2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE / Range Rover Sport Supercharged

2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE / Range Rover Sport Supercharged 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE / Range Rover Sport Supercharged
First Drive Review

Like its similarly named and styled big brother, the Range Rover Sport receives two new engines and a number of chassis, interior, and exterior changes for 2010. Despite the many updates, the Range Rover Sport is still very much the same SUV that it was before, remaining on the same body-on-frame platform as the Land Rover LR4, previously known as the LR3. As a result, it is seriously heavy at about 5800 pounds, a level of mass seldom associated with anything resembling sportiness. But it’s that significant weight that makes the Sport that much more impressive, at least in supercharged form.

The Germans Are Still Quicker

The good news is that the Range Rover Sport is even sportier for 2010. A new direct-injection, 5.0-liter V-8 co-developed with Jaguar puts out an impressive 510 hp when supercharged and a still-impressive 375 hp in naturally aspirated form. According to our testing, the previous 390-hp Sport Supercharged accelerated from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds. Land Rover claims the 2010 version will hit that mark in 5.9 seconds, but we believe we can better that by a few 10ths. The new engine delivers a serious shove, and 100 mph arrives far more quickly than before. But even with 510 ponies on tap, it’s not as quick as the BMW X6 xDrive50i and is likely on par with the Mercedes-Benz ML550. Of course, should you bring up those rivals, Land Rover apologists will likely point to the Range Rover Sport’s off-road prowess, which remains intact despite the on-road bent of the Sport.

Without the supercharger, the 375-hp Range Rover Sport HSE is on the heels of last year’s supercharged model. The company claims a 0-to-60 run of 7.2 seconds, a vast improvement over the 8.7 seconds we recorded for the 300-hp Sport. Throttle response is much improved, and the naturally aspirated model now seems to have an appropriate amount of power, rather than feeling hopelessly overweight. Both versions receive larger disc brakes at all four corners, along with revised steering.

Hiding the Mass

The 2010 Range Rover Sport lineup has a number of chassis tweaks that improve its ride and handling. New adaptive shock absorbers are said to continually adjust to provide a compliant ride, as well as stiffen to minimize body roll. However, both the Sport HSE and the Supercharged still exhibit a good amount of lean when thrown into corners with verve. Supercharged versions get a new “dynamic” setting for the Terrain Response system that stiffens the adaptive shocks even more, increases the responsiveness of the throttle, and accesses a more aggressive transmission program that holds gears longer and will downshift under hard braking in an attempt to set the vehicle up for a corner. Should the driver want even more control, Supercharged models have paddle shifters behind the steering-wheel spokes.

New Duds Inside, Too

Even though the power of the new engines doesn’t quite translate into class-leading acceleration, the Range Rover Sport’s revised interior truly separates it from the competition. Anything that isn’t wood-trimmed or covered by leather is made of high-quality materials that we found ourselves mindlessly caressing. The basic design of the sweeping center console remains, but all the switchgear has been improved and modernized. The Sport’s cabin is perhaps its best and most unique feature; it’s on the same level as an Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce interior. A few minutes in the new ambience are nearly enough to forget about the Sport’s quicker competitors.

The exterior styling is quite similar to that of the previous Sport, which is a good thing because it closely mimics the handsomely traditional Range Rover. New headlights, taillights, and bumpers give the face a slightly altered appearance, but the change is subtle. You almost have to have the old Sport parked next to the new one to pick out the changes.

The new power and improved interior come at a price, though. Fortunately, the 2010 Sport is only slightly pricier than the outgoing model, with the Sport HSE ringing in at $60,495, or $1270 more than last year’s. Stepping up to the Sport Supercharged requires $74,195, or $1520 more than the less powerful and less handsome 2009 model, but we’d say the extra grunt alone makes it well worth the premium.