Performance is the name of the game with the Range Rover Sport, and it delivers with a pair of 5.0-liter V-8s: a naturally-aspirated 375 horsepower/375 pound-feet of torque version for the HSE; and a 510 horsepower, 461 pound-feet of torque supercharged version for the Supercharged. Both versions accelerate briskly for such large, heavy vehicles (both weigh more than 5,500 pounds), with the HSE getting to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and the Supercharged a scant 5.9 seconds.
Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission to send power to all four wheels. Large disc brakes haul the big SUVs to a stop handily, and stiffer, more road-focused suspension at all four corners delivers surprisingly good grip and handling. A carefully tuned Dynamic traction and stability control program helps maximize the upgraded chassis and suspension layout. Fuel economy is not as bad as you might expect for a heavy, luxurious SUV with big V-8 power: the HSE scores 13/18 mpg city/highway, and the Supercharged model knocks that down to 12/17 mpg.
Having driven the Range Rover Sport both on and off road, we think the paved performance sure-footed and adept, while off-road traction and climbing ability is impressive, too. The stiffer suspension setup of the Sport compromises comfort over the bumps, rocks, and roots of the backcountry, and the low-profile, street-tread tires don't make the best companions in slick mud, but the Range Rover Sport, even in Supercharged trim, does things in the dirt many traditional SUVs can't, while still delivering smiles usually reserved for sports cars on the road. Advanced electronics and differentials make all of this possible.While the mechanical complexity of all the differentials, traction and terrain control systems, and advanced off-road features can be overwhelming, it need not be understood to be used properly. All of the various modes and controls can take some getting used to, but even with the extra mode added to the Supercharged, all one really needs to do is select the terrain in the center console and point it forward. The Range Rover Sport will do the rest.
The revised six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and can be shifted from the center console-mounted gear selector in the HSE, as well as from steering wheel-mounted paddles in the Supercharged.