What’s the Story?
It’s 10 years since the first production Range Rover Sports reached the showrooms. Since then, the Sport has become one of Land Rover’s strongest sellers, and it has proved fundamental in redefining public perceptions of what the Land Rover marque is all about.
Before the spring of 2005, if you’d wanted a Range Rover that went as well on the road as it could go off it, you’d have had to visit a company like Overfinch. Starting in 1975 under the name Schuler, Overfinch had been making performance, handling and braking improvements to Range Rovers and had made it abundantly clear that such vehicles were viable. Trouble was, you had to be pretty wealthy to afford one, so relatively few people had the pleasure.
Our Favourite Bit?
Right from the start, however, the Range Rover Sport’s unique selling point was that it offered not only exciting road dynamics but also the full traditional off-road ability of a Land Rover. With the added prestige of the Range Rover name, it was an irresistible package. No surprise, then, that it became Land Rover’s best-selling product during 2006.
Land Rover knew it was entering uncharted territory with the Sport. This was a model that was deliberately designed to be fashionable – more so than the Range Rover itself, which has always had a more conservative appeal – and fashionable products have to be changed regularly to keep up with changing fashion. So the company was willing and ready to make substantial changes early in the vehicle’s sales life. To everyone’s surprise, though, these changes weren’t necessary. The Sport just went on selling with no sign of losing impetus, and so the alterations that were made were mostly evolutionary.
And the verdict?
Since then, the Sport has gone to further extremes with the arrival of the built-to-order SVR, with a 542bhp supercharged V8 engine, 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and a 162mph top speed. The SVR is only just becoming available, and will be beyond the reach of most Land Rover enthusiasts for many years because of its cost. But who are we to complain as long as the Russian oligarchs and Premier League footballers who buy them new take proper care of them, so we can enjoy them some time in the future?
The full story can be found in the September 2015 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.