JLR has certainly been hitting the right notes on its way to becoming a fully-fledged electric-only car company. The latest range of Hybrid models have shown excellent performance results and are finding resonance with the buying public at large. We recently had the Range Rover Sport P510e plug-in Hybrid model on test and came away wondering why anyone would spend all that extra money on the bigger Range Rover.
Mind you, we understand big brother has and always will have a large number of fans. Granted. However, the way the Sport has come up in this generation leaves some valid questions. The Hybrid we tested came looking sleek, with those slim blade-design LED headlights wrapped front and side, simultaneously integrated on the front grille. That itself is split into three pieces that flow down. Two sports slats sit atop of the bonnet, giving it a more menacing look.
The Range Rover Sport look has not been lost, if you focus on the side profile. Smooth lines flow from front to back, not even disturbing the hidden door handles that automatically extend out when the car is unlocked and retract upon locking and/ or moving. That smoothness continues to the rear end where a clean, clutter-free look was adopted. Our model came with an electrically-controlled tow bar and we made full use of it, towing a trailer for over 100km with ease. JLR says their 2.8 tonne premium SUV can tow up to 750kg unbraked and 3 000kg in total.
While we are talking dimensions, the car measures 4.9 metres long, 2m wide, 1.8m tall in normal mode and has a really long wheelbase of just under 3 metres. Occupant comfort and space is not compromised at all, despite the fact that this is a regular wheelbase. Our test unit – despite looking grey – came in a colour called Varesine Blue, nicely sandwiching the tinted windows. Those massive 22-inch alloy wheels came with a contrasting grey hue.
All occupants enjoy leather-seat a life, with the rear seats also electrically-adjustable to a limited extent. Buyers can specify a full-sized spare wheel if they like. JLR seems to have improved the Pivi Pro infotainment system, which is accessed through a 33.2cm touch screen. It is much more intuitive and logical, and less finicky. Unlike some manufacturers today, JLR installed a GPS mapping system as well. Wireless charging, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay and others come standard, as they should at this price point. Rear passengers were also gifted their own two screens for extra amusement, an option some may pick. The entire system is paired a powerful Meridian sound system.
The new Range Rover Sport has managed to combine the best elements of the JLR company into a super product that will serve a much wider range of buyer than ever before. Its plug-in Hybrid system is based on a turbocharged petrol V6, with the batteries providing up to 85km of petrol-free driving. That is quite huge, especially in this country where fully-electric cars are still anxiety-inducing for many potential buyers. We managed to drive for two whole days without using petrol at some point, thanks to fast-charging systems in Johannesburg. It is ideal for those who don’t travel over 80km per day. Simply plug it into the charger at the end of day and refill for tomorrow’s commute.
A good balance between the stiffness of a sporty drive and the softness of a premium drive has been achieved. Yes, the steering may be a bit vague at a slower pace but that is fine. It does stiffen up when speeds are higher. In the sportier modes the suspension also tightens up, offering nice feedback. At 2.8 tonnes one cannot escape the weight issue, but it does hide it well for the most part. Range Rovers are capable off-road vehicles too, although most owners will not venture out into the wild unprovoked. The prospect of body scratches, punctures and other nasties on their R3 million babies is not an attractive one.
Nevertheless these cars have all the necessary tool to complete really challenging off-road tasks. Such tools include the 4×4 system, Terrain Response 2 which allows driver to select the right settings for the right road surface, a wading depth of 90cm, and approach and departure angles of 29.7 and 30 degrees each respectively in Off-road mode.
Competitors in this segment should now genuinely be concerned about the Range Rover Sport. And in this P510e guise it really cuts into the diesel market, offering the best of two worlds, whilst simultaneously staying true to its Range Rover roots of a premium product.
RANGE ROVER SPORT P510e
ENGINE: 3.0-litre, V6 turbo petrol, Hybrid
POWER: 375kW between 5 500rpm and 6 500rpm
TORQUE: 700Nm between 1 500rpm and 5 000rpm
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic
0 – 100KM/H: 5.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 242km/h
AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION: 6.5 litres per 100km
FUEL TANK SIZE: 80 litres
ELECTRIC RANGE: 85km
COMBINED RANGE: 820km to 1 250km
CO2 e: 37 g/km
LANE KEEP ASSIST: Yes
NATURAL RIVALS: BMW X5 xDrive50e, Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, Volvo XC90 T8
PRICE RIVALS: Audi S8, Audi RS Q8, BMW i7, Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+, Maserati Quattroporte, Porsche 911 Carrera GTS coupe, Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo
MAINTENANCE PLAN: 5-year/100 000km, roadside assistance
WARRANTY: 5-year/100 000km
BADDIE INDEX: 5/5
PRICE STANDARD: R2 810 100