Thursday, February 16, 2012

Range Rover Sport: King of the road

If your weekday life consists of boardroom meetings hammering out mega-buck deals and the weekends are spent at your own private game farm in the Waterberg, the chances are your wheels of choice in that triple garage at your golf estate will be a Range Rover Sport.

Range Rover Sport

Since its launch in 2005 it has quickly ingrained itself as a favourite with the movers and shakers in South Africa whose pockets are lined with crisp, new R200 notes.

Why? Well not only does it draw heavily on the Land Rover pedigree for off-road adventure but also because of its sports-car like performance, handling and long list of luxury features.

No wonder its the wheels of choice for international superstars such as David "Golden Balls" Beckham, Steven Gerrard and royalty across the globe.

What is it?

The Range Rover Sport Autobiography is now the flagship for this very popular range and incorporates a number of new external and interior design elements for the 2012 version.

The name "Autobiography" - which, one must admit, is a bit unusual - is based on the opportunity it affords customers to put their own individual stamp on the vehicle when it comes to interior combinations.

A glance at its rivals in the up-market segment of SUVs shows it is right up there with the kings of the jungle.

How does it look?

Like the real deal, that's how. In the cabin you have the choice of five interior themes with a sportiness suggested by the names with which they have been christened - Estoril, Hockenheim, Le Mans, Monaco and Monza.

No fake wood panelling here; it's all genuine and tastefully used.

Its exterior stance is rather brutish and while the angles may have been rounded somewhat, it's still an imposing look. There's a new front grill and side vent while the 20-inch wheels and chrome, square tailpipes seal the deal.

Interiors of Range Rover Sport
What's it like to drive?

Press that stop/start button and the deep baritone growl making its way from the 5.0-litre supercharged engine, to those rear tailpipes, drowns out any Cape Town radio station.

Go hard with your right foot and the 2.5 tons of the RR Sport lurch forward like a startled rhino. Keep your foot flat, so the metal is touching the plush carpets, and you'll get a 0-100km/h time just over six seconds - and that's when things start to get interesting!

Once its built up a head of steam the vehicle is actually quicker between 100km/h and 160km/h than a BMW M3!

Take it off road - as we did on the 4x4 course at the Simonsig wine estate - and the vehicle channels every one of those 375kW to a different use while scrambling over boulders, through streams and down steep inclines.

Back on tar it handles surprisingly well. Through the bends you can push hard and at the slightest hint of trouble the roll stability control system kicks in by braking individual wheels if the possibility of a rollover is detected.

Any special features?

Too many to mention but what may be of interest is the permanent four-wheel drive system while the Terraine Response System offers five settings that adjust throttle response, gear changes, ride height and the like.

A dual view touch-screen is available for the first time, allowing the driver to keep an eye on the navigation system, while the passenger can enjoy a DVD. Let's not forget the ultimate Harmon Kardon Logic audio system which churns out an eye-watering 825W through 17 speakers.

Lastly, the tailgate is now powered by the push of a button while rear-seat passengers can enjoy WhiteFire wireless technology which incorporates cordless headphones.

Should you buy one?

If you have a cool R1-million-odd, to spare, why the hell not! You'll be the envy of all as you rock up at the Inanda Club on a Sunday morning for brunch.

The Specs:

Engine: 4999cc V8 Supercharged
Power: 375kW at 6000-6500rpm
Torque: 625Nm at 2500 to 5500rpm
0-100km/h: 6.2 seconds
Top speed: 225km/h
Fuel consumption: 14.9/100km (claimed combined)
CO2: 348g/km
Price: R1159300

We like:

Equally at home burning up the tar or getting dirty off road.

We don't like:

Around town, driving will be mighty expensive. Expect it to guzzle more than 20 l/100km.

Source: Times Live

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