Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Strong performance from all engines
  • Choice of petrol or diesel, plus plug-in hybrid
  • Excellent off-road ability

The Range Rover Sport is a big, heavy car, and all of its engines are more than up to the task of hauling it around with ease. In fact, it feels far smaller than its looks suggest, thanks in part to its fine handling, but also its powerful and responsive engines. There’s a mix of petrol and diesel engines in various power outputs, as well as a sole plug-in hybrid option.

>> We rate the best hybrid SUVs for 2020

Range Rover Sport petrol engines

Kicking off the petrol range is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – badged Si4 – that comes with 300hp and 400Nm of torque. This will get the Range Rover Sport from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 125mph. This engine, as with all models, comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive as standard. Next up is the turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder P360, producing 360hp and 495Nm of torque. This has a quicker 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds and has a higher top speed of 130mph.

Opt for the more powerful P400 and you get 400hp and 550Nm of torque. This is capable of completing the 0-62mph sprint in 5.9 seconds and will reach 140mph at top speed. A mild hybrid system is used in this engine which uses a 48v battery, an integrated start generator and electric supercharger to boost not only the car’s electrical assistance, but also efficiency when the car is stopping and starting.

Available in higher-spec models is the 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged producing 525hp and 625Nm of torque. This powerful engine accelerates the Sport from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, and will reach a top speed of 155mph (or 140mph with a pair of optional rear seats fitted).

Range Rover Sport SVR V8 engine

If that’s not impressive enough, you can opt for the top-spec Range Rover Sport SVR, which uses the same 5.0-litre V8, but with a bump in power and torque to a whopping 575hp and 700Nm. This makes it capable of a 0-62mph sprint in just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 176mph. Quite a feat for something the sheer size of the Range Rover Sport.

Range Rover Sport diesel engines

More popular with buyers are the diesel engines – offering enough power and sizeable torque levels combined with more manageable running costs. The range starts with the 3.0-litre SDV6, which produces 249hp and 600Nm of torque. This might be the entry-level engine, but that’s a healthy amount of pulling power for everyday use, taking 7.9 seconds to reach from 0-62mph. Top speed is 130mph.

Step up to the 306hp version and this comes with a brawnier 700Nm of torque. With a 7.1-second 0-62mph time, it’s no slouch and will reach 130mph – opt for the Dynamic pack and this climbs up to 140mph.

The only other diesel option is a corker – a 4.4-litre V8 badged SDV8 – that produces 339hp and 740Nm of torque, making it the strongest in terms of pulling power out of the whole Range Rover Sport line-up. However, while those figures may sound tempting, the 0-62mph time is actually a tenth slower than the SDV6, at 7.2 seconds. Top speed also remains the same with or without the Dynamic pack.

It does feel supremely smooth and strong on the move though, with a lovely V8 rumble from under the bonnet when you need to speed things up a bit. It feels far more like the top-of-the-range diesel option and it’s well-matched with the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, being quick to respond when you demand a bit more of it. It’s certainly quick enough for overtaking manoeuvres on the motorway, surging forwards rather than eagerly accelerating, but it’s more than up to the task in all situations.

P400e: the plug-in hybrid

If you want a Range Rover Sport PHEV, there’s one available in the form of the P400e. To have a Range Rover Sport with a sub-100g/km CO2 rating and the ability to waft in silence would have seemed far-fetched in the not-too-distant past. Now, this plug-in hybrid P400e model claims to possess both those traits, as well as being able to drive on electric power for up to 30 miles.

This works on paper if you need to save tax, but you’ll need to make full use of the electric power to make the most of it. Our time of testing saw this electric-only range drop to 26 miles on a full charge, so the distance you cover in between each battery charge would have to be pretty short in order to minimise fuel usage.

It uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine in combination with a battery and electric motor, producing a total system output of 404hp and 275Nm of torque. It’ll get from 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds, but it’s also capable of running for up to 30 miles on battery power alone when fully charged. Top speed is 137mph.

Range Rover Sport P400e dials

The electric assistance provides the 2.0-litre engine a little boost in performance and while this turbocharged four-cylinder engine can sometimes feel a little underpowered, it helps nudge the P400e along and get up to speed with a bit more ease.

We found the gearchanges to be a little jerky when you start to press on, but the electric motors are quite quick to respond to driver inputs in EV mode. Larger throttle inputs can be met with a delay though when you need to set off from stationary at a junction, so it’s worth planning these sooner.

