For a manufacturer whose ownership has changed more times than Katie Price’s husbands, Land Rover has always maintained a well respected and desirable range of products. In particular, the expansion of the Range Rover brand into small(er) and cheap(er) models has met success amongst the mainstream market, where buyers eager for a slice of the premium image the brand cultivates have lapped up the Sport and recently the Evoque in ever increasing numbers.
Although facelifted in 2009, the launch of the Evoque and fourth generation full size Range Rover had left the Sport looking abit lacklustre in terms of both aesthetics and weight, but at the New York Auto Show this month the new Range Rover Sport was launched and looks to be a big improvement on the previous model, despite the charms it had.
Again I will be unlikely to drive the car in the near future, but as of yet nobody outside of Land Rover has driven it so I guess I cannot complain too much. As usual I suspect it will handle well for a vehicle its size (especially considering the fact it is 400Ibs lighter than its predecessor), inside the interior looks and probably feels very premium although JLR’s cabin technology is not as advanced as that of the Germans’ (or arguably the Americans’). Engines will remain more or less unchanged, yet the decreased weight means much improved mpg figures and therefore cheaper tax for private and company buyers alike. Interestingly a third row of seats has been added, which while probably not any good for adults on journeys longer than a few miles, will open up a whole new market sector (for better or worse).
The main bugbear with all Land Rover products tends to be reliability, and ultimately this is the hardest to assess for any reviewer, especially one who does not stand a hope in hell at getting behind the wheel! It would be unfair not to mention the vast improvement that has been made in that last decade or so in terms of reliability, but some areas of their cars still need to be focused on.
Some will write the Range Rover Sport off as a chav wagon, and doubtless there will be some people of questionable taste who snap up the car, but to be honest they will be getting a great car which meets all the requirements of family life and does so with prestige and class.