pull the 2.6 tonne vehicle up in a straight line with little fuss.
The Range Rover Sport is extensively equipped with standard steering wheel paddle shift, rear view camera, hybrid TV system, adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, automatic high beam assist, front park distance control, seat memory pack, premium leather interior upholstery and Harmon/Kardon audio logic 7 surround sound system with 13 speakers.
Along with its 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 engine, the RRS features permanent four wheel drive, adaptive dynamics, 20-inch alloy wheels, 6-speed adaptive automatic gearbox, push button start, Terrain Response and electric parking brake.
The 5.0-litre engine which is shared by Jaguar, but tuned especially for each particular vehicle, uses a sixth generation twin vortex supercharger, that feeds air through twin intercoolers which in turn are water cooled by their own cooling circuit. The high helix rotor design improves the supercharger thermodynamic efficiency by 16 percent and improves noise quality to the point where it is virtually inaudible. There is still a perceptible and welcome burble from the exhaust under acceleration.
Whether pounding down a freeway or roughing it in the dirt, the electronic cross linked air suspension with auto load levelling and multiple modes delivers the optimum in ride comfort.
The Range Rover Sport features adaptive dynamics, which work in conjunction with the existing active ride control system to enhance control of the vehicles ride and handling.
And be assured, the handling of the Sport is exemplary. Whether dashing around Scottish country lanes, sweeping bends or highway stretches, the poise and stability of the vehicle has to be experienced.
It is difficult to accept that the Range Rover Sport also has the capability to tackle extreme off road terrain, when it is ranked among the great luxury sport tourers. With the sporty attributes of smaller, lighter coupes, the Range Rover Sport is an extraordinary vehicle that in supercharged guise has a RRP of $159,900, a virtual gift in this exclusive performance car market.