The engine doesn’t sound particularly nice – we suspect there’s a hint of artificial engine sound being piped into the cabin - but it feels less agricultural than certain rivals, such as Mercedes, even if their hybrid powertrain is superior in terms of electric range and performance. The brake pedal is pretty good for a hybrid, however, being easy to modulate and avoiding the jerkiness other hybrid cars suffer from when they can act like an on/off switch.

There are different drive modes available – the default of which is Parallel Hybrid mode which just lets the car do its own thing, switching between combined petrol and electric driving on its own. Then there’s Predictive Energy Optimisation, which intelligently switches between engine and battery power based on the route set in the sat nav to maximise efficiency. Finally, there’s EV mode that just uses battery power, and a Save function that holds the charge in the battery to be used later in the journey – although we found this failed to work during our time of testing.

Eight-speed automatics for all

All models of the Range Rover Sport come with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s generally very good, shifting gears quickly and promptly responding to driver inputs, with a sportier S setting if you nudge the gearlever to the left.

Range Rover Sport automatic gearbox

The paddles mounted on the steering allow you to override what gear has been selected, too, but you do suffer from hesitation when setting off from standstill at junctions.

Engines no longer available

On offer at launch was the same 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, but with two outputs. It could be ordered with 292hp (badged SDV6) or 259hp (TDV6) power outputs. The more powerful SDV6 felt very strong in the Sport and able to match the top-of-the-range 5.0-litre petrol engine for the vast majority of road driving conditions. While it couldn’t match the big V8 petrol for higher speed acceleration and sheer aural delight, the diesel was far more frugal.

Handling

  • Drives well for such a large car
  • Some bodyroll, but it’s very well contained
  • Feels like a much smaller car to drive than it is

Like the original Range Rover Sport, handling is something this 4x4 does better than the full-sized luxury version. What’s most noticeable is just how much smaller the Range Rover Sport feels than it really is, especially in height.

The steering feels responsive and accurate, with a good resistance and weighting as you turn the wheel. It helps the Range Rover Sport feel more involving, but, typically for this type of car, you still have no idea what grip levels you have.

The Sport inspires more confidence over the larger Range Rover, but remains less agile and more comfort-focussed than those from Porsche and BMW. There’s more body roll over its rivals and it still feels quite heavy, which is hardly surprising given that certain models weigh over 2,500kg.

Driving down faster sweeping roads is more within the Range Rover Sports comfort zone, rather than tighter, twisting country lanes. This is all aided by the Dynamic package which adds a host of driver aid tech including Torque Vectoring Control that works by transferring more pulling power to the outside wheels thus tightening the line through a corner.

Range Rover Sport V8 handling

HST combines sportiness and refinement

The straight-six Sport in HST form is interesting. It sounds like a Toyota GR Supra when you fire it up, but settles down to be incredibly quiet in town. Couple this refinement with an updated version of JLR’s eight-speed auto smoothly shifting between the ratios, and a start/stop system that's impressively inoffensive, and you're left with a car that doesn't feel altogether as sporting as its looks would lead you to believe.

It's effortlessly quick in and out of town, which is useful for launching up slip roads and low-effort overtaking manoeuvres. The engine revs freely and happily heads to the redline in a very un-SUV way. So, it's quiet when you want to relax, but it makes a sporty noise to accompany the performance when you want it to be. Consider it an easy-to-drive executive cruiser with ample acceleration, and you're there.

What's it like off-road?

With a Land Rover badge, the Range Rover Sport needs to impress, and it demonstrates the same remarkable off-roading skills that the full-fat Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery models have. Steep, slippery ascents, deep wading in nearly three feet of water and clambering over rocks, the Sport seems to take everything in its stride.

Land Rover has gone to great lengths to point out that ultimately the normal Range Rover has the greater ability off-road but you’d have to be contemplating an ascent of the north face of the Eiger to really notice the differences between the two cars.

It’s all easily controlled, too. The lower touchscreen inside the car controls the driving modes – you just tap the kind of terrain on which you’re driving and the car will set itself up to perform at its best. It’ll tweak the ride height (on air suspension), the throttle response and the traction control to make the car as effective as possible on a wide variety of terrain types. Alternatively, the rotary selector behind the gearlever will do the same job and is easier to use on the move or when wearing gloves in the winter.

Range Rover Sport V8 off road