Range Rover Sport drops weight, sharpens focus

Range Rover says the new Sport released at the New York Auto Show this week has been refocused to emphasise on-road agility, but not at the expense of Range Rover's trademark offroad ability.

The new Range Rover Sport is based on the same all-aluminium architecture as the Vogue, and is up to 420kg lighter depending on drivetrain.

It shares the Vogue's 2915mm wheelbase (which is 68mm longer than the old Sport) but is 145mm shorter and 55mm lower than the Vogue, so it cuts a sportier silhouette. Model for model, the Sport is 45kg lighter than the bigger Vogue.

The Sport will launch with four engines late in 2013, including a new 3.0-litre supercharged V6 good for 250kW and 450Nm.

The 375kW, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 carries over, as does the entry level oiler, a 3.0-litre turbodiesel now with 190kW and 600Nm. A more powerful version of the same engine brings an extra 25kW but is not confirmed for Australia.

Early in 2014 Land Rover will add a 4.4-litre V8 turbodiesel with 250kW and 700Nm, followed by a hybrid and an inline four-cylinder petrol.

The hybrid is confirmed for Australia, but not the I4.

"We're waiting to see performance figures," said Land Rover Australia's Tim Krieger.

For more on those two engines, see our other story, here Range Rover goes green

All bar the inline four-cylinder petrol engine are shared with the bigger Vogue, but Land Rover insists the Sport is 75 percent unique.

"We were keen to increase the differentiation between the Range Rover [Vogue] and the Sport", said design director Phil Simmons. "We've given the Sport shorter overhangs and a high beltline. It also has a faster windshield rake and lower roofline for a more sporting profile."

Dynamically the new Sport has a distinctly different character to the Vogue, says Sport programme chief engineer Stuart Frith.

"Our emphasis was on agility. We wanted to create the fastest, most agile and most responsive Land Rover ever."

To that end, the Sport gets a two-mode on-road driving program to go with the plethora of offroad programs in its Terrain Response system, now in its second generation. Dynamic Mode employs an active locking rear differential and modifies steering assistance, throttle response, damper rates and ESC response to deliver a more sporting drive.

The Sport also has a faster overall steering ratio which should address Wheels' criticism of the Vogue's slow-turn-in.

The Sport is the first Range Rover to feature a torque vectoring system, which uses the brakes to transfer drive to the outside wheels during cornering, said to reduce understeer — also an issue with the Vogue, as Wheels found out while conducting a comparo for the magazine's May issue.

Range Rover also unveiled a seven-seat configuration for the Range Rover Sport, though it preferred calling it "5+2".

This third row of seating will be an option on Sport, but not on Vogue. The reason, apparently, is that Vogue owners are more likely to haver other cars for this purpose, whereas Sport owners are not.

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