Driven - March 2016

Smug life: Driving the Range Rover Sport

Our week with Range Rover Sport SDV6 SE

If you haven’t yet noticed, many Range Rover owners bear a similar facial expression when they’re in their cars. It’s a difficult look to describe. Is it one that says “I’m better than you?” or “I have more money than you?” Who knows, but it’s definitely an expression that gives off an air of superiority. Why is this the case? Why does almost every Range Rover driver don this mug? We had a recent opportunity to find out when Land Rover South Africa scheduled us to drive the SDV6 variant of the Range Rover Sport.

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The car in question was the SE model, which is slightly less fancier than the HSE in terms of aesthetics and specifications. Despite this, the size of the car still commands a great deal of presence whether it’s parked in a car park or driving on the road. The vehicle we had in our possession also had the air suspension which was a short man’s dream because you can add more centimetres to the ride height, allowing you to peer into the car stopped next to you at the traffic lights and proof read the drivers text message.

The most distinct feature about the Range Rover Sport is how the car drives like a hot knife in butter. It simply glides along whatever road surface it is faced with, accompanied by the slightly audible sound of the diesel V6 engine which produces 215kW.  The silence in the cabin is business class like and like business class, the car allows you to think long and hard about how much more better your driving experience is compared to the hatchback driving alongside you. What adds to this is the seating position created by the armrest that allows for maximum comfort behind the wheel. A simple yet luxurious dashboard with a touch screen infotainment is your interior view.

This is where we feel the facial expression comes from. The car makes you and others feel very aware of the fact that you’re driving over a million rand worth of metal, rubber and leather. They say absolute power corrupts and it was safe to say that we had been corrupted during our week long test drive. Nearing the end of the week, we could feel that our noses were positioned more upwards and our overall demeanour had changed. “How dare that driver think he can cut us off?” “Can he not see our RANGE ROVER coming?” are but a few of the thoughts that featured in our minds. Any opportunity to use the 600Nm was not wasted.

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To say that the Range Rover Sport makes the driver feel good about himself is an understatement. Interestingly this is not due to the car being the absolute best in its segment. Of course it is highly capable but the competition’s products are very capable too. This car has two major things going for it, pedigree and class. For decades the words “Range Rover” have been associated with a specific lifestyle and elegance. Even though the word “Sport” alludes to a racing nature, the V6 diesel is more about sophistication and comfort than anything else. This is why the Range Rover Sport can be seen in many business parks around the world, it’s as much a statement than it is a car.

It’s easy to get caught up in the smug life of driving a Range Rover in the city. If it weren’t for the Land Rover Experience that we attended in the past, we would think that all the suspension settings were there for the drivers ego, which is really not the case. The various on and off road features in the Sport are all functional. Having driven the Range Rover Sport off-road, one really sees what a serious case of multiple personality syndrome the car has. On the one end, it’s wearing a business suit and condescending over other cars in traffic. On the other end, it’s wearing a Khaki shirt and climbing various ascents and descents.

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Considering all of this, assuming the drivers of most Range Rover Sport’s know this, one can understand why the expression is there. It is a fact that the Range Rover is a brilliant car in its segment. It offers space, luxury and performance packaged in a way that is very memorable indeed. It is the gentlemen’s choice in its class.

Price:

R 1,227,400