Land Rover Sport Packs Serious Performance in a SUV
by Keith Burton
Building on Britain’s distinguished history of sporting cars and surefooted off-roaders, the Range Rover Sport is the SUV engineered for anyone serious about expeditious driving. Our tester was the supercharged version of the Range Rover Sport, and we have to recommend this engine with this premium version.
A naturally aspirated version with 300 horsepower is available, but the 390 horsepower supercharged version is just too much fun not to have.
Along with the engine, the Range Rover’s Dynamic Response suspension system, which is standard on the Supercharged edition is terrific.
Here’s a large, heavy SUV that has flat cornering, tight body control, and sharp steering response. Powerful Brembo front disc brakes fill out the performance end , the special brakes are included in the Dynamic Response Package, and provide amazing stopping power and a nice feel to the foot.
Land Rover’s exclusive Terrain Response system provides the Range Rover Sport with remarkable off-road capability. Add a long list of premium cabin features and the result is an SUV with a major accent on sport.
Improvements for the 2008 model year include:
- New power-folding exterior mirrors.
- An eight-way power seat in the front-passenger position.
- A new, power tilt and telescope steering wheel adjuster.
- A tray with a rubber mat bottom surface located in front of the navigation screen.
- New finish for areas of the center stack, console, and glove box release.
- Leather door inserts are improved on the HSE.
On the Supercharged version, interior trim is now straight-grained walnut. Dark Zebrano trim is a no-cost option.
HSE models equipped with the optional Luxury package also have Straight-Grained Walnut trim with Dark Zebrano available as a free alternative.
Land Rover’s Integrated Body-frame construction marries a hydroformed-steel ladder frame to a highly rigid monocoque body.
The benefits are exemplary collision performance, efficient packaging, the stiff platform needed for superior handling and maneuverability, and a composed cabin environment. Miniature dampers between the frame and body at mounting points and a tuned mass damper located at each corner of the vehicle help block the transmission of noise, vibration, and road harshness into the passenger cabin.
The Range Rover Sport uses high-tensile-strength boron steel to reinforce the roof pillars, magnesium in the front crumple zone, and aluminum for the hood.
A single-piece tailgate with a separate hinged glass not only provides convenient access to the cargo hold, it also trims aerodynamic drag. Exterior steel panels are zinc coated on both sides for corrosion protection. Static glazing is bonded in place to contribute to the body’s structural rigidity.
Common traits shared by the Supercharged and naturally aspirated V8s that power the Range Rover Sports are aluminum block-and-head construction, chain-driven double overhead camshafts, and four-valve combustion chambers.
The 4.4-liter 32-valve naturally aspirated V8 features electronically-controlled infinitely-variable intake and exhaust timing and electronic throttle actuation. Peak outputs are 300 bhp at 5,500 rpm and 315 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The 4.2-liter 32-valve supercharged and intercooled V8 uses thicker-walled cylinder liners for extra block rigidity, necessitating a slightly smaller bore dimension. A belt-driven Eaton supercharger delivers a maximum 11.6-psi of boost pressure.
Twin air-to-coolant heat exchangers cool the pressurized intake charge en route to the cylinders. The Supercharged V8 delivers a hearty 390 bhp at 5,750 rpm and 410 lb.-ft. of torque at a useful 3,500 rpm.
The Range Rover Sport uses a ZF electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission that offers three modes – automatic, sport, and CommandShift (manual). When the console-mounted lever is moved to its CommandShift gate, gear changes can be selected manually.
This is handy to match engine and road speeds during aggressive braking; a downshift is also beneficial to help power smartly out of a bend. Selecting the Sport mode provides a more responsive automatic shift program which allows the engine to rev high before an upshift. Downshifts are also more aggressive.
The Range Rover Sport’s two-speed transfer case features an electronically controlled, infinitely variable locking center differential that automatically distributes the available torque to both drive axles.
Shifting between low and high ranges is possible without stopping. A fully locked mode is available for severe off-road use. An electronically actuated infinitely variable rear differential lock can be selected from the optional equipment list.
