2015 Range Rover Sport Hybrid review
Isaac Bober’s first drive 2015 Range Rover Sport Hybrid review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
In a nutshell: The addition of a hybrid to the Range Rover Sport line-up is clever, because it offers V8 oomph with better-than V6 fuel consumption.
2015 Range Rover Sport Hybrid
Price From $146,900 (+ORC) Warranty three years, 100,000km Safety N/A Engine 3.0-litre Power/Torque 250kW/700Nm Transmission eight-speed automatic Body 4850mm (L) 2073mm (W) 1780mm Weight from 2372kg Thirst 6.4L/100km
WHEN THE RANGE ROVER became an all-aluminium lightweight, well, relatively speaking, anyway the way was paved for Land Rover to make the Range Rover Sport less tough and more sporting. And before I end up with Land Rover enthusiasts burning an effigy of me on my front lawn, I say less tough in that the opportunity presented itself to move the Range Rover Sport off the twin chassis rails of the Discovery, on which it had been previously based.
This meant the Range Rover Sport was finally able to be talked about in the same conversation as Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 M. Sure, the Sport had always looked the part, but at its heart was really nothing more than a tricked up Discovery. Not anymore.
So, the Sport was developed alongside the Range Rover proper (meaning it’s up to 420kg lighter than its predecessor) but it’s not the same as the Range Rover, indeed 75% of its parts are unique. But, hey, we’re not here to explore the history of the development of the Sport. Nope. Now, we’ve already driven the Range Rover Sport before and liked it very much, but this time we’re driving the Range Rover Sport Hybrid…
Introduced to Australia after the arrival of the new Range Rover Sport the Hybrid is considered a 2015-and-a-half model. Don’t think then that the Sport Hybrid was an afterthought by Land Rover because it wasn’t, the UK car maker says it designed the new Range Rover Sport to offer a hybrid derivative. Available in two variants, our test car was the Sport HSE Hybrid which lists from $146,900 (+ORC) while the Autobiography Hybrid lists from $165,300 (+ORC).
Under the bonnet of the Sport Hybrid is a 3.0-litre supercharged turbo-diesel V6 which makes 215kW and 525Nm of torque. Mated to this is an integral electric motor that’s slotted in-between the engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, it makes 35kW and 175Nm for a combined total output of 250kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm between 1500-3000rpm. Fuel consumption is a combined 6.4L/100km and in our week of varied driving, we managed to get pretty close to that returning an impressive 6.6L/100km. To put that into perspective, that’s less than I’m currently seeing in our long-term Toyota Corolla ZR.
So, how does the hybrid side of things work? Well, think of it as a set-up offering V8-oomph with V6 fuel consumption, or thereabouts. The hybrid set-up in the Sport allows drivers to run in pure EV mode, but in our testing we couldn’t even travel 100m at low speed before the diesel engine kicked in, and that was with the EV meter on the dash showing full power. Instead, we left the EV button alone and used the electric motor as more of a power boost than a principal form of propulsion.
Interestingly, the Range Rover Sport Hybrid always starts in electric vehicle mode, meaning when you thumb the starter motor there’s nothing. Sure, the dials swing into life, the radio fires up and the air-con and lights too, but until you touch the throttle to pull away from the kerb there’s nothing but an eerie silence.
Once you’re up and running it feels like any other Range Rover Sport with the electric motor kicking in as required or occasionally even taking over when the speed is less than 40km/h and you’re on an even throttle, but even then it’s only for a moment or two. The transition from electric to diesel is seamless and so well insulated is the Sport that if you’ve got the music pumping you won’t even know what’s working when…
Sure, this might be the lightest ever RR Sport but at more than 2000kg it’s not really a lightweight by any stretch of the definition yet, thanks to 700Nm of torque from a low 1500-3000rpm, (on par with the supercharged V8 diesel and more torque than the big-banger 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol) the totally effortless way the Sport Hybrid goes about accelerating, even on half throttle is truly impressive. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a stand-out too, offering near seamless shifts up or down exactly when you need it.
