By Bradley Hasemeyer
on 11.27.12
Photo by BH

How do you really define overkill? Is 510 horsepower too much or just being prepared? If your $100K luxury SUV can climb a 45 degree muddy slope in a forest, but only goes on grocery runs, does it really make a sound? The 2013 Range Rover Sport Supercharged answers the question, “what if you wanted to spend $7K less, find a parking spot easier and still ride baller status?” In a brand that thrives by being overly capable, the Sport finds the sweet spot in excess.

Read on to see photos and learn more about the Range Rover Sport.

Inspired by a drive in a WWII Jeep one summer at his holiday home, chief designer for the Rover Company (to become Land Rover in 1978) Maurice Wilks created a prototype that changed exploration and redefined durability in the four-wheel-drive world forever. Unveiled at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show in the midst of resource scarcity and a need to get the post-war English economy moving again, the Land Rover very quickly became extremely successful.

Originally defined by simple construction, boxy looks and heavy-duty build materials, Land Rover’s popularity has been practically impossible to stop; for over 60 years the Land Rover has been the go-to vehicle for everyone from The Royal Geographical Society to rescue workers in harsh terrain and climates. Even Mr. Bond chose to drive one in SkyFall. Simply put, Land Rover has long been a British force to be reckoned with.



An SUV craze in America during the 1990s — the demand for heavy-duty multi-terrain machines declined and saw people grabbing Range Rovers for rap videos and soccer practice instead of Egyptian desert crossings — forced Land Rover to redefine their line. Their offerings expanded from one stripped down, boxy, simple off-roader to a whole slew of four-wheel-drive options; price tags ran beyond $100K for the optioned-out, full-size luxury icon Range Rover.

However, a knock on past Range Rovers persisted: their bank vault construction led to a bank vault driving experience. Not awesome. Acceleration to highway speeds was only possible if you yelled at the engine while pushing the accelerator through the floor after kicking out your passengers. They were meant to last, not to pass.

In 2005, Land Rover created the Range Rover Sport. Side by side with its bigger brother, the Sport is seven inches shorter (with a lower roof), a few inches narrower, and is less luxurious overall. An upgrade to the 2013 supercharged option for $16K is rewarded by a steroid-injected, 510hp twin-scroll supercharged V8 that showcases a more performance on-road than off. No more leaving the missus and kids on the side of the road to facilitate cruising in the left lane.



Also new for the 2013 model are red Brembo brakes and red “sport” badges on floor mats; new, too, the rear tailgate and red trim on the side vents. The interior gauges and center controls must have been run past an entire room of user experience guys: it has excellent ease of use and an eye-pleasing layout.

A feeling of security (a carry over from the roots of the brand) is certainly present in the door handles and overall ride feel. Smaller dimensions as compared to the full-size Range are noticeable; a few guys, some luggage and groceries packed it to the gills quicker than expected. What the Sport lacks in family of five utility, though, it returns seven fold in driving experience. Sure, fuel economy is more akin to our fiscal cliff than debt-free thriftiness, but you try pushing 5,800 lbs to sixty in 5.8 seconds.

The air-ride suspension offers a great balance between sturdy and light — both in straights and corners — and excels at sucking up enough of the road to allow for long driving over gravel, pot-holes, and rockier terrain; still, it gives enough road feel to avoid getting jammed up or hollowing out. The speed-sensitive steering feels accurate at high speeds but means you don’t need a personal trainer to do a three-point turn at the grocery store. Combine the steering, suspension, 510 horsepower engine and full-time AWD and you find mashing the pedal gives just a pause before ripping open the exhaust and launching without spinning tires (important for street and mud alike).

Land Rover has certainly adapted their cars over the past six decades to fit the current lifestyle (be it midtown Manhattan or Malaysian jungle) and yet retained their original focus of durability and capability. The bookends of their line-up, from fashionable Evoque to luxury tank Range Rover, can be seen as a bit too hot and bit too cold, perhaps having lent itself too much to one end of the spectrum or the other; but the Range Rover Sport Supercharged finds itself in the middle, and tasting just about perfect.

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