With last week's unveiling of the new generation Sport, Range Rover has secured a unique place between the design and automotive worlds. The new car, which made its debut at the New York Auto Show, is touted to be the fastest and most responsive vehicle in the Range Rover family, while still making good on all the on-road dynamics and multi-faceted capability that we've come to expect.

'We're in the process of creating a whole new generation of vehicles,' said Gerry McGovern, the design director for Range Rover and Land Rover. 'For me the original Range Rover is about formality, it's presidential. It's above everything and when you sit in it, it's almost like sitting on a throne. Range Rover Sport is a more suited to the younger crowd, probably by about 10 years.'

Despite boasting a new high strength aluminum unibody, the Range Rover Sport is actually 800 lbs lighter than its predecessors and decidedly more agile. The car is 191 inches long (actually smaller than many mid-sized sedans, despite its imposing appearance) and as a result the vehicle not only takes up fewer resources to manufacture, but is also able to stop quicker and run more efficiently on a smaller range of engines.

The original Sport was fun to drive but not really a looker - spoiled by awkward proportions and a brusque, brutish image. The new car is a marked improvement, bringing engineering and design together in one happy union, tempering the naked aggression of that cliff-like front visage with elegant lines, a dramatic silhouette and a falling, panoramic roof. Inside, the update runs to a more minimalist dashboard, the company's latest and greatest off-road tech - better able to handle all types of terrain conditions, with increased ground clearance and improved wading depth.

Just as the new Range Rover is a luxury limousine that doubles up as a true go-anywhere vehicle, so the Sport handles its dualist character with aplomb. It promises a real turn of speed and dynamics, together with a sohpsticated interior and all the off-road ability you'll ever need.

'We've taken a fresh approach to functionality,' explained McGovern, 'With us it's that killer combination: great compelling design that resonates on an emotional level, combined with that engineering capability. That's what differentiates us in the marketplace.'

TAGS: TRANSPORT