The Range Rover Sport’s performs on the road like an expensive sport sedan. This is remarkable considering its off road capabilities. Convincing an SUV to behave well both at higher speeds on paved roadways and while traversing challenging off-road terrain is no mean feat. The key components to do all this are:
An independent double-wishbone suspension system at each corner
High-capacity monotube dampers for consistent control of wheel and body motion
Electronically regulated air springs that provide automatic load leveling and three selectable ride heights—access (for entry), standard, and off-road; cross linking the air springs makes the best use of the long travel suspension system
Land Rover’s Dynamic Response system combined with Brembo® front brakes is standard on the Supercharged model and available on the HSE. Active anti-roll bars balance handling and manage body roll on-road. Relaxing the bars during off-road excursions provides the extra wheel articulation needed to maintain a secure footing
Speed-sensitive, variable-ratio ZF power rack-and-pinion steering for excellent feedback and optimum directional control
Cast aluminum-alloy wheels for low unsprung weight and excellent dispersal of braking heat
Wide, low-profile radial tires compounded for optimum performance both on- and off-road; the Range Rover Sport HSE is fitted with 255/50R-19 tires while the Supercharged edition is fitted with 275/40R-20 tires.
To match stopping power with acceleration and speed, four-piston front brake calipers supplied by Brembo are standard on the Supercharged edition and optional (in the Dynamic Response Package) in the HSE. The parking brake is electronically applied by simply pulling a small console lever.
Bosch-supplied electronic controls deliver a full suite of stability and traction benefits including emergency brake assist (EBA) for maximum retardation when needed to help avoid an accident; ABS to curtail wheel lock during aggressive braking as well on slippery off-road terrain; dynamic stability control (DSC) to maintain guidance authority during extreme maneuvers; active roll mitigation (ARM) to slow the vehicle in a tight bend when the vehicle senses overly aggressive driving; electronic brake force distribution (EBD) to make balanced use of the stopping traction available at all four wheels regardless of how the vehicle is loaded; four-wheel electronic traction control (4ETC); and hill descent control (HDC) to creep controllably down steep grades.
The Range Rover Sport is no slouch off-road, it is one of the best out there if you can afford the potential damage to this premium SUV. The Range Rover’s
Terrain Response System that takes the chore out of programming multiple systems for optimum performance. Setting a console knob in one of five available positions adjusts throttle response, optimizes the transmission’s gear changes, positions the air suspension at the appropriate ride height, and sets the center and rear differentials (when so equipped) in a mode right for the terrain. DSC, 4ETC, ABS, and HDC functions are also altered by each Terrain Response setting.
The five available modes are general, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl.
COMFORT, CONVENIENCE, INFOTAINMENT
An extensive array of premium features is provided to insure that long hours behind the wheel of Land Rover’s sport tourer are wholly satisfying to the most demanding driver. Both front bucket seats are eight-way power adjustable and ergonomically designed for lasting comfort. Firm bolsters and high-grip seating surfaces are provided to support occupants during the inevitable aggressive driving stints. The cockpit array consists of a highly legible instrument cluster and a broad center stack rising out of a high console to locate all controls within easy reach.
The automatic climate control system provides independent settings for two distinct zones. Heated front and rear seats are standard in the Supercharged edition and optional in the HSE. A power sunroof is standard in both models.
The programmable key fob commands the air suspension to facilitate easy entry. Adaptive cruise control that senses and adjusts to traffic in the lane ahead is available in the Supercharged model. A personal telephone integration system that uses Bluetooth technology to accommodate the owner’s mobile phone in a console cradle is standard in both models. A Park Distance Control system that senses objects both in the driver’s blind spots is standard.
Acknowledging that superb audio entertainment is an essential, not a luxury, both Range Rover Sport models are fitted with a harman/kardon LOGIC7 550-watt sound system armed with a 12-channel amplifier playing through 14 speakers.
AM/FM stereo, CD via a six-disc in-dash changer, and auxiliary-input (MP3) source material are efficiently orchestrated into a full surround-sound audio experience. Steering wheel controls command volume, station and CD track selection. SIRIUS digital audio reception is standard in the Supercharged edition and optional in HSE (subscription is not included). A rear-seat entertainment package consisting of two front headrest displays, a six-disc DVD changer, a remote control device and a touchscreen interface is an available option.
A DVD-based GPS navigation system with multiple state-of-the-art features is included to assure that every Range Rover Sport adventure has a successful ending. Commands can be entered either by touching the seven-inch LCD screen or by voice.
The 4×4 Information screen presents the current settings of the Terrain Response™ system, the orientation and vertical position of the front wheels, the suspension setting, gear selected and transfer case range. Navigation is provided during both on- and off-road excursions.
The Range Rover Sport HSE is available in eight exterior colors. Six colors are offered for the Range Rover Sport Supercharged. Three seat and two carpet colors are available in several attractive combinations.
