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The Range Rover Sport Exercises Maximalism

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover
  • The 2023 Range Rover Sport take on a new look and two new powertrains—a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 and a 3.0-liter mild hybrid inline-six.

  • Adjustable air suspension and a host of complex off-road systems including an active e-diff and off-road cruise control make the model range more sprightly as compared to the traditional model.

  • Ranging from $83,000 all the way to $122,850, our favorite is the middle-range P400 model, striking a balance between an electrified torque shove and playful handling characteristics.


Let's face it: Performance SUVs and crossovers have gotten out of hand. From the 290-mph red-light racer Jeep Trackhawk to the corner-carving Porsche Macan GTS, the performance and capability of these vehicles are astounding given they were, frankly, never intended for extreme g-forces or drag racing McLarens. If the plan all along was to pick up the kids, toss their backpacks and a few snacks in the trunk, and hit the long, straight, and boring highway, how have we strayed so far from it?

Cynics and purists will tell you American consumers have simply become accustomed to the amenities provided by an SUV. Additional cargo space, adequate legroom, and generally higher safety ratings all add to the affability of the popular shape, but the rise of the performance SUV is owed to more than market consensus. In fact, it's largely because these models are meeting or exceeding a performance benchmark set by the likes of sport sedans and hot hatchbacks. And of these models, one brand in particular stands out as the purveyor of a certain cache, dating back to 1948.

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover

We're talking about Land Rover and its infamous Range Rover SUV, a model that has long been the standard for luxury SUVs. But the company understands not everyone can shell out a starting price of $104,000 for the Range Rover, bells and whistles included. That's why Land Rover has crafted a lineup of Range Rovers that are more accessible, starting with the $46,000 Evoque and heading up to the $60,000 Velar. Between these two reasonably priced models and the namesake version sits the Range Rover Sport, a slightly paired down variant with a focus on driver engagement starting at $83,000.

Freshly redesigned for the 2023 model year, the Range Rover Sport will come to the US in two forms: a V8-powered P530 First Edition starting at $122,850 and a range of hybrid inline six-cylinder-powered models starting at $83,000. Autoweek got to drive the boisterous turbocharged V8 and the dynamic packaged P400 hybrid I6 models in Madrid, Spain, where a group of motorcyclists led us to the twisty roads to learn just how sporty a Range Rover could be.

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover

Time was spent in both the Range Rover Sport First Edition P530 and the Range Rover Sport Dynamic SE P400, reflecting the range of V8 and MHEV I6 drivetrains. The two models sit on the same chassis with the same air suspension, though power figures are quite a bit different. Sporting a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, the P530 makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque while the electrified I6 in the P400 produces 395 hp and 406 lb-ft. With sticker prices of $122,850 and around $99,000, neither the P530 nor P400 were on the cheap end of the Range Rover Sport spectrum.

Navigating out of Madrid's Centro, the maneuverability and steering weight was a standout facet of the sport models. A fancy four-wheel steering system combines with an active e-differential and torque vectoring system to tailor the 5000-pound SUV's weight to each and every driving circumstance. In practice, the systems function without thought on the road, allowing for confident maneuvering through tight city alleys and requiring minimal movement to change lanes or dive into sharp curves. Steering feel was largely nonexistent, an industry standard as a result of electric power steering, but the adjustable steering weights were well-tuned across an array of drive modes.

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Changes are made to the double-wishbone front and five-link axle rear air suspension depending on the drive mode, namely an adjustment in the characteristic Range Rover float that makes it so comfortable on highway trips. The stiffened air suspension reduces body roll while the weighted steering helps keep steering input smooth. Sweeping corners and modest s-curves carried us into the Spanish countryside and both models took to a spirited pace.

The brakes are strong and the pedal feel is sharp without being overly sporty. This is not a car that eggs you on corner after corner, but the combination of active electronic chassis systems and a well-tuned steering rack make it amenable to a lively pace. It's worth noting the P400 MHEV I6 model was significantly less nose-heavy during corner entry and braking, making it a more balanced driving partner.