There was a time when new offerings from Britain’s Land Rover rolled out at a glacial pace. Perhaps it’s global warming but the maker is rapidly ramping up its rollout schedule. With the wildly successful launches of the Evoque and Range Rover remake behind it, the Brits are again making news at the New York Auto Show.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your newest model show up for a packed preview with actor Daniel Craig, better known as 007, behind the wheel.
Craig’s stunt almost overshadowed the introduction of the the completely remade 2014 Range Rover Sport, a car the British maker describes as “the fastest, most agile and responsive Land Rover ever.”
Roughly 6 inches shorter, 2 inches lower and 100 pounds lighter than the recently launched Range Rover, the Sport has undergone a complete maker for 2014. It migrates from a largely steel body-on-frame platform to a decidedly lighter aluminum unibody architecture.
Compared to the previous-generation Range Rover Sport it sheds about 800 pounds of mass, depending on the specific model, with a base weight of 4727 pounds with a supercharged V-6 powertrain.
The maker promises that will translate into a more agile and fuel efficient model that can now be ordered in standard five-passenger configuration or with an optional 2-seat third row for “occasional use.”
Visually, the 2014 Range Rover Sport borrows some key design cues from the Evoque, including its front fascia and narrow headlamps, as well as a more sloping “floating” roofline and tailgate-mounted spoiler. But it also maintains traditional design elements like the signature clamshell hood, floating roof, and side fender vents. The front headlight cluster now adopts a new LED “signature” design. The rear lamps go LED, as well.
The interior was intended to give the 2014 Sport remake a more lavish and luxurious feel while also incorporating new infotainment and other technologies. The center console rises higher than before to accommodate those new features, positioning controls closer to the driver. This is a Range Rover, of course, so one probably should expect plenty of leather seats and surfaces, finished in twin-needle stitching.
The base models feature a 5-inch TFT display surrounded by analog gauges. Higher-end versions of the 2014 Range Rover Sport shift to a reconfigurable 12.3-inch TFT display. A second, 8-inch touchscreen topping the center console handles infotainment and other functions.
For 2014 the Brits plan to increase the range of personalized choices by offering, for example, 19 different exterior paints, 11 interior color themes, four aluminum interior finishes, three real wood veneers, three contrast roof colors and a number of wheel options sized from 19 to 22 inches.
There will be two powertrain choices in the U.S. market, meanwhile, including the base 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 and the high-line 510-horsepower supercharged V-8. Both come paired to a new 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Fuel-saving stop/start technology is standard. The system automatically shuts off the engine instead of idling at a light, for example, then immediately fires it back up when the driver’s foot lifts off the brake.
The V-6 is claimed to deliver 0 to 60 times of 6.9 seconds. The V-8 will launch in a flat 5.0 seconds, nearly a full second faster than the outgoing model.
It’s no accident of timing that the launch of the 2014 Range Rover Sport was held for the last big American auto show of the season. Not only is the U.S. the largest national market for the Sport but the New York region is the single-largest metro market.
No wonder Land Rover engineers put an emphasis on improving the on-road manners of the 2014 Range Rover Sport. But while you’re likely to see plenty of the SUVs commuting between Wall Street and the estates of Westchester, Long Island and Connecticut, there are still many folks looking for serious off-road capability.
The new all-aluminum independent suspension is double-isolated and offers more than 10 inches of wheel travel, front and rear, with the air suspension package able to add an extra 2.4 inches of ground clearance. The maximum height range is a full 7 inches.
The 2014 Range Rover Sport adopts a new electric power-assisted steering system. And the optional Terrain Response 2 control system now adds a Dynamic Mode that automatically detects changes in the pavement surface and can rapidly adjust such settings as gearing, brake dynamics, steering and throttle response.
The new model also features a dynamic active locking rear differential and uses a brake-based torque vectoring system to help apply torque, as needed, to steer through tight corners.
The 2014 Range Rover Sport SE comes in at a $63,495 MSRP. The fully-loaded flagship of the line-up, the Range Rover Sport Autobiography, goes for $93,295. Add another $895 for delivery charges.