Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
It can ford rivers, trek up vast icy mountains, and dance over the barren deserts. "What is a Range Rover?" the Jeopardy contestant would ask. Indeed, they would be correct. Land Rovers have conquered the off-roading community before most of us were even born. But with this current 2015 Range Rover Sport, I don't find much need to talk about how it drives off-road or its capabilities over hills and ponds. There are a countless number of reviews out there that will tell you the same thing - it's very good. I'd rather share with you what it's like to live with one of these gargantuan SUVs for a week. The nuisances, the pleasures, and the attention. So what makes this particular model, the Autobiography Dynamic, so special? Certainly that "Autobiography" scripture on the back signifies something unique. A quick history lesson then shall we?
Land Rover's first Autobiography model was introduced at the London motor show in 1993. It allowed customers to customize and tailor their vehicle in whichever way they chose, and the demand for it went out the roof. Land Rover addressed these demands by offering cutting-edge technology (relative to that era obviously) such as fax machines, satellite navigation, televisions and even video game systems for their vehicles. Fast-forward twenty-one years later, and the Autobiography designation still stands for the paragon of luxury and exclusivity - point proven with our Range Rover Sport test vehicle. Land Rover also plans to offer this title to other models in their line-up, including the Evoque and the upcoming Defender. Rumour has it that this designation is actually worth more than a Ph.D.
The 2015 model of the Range Rover Sport is simply a huge reshuffling of standard options and packages, meaning it's structurally and dynamically the same as the 2014 model. A panoramic glass roof is now standard, the puddle lights now display a silhouette of the vehicle, and my personal favourite, the Stealth Package ($1,000) is now an option. Sounds like it's going to be painted in camouflage paint and equipped with sonar right? No, rather it pimps out the car with satin black components. Everything from the mirror caps, grills, script badges on the tailgate and front hood, and the side and fender vent meshes get the treatment. Even the 22-inch optional wheels ($2,400) get blacked out. Mixed with the Fuji white paint and a contrasting black roof... give me a second to find a tissue, I'm actually drooling while writing this piece. It's nothing short of a head-turner on the streets, and everybody will be looking, guaranteed. In my eyes, the Range Rover Sport looks ten times better than anything Porsche or Mercedes-Benz has to offer.
Hop inside and the jaw dropping continues. Red leather! Or what Land Rover calls Pimento. I actually prefer the tan-coloured leather from our Range Rover tester over this one, but the white exterior and red interior make for a 10/10 combination. I love the simplistic cabin and the high-up driving position. You feel like a king lodged on your throne as you overtake those hatchbacks you're "forced" to share the road with.
Like minivans, there are adjustable armrests next to the center console but the high shoulder-lines of the door panel give a nice ledge for you to rest your other arm. It's actually really comfortable - there's a reason why all Range owners do it. Next time you see a Range, peek into the driver's window and 9 times out of 10, they will have their arm rested on the door ledge. The Range Rover Sport also uses the same meaty gear shifter as the F-Type. It's no longer that rotary dial found in Jaguars and the full-size Range Rover. I don't mind this obelisk-sized design but it does take up more space in the center console.
A few things I don't like about the cabin: firstly, the disappointing cooler box. It's nice to brag to your friends that your car has a "fridge", but it's frustrating when the cooler box doesn't get very cold at all. A pro tip would be to fill the box with icepacks before setting sail. It's very good at insulating but not very good at chilling drinks. Next on the docket is the annoying "convenience" feature where you find yourself parking the car, hitting the park button, taking off your seatbelt, and having the vehicle suddenly turn off by itself so you don't have to push any buttons. Well this comes in handy in most cases, but let's say you're entering a pay-parking-lot and you can't reach the ticket box. So you press park and take off your seatbelt so you can reach it. Oops, the car turned off. To pedestrians, it just looked like you stalled a Range Rover. Lastly is the mechanical quality of my test vehicle. The driver's side soft-closing-door and blind spot monitoring system wasn't working, and neither was the parking assist function. Maintenance required.
The good news is that I stopped nit picking once I put my foot down on the throttle and experienced the bellowing thunder from the exhaust. Even the $4,550 Meridian Sound System could be faulty for all I care, all I need is that barbaric soundtrack - definitely not something you'd expect from a Range Rover. In my opinion, it sounds even better than your average V8-powered AMG. And there's no fake sound speaker piping either. The exhaust resonates like an encaged F-Type V8. It's not as lucid or as clear, you don't hear all of it but you know it's there. Definitely not as hush hush as the big daddy Range Rover though both actually use the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine.
That bulbous instrument caged under the front hood is good for 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. And thanks to a lightweight aluminum structure, the Range Rover Sport feels quick, sports car quick. It's deceptive because this SUV weighs 2,310 kilograms. That's the same weight as the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek... with a large cow hanging on the roof. Yet, it's still a thrilling V8 to drive, and the 8-speed ZF gearbox works well to make gear shifts seamless and unobtrusive. The massive Brembo brakes also do a good job in biting hard under the pedal, not requiring much pedal travel or push.
Everybody always asks about the fuel economy. "Does it suck on gas? Did you spend a fortune at the pump yesterday?" We drove 640 km over seven days and averaged 15.2 L/100km. That's hardly friendly to the environment but on the bright side, it could be so much worse. Land Rover's official numbers are 16.6 L/100km city, 12.3 L/100km highway, and 14.7 L/100km, meaning we are slightly over average. Makes sense because we were mainly driving on the city streets with stop and go traffic. Drum roll please - yeah so we spent $140 on premium 91 octane gas in one week.
The pragmatic and frugal customer would opt for the lighter, cheaper, and just-as-sporty 3.0-litre V6 engine, but the adrenaline-seeking customer (which is us) would seek the V8. Does it make sense? No. Since when does 510 horsepower ever make sense. For 2015, Range Rover is even offering a more powerful version dubbed the SVR with increased performance and 550 horsepower to match AMG and duel with the gods of speed. I'd also choose the Range Rover Sport over the larger full-size Range Rover. I don't see much that the latter has to offer that the Sport doesn't already have. Sport, V8, r̶e̶d̶, no, tan leather - I wouldn't have it any other way.
型号 Model: 2015 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic
顏色 Paint Type: Fuji White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $104,990
試車售價 Price as Tested: $117,500
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,923
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,850 / 2,220 / 1,780
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,310
引擎 Engine: 5.0L DOHC Supercharged V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,000 - 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 5,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double wishbone with air springs, Adaptive Damping, anti-roll bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link with air springs, Adaptive Damping, anti-roll bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 16.6 / 12.3 / 14.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 275/40R22