The smoothness of the transmission is echoed by the smoothness of the ride. Sitting on air springs, the Range Rover Sport is able to smother imperfections in the road like no other vehicle on the planet, with the exception of its bigger brother, the Range Rover proper. Short of, say, a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5, the Range Rover Sport lives up to the sport in its name, offering impressive body control on fast or slow roads, and well weighted and accurate steering.
If you’re ham-fisted with the thing it’ll run wide in corners, which is sort of an early warning that you’ve either run out of talent, piled into a corner too fast or there’s not enough grip on the surface and you’ve arrived at the corner with too much speed. See where I’m going… A little bit of brake and then throttle will allow you to manually tighten the Sport’s line, or you could just drive a little slower.
But, it’s off-road where the Range Rover Sport steps away from its competitors, and it’s a big step away from them. Our test car had the latest version of Land Rover’s clever Terrain Response which now offers an auto mode which allows the car, depending on what parameters are triggered inside its electronic brain to automatically select the right Terrain Response setting so that the driver simply has to steer and control the throttle. But does it work?
Yes. At least as far as I know… I mean, I’m safely at home writing this and not stuck in the middle of a muddy bog, so it must have worked. And I tried to make the task as scientific as I could. Selecting auto, as soon as I turned off the bitumen, the track I drove across was a mix of rocky climbs in places, hard packed fast dirt, some slower softer sandy stuff, then hard packed again and then a long run of very deep, very muddy ruts. And not once did I touch Terrain Response, I simply let the Sport do its thing, and it transitioned from the hard-packed dirt to the sticky, deep mud ruts without missing a beat. The only thing I thought I noticed was a momentary pause as the vehicle waited for some slip to determine the surface it was on…
See, I did the run a few times. Both in manual mode and auto mode and in manual mode (selecting mud ruts) I didn’t think/feel there was the same initial pause, but that was my seat of the pants impression only.
In terms of angles, approach is 24.3-degrees in standard height and 33-degrees in Off-Road; departure is 24.9 and 31, respectively; and ramp over is 19.4 and 27.2, respectively. Wading depth is 850mm – wade sensing is not standard. Ground clearance is 213mm and 278mm in Off-Road height.
Everyone makes a big deal of having to climb up and into a 4×4 but that’s the point. That said, the Range Rover Sport, in its access mode, sits 10mm lower than its predecessor, which makes it no more difficult than climbing into any other SUV. Once in, you get that typical Range Rover command driving position, only in the Sport it’s described as a Sports Command Driving Position, which means you still sit up nice and high but just not as high as you do in a Range Rover proper. No matter how tall or short you are, or whether you’re sitting in the back, the seats are adjustable and comfortable.
If you’re driving, then there’s excellent vision right around and all of the controls are easy to reach and adjust and they feel both beautiful and hard-wearing to the touch. The touch screen infotainment unit is easy to use, although the menu settings easily confuse you when trying to do simple stuff like toggle between radio stations and audio streaming, etc. The sat-nav is easy to use, although the map display is a little dated looking.
The second-row seats offered enough room for both mini-mes and the fact the back rests can be reclined means it’s easy to get child seats to fit just-so. With the kids’ seats out and me in the back, I found there was plenty of leg, head and shoulder room. Over in the boot there’s more than 780 litres of storage space.
Our test car was the Range Rover Sport SDV6 Hybrid HSE which lists from $146,900 (+ORC) and for that you get Land Rover’s Terrain Response, high/low range, acoustic laminated windscreen, rain-sensing wipers, power adjustable and heated side mirrors that dip when reverse selected, LED head-lights with power wash, front and rear parking aids, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, Bluetooth and audio streaming, and much more.
In terms of safety, the Range Rover achieves a five-star ANCAP rating, but there’s no local rating of the Sport. That said, the Range Rover Sport is equipped with a raft of active and passive safety features, including airbags, roll stability control, alarm, stability and traction controls, four-wheel drive, trailer sway assist, auto head-lights and more.