2008 RANGE ROVER SPORT FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS
Integrated Body-Frame with hydroformed members and advanced high-strength steels, including boron steel in the A- and B- pillars
Outer-body panels are double-sided zinc-coated steel and aluminum alloy
90-degree V8. Aluminum-alloy cylinder heads and block
Valvetrain – Chain-driven double-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder. Variable Camshaft Phasing (VCP)
4.4-liter, alloy V8 develops 300 bhp at 5,500 rpm and 315 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm
4.2-liter, alloy V8 develops 390 bhp at 5,750 rpm and 410 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm
ZF HP26 six-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission. Locking torque converter. Normal, Sport and Manual (CommandShift™) shift modes
Two-speed electronic transfer gearbox. Shift-on-the-move capability. Electronically controlled, infinitely variable locking center differential
Permanent four-wheel drive with four-wheel Electronic Traction Control (4ETC)
Terrain Response™ system
SAFETY & SECURITY
Rigid steel safety-cage construction
Command driving position for optimal visibility
Front crumple zones. Lower secondary load-path chassis construction
Side-door impact beams in the front and rear doors
Collapsible steering column
Collision-activated inertia switch (unlocks doors, turns off fuel pump, turns on hazard lights)
Static glass is bonded for additional structural rigidity
Latest generation Bosch four-channel, all-terrain anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Four-piston Brembo® front brakes on Supercharged model
Electronically set parking brake using drum incorporated into rear rotor
Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) for extra boost in an emergency stop
Active Roll Mitigation (ARM) predicts unbalanced weight and stabilizes vehicle
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to maintain directional control
Hill Descent Control (HDC) for slow, sure movement down steep inclines
Terrain Response™ matches vehicle dynamic systems to terrain
Four-wheel Electronic Traction control (4ETC)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Six-airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) driver and dual threshold front-passenger airbags, side thorax for front seating positions, and head-protection side-curtain airbags for front and rear outboard seating positions. Front passenger seat occupant-detection system.
Automatic protection sequence takes place in the event of a crash
Shutdown of engine and fuel system
Activates hazard warning system and all interior lights
Doors automatically unlock
LATCH (Lower Anchor and Tether for Children) system for child seat attachment
Child seat tether anchors
Bi-Xenon automatic headlights with power washers
Automatic-dimming inside rearview mirror
Dual power-fold, heated exterior mirrors. Programmable, automatic dipping of passenger-side mirror in Reverse
Front and rear fog lights
Electric rear-window defroster
LED center high-mount stoplight
Keyless entry. Central locking system
Child locks for rear doors and power windows
Deep-tinted glass (aft of B-pillar), including sunroof
Front and rear three-point safety belts and head restraints for all five occupants
Pre-tensioning front safety belts
Height-adjustable safety belt anchors for front seats and adjustable head restraints for all outboard seating positions
AUDIO & NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT
Premium 550-watt harman/kardon® LOGIC7™ digital surround-sound AM/FM-stereo audio system with six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 changer and 14 speakers
Auxiliary jack for MP3 player or other music device
Dual, glass-mounted diversity antenna system
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
Available satellite digital audio receiver system (SDARS) offering SIRIUS satellite radio
DVD-based GPS navigation with off-road interface, and coordinate settings
Voice recognition for navigation and audio controls
Touch screen seven-inch LCD dash mounted screen
The screen also has a 4×4 interface showing the settings of the Terrain ResponseÔ system including gear, range and front wheel position
Available DVD-based Rear Seat Entertainment package with two integrated front headrest displays, six-disc DVD changer, touchscreen interface, remote control and wired headphones
COMFORT & CONVENIENCE
Seating capacity: five
Reclining, ergonomically designed, eight-way power adjustable driver- and front-passenger seat. Dual folding front armrests
Three-driver memory for driver’s seat, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and powerfold exterior mirrors
Leather-wrapped power steering wheel with multifunction controls
Electronic cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls
Full instrumentation, including tachometer and analog clock. Comprehensive message center and trip computer. 4×4 Driver Information Center
Automatic, variable-speed, rain-sensing windshield wipers
Dual-zone automatic, independent climate control system with pollen filter
Seats have high bolsters for lateral support and maximum grip
Leather seat facings and trim details
Front and rear Park Distance Control (PDC)
One-touch “open/close” power sunroof. Anti-trap function
Power windows with back-lit controls and one-touch feature on both front windows. Anti-trap function
“Time out” feature (retained accessory power) for power windows and sunroof
Central locking of side doors and rear tailgate. Remote activated
HomeLink® system for garage doors and security gates
Center-console cubby box, front seatback storage pockets, front-door map pockets
Footwell lights and puddle lights
Rear liftgate with hatch-style rear window
Split 65:35 folding rear seat
Retractable and removable rear loadspace cover
Color, touch-screen, DVD-based off-road-enhanced GPS navigation system
Full instrumentation, including tachometer and analog clock, comprehensive message center and trip computer. 4×4 Driver Information Center