Range Rover Sport 2023 updates sporting luxury for a new era
The third-generation, 2023 Range Rover Sport blends luxury with go-anywhere zeal, options include a plug-in hybrid with a 460-mile range, and there’s a pure EV coming soon
In the wake of the recently launched 2022 Range Rover, an all-new Range Rover Sport appears to cater to those who seek a bit more dynamic scope to their monumental driving machine.
The original Range Rover Sport arrived all the way back in 2005, forging the way for the ‘Range Rover’ name to become a sub-brand in its own right, leaving Land Rover to produce slightly less sybaritic, more action/family orientated vehicles. Range Rover subsequently expanded still further with the introduction of the 2011 Evoque (now in its second generation) and the 2018 Velar.
The original Range Rover Sport was superseded by a second-generation model in 2013, which saw the introduction of hybrid power and performance versions.
This is generation three. Whereas the flagship Range Rover is pushing ever further upmarket and transforming itself into a real competitor for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Maybach, the Sport’s targets are somewhat faster moving. For now, ultra-performance SUVs are still big sellers – the Aston Martin DBX, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and forthcoming Ferrari Purosangue to name but four.
Crucially, for the most part, these cars rely on traditional engines, not electric powertrains – even hybrid performance SUVs are thin on the ground. The next generation – in the form of the Lotus Eletre and others – is readying itself in the wings.
As a result, the Range Rover Sport is designed to have its cake and eat it. From the outset, there’ll be a plug-in hybrid, a mild hybrid petrol and diesel, as well as a high-performance twin-turbo V8. Come 2024, there’ll be a pure EV as well. Whether this model’s sporting character can be sustained across such a broad range of powertrains remains to be seen.
For now, all we have to go on is the design. In truth, this is more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Around three-quarters of a million Sports have been built so far, so the formula isn’t due for a shake-up – just yet. The new car shares the same basic proportions as its predecessors, with a relatively shallow glasshouse and steeply raked windscreen (as opposed to the more upright stance of the larger Range Rover). The most obvious visual difference is a general smoothing out of the lines, with a flush glasshouse and door handles, and slimmer lights and grilles at the front. The rear elevation gets the most dramatic overhaul, with a sleeker, more minimal layout that adheres to the company’s much-vaunted ‘modernist philosophy’ of design.
Inside, the dashboard splices screens and buttons to functional effect, with the full raft of Range Rover’s off-road functions still very much present and correct. It’s regularly pointed out that the more luxurious and lifestyle-orientated the company’s designs get, the less likely they are to be ever taken off-road.
Suffice to say, this reality doesn’t seem to have diminished Range Rover’s desire to make its vehicles truly ‘go-anywhere’, and the Sport continues this tradition. The new ‘Adaptive Off-Road Cruise Control’ system, for example, lets you set your speed over practically any type of terrain on the planet and the car will do the rest (as long as you remember to steer).
The 2023 Range Rover Sport promises to be all things to everyone, in other words. Most usefully, perhaps, is the real-world range of 460 miles that the plug-in hybrid model delivers.
Sporting luxury is all very well, but the ability to travel far and wide will always be a strong selling point. §