REVIEW: Range Rover Sport PHEV

The Range Rover Sport that I drove last week would have looked well in Punchestown’s car parks for their National Hunt Festival. But the car came to me a week too late to show it off in Kildare.

There is no doubt Land Rovers are popular with the horsey set and indeed others who work outdoors. Still, I got a lot of admiring glances from friends and neighbours in suburbia last week. And of course, their first question was as usual, the cost. And yes, it’s over €100k.

The Range Rover Sport has been with us since 2005, but this was my first drive in this luxurious motor. By the end of 2020, one million units had been sold, while the SUV was still in its second generation. The third generation is 10cm longer, 1cm taller and slightly wider than its predecessor.

Land Rover’s Irish sales are moderate and well off the leading brands like Toyota, VW, Hyundai, Skoda and Kia who make up the top five. But with a price tag starting of €111k not many first-time buyers will be thinking about a Land Rover Sport.

My test car was a plug-in hybrid where I could get approximately 80km in full electric mode. It was a 3.0-litre model with 440 brake horse power, so no problem being left behind at the traffic lights. I didn’t have any reason to go off-road, but looking at those massive tyres, I reckon I could have climbed a decent-sized mountain if I had to.

There was much talk last week on RTE and Newstalk about the benefits of SUV’s. I think the Tánaiste’s comments about not restricting families to one car got the discussion started. Every big car is now being labelled SUV, as car companies are no longer making MPV’s or people carriers. Some callers said they didn’t like SUV’s and claimed they polluted our cities, but then electric cars are not perfect either and there are issues about how the batteries are made and disposed of. Land Rover will have their first fully electric model in 2024.

One of the plusses mentioned in the radio discussion was the safety factor and you definitely have a commanding view of the road in the Range Rover. I don’t think SUV drivers are disrespectful to cyclists and pedestrians as was claimed on the radio.

The official colour of my test car was Santorini Black, with tinted rear windows and to some passers-by it may have looked like a limousine, or that I was transporting some celebs in the back seat. There are only five seats; if you need a Land Rover with seven seats you will need a Discovery or Defender.

The interior décor was really bright with various shades of grey on the dash plus gorgeous cream leather seats. At first I couldn’t figure out how to leave down the three rear seats, until my ever-helpful son-in-law showed me how it’s done by means of a switch in the boot.

We also discovered an ‘Access’ button in boot that will raise and lower the car’s suspension by 50cm. You can also use the Access button on the touch screen on the dash.

So, who buys a massive car like this? In England, footballers and their wives certainly like them, as does the Royal Family. The late Queen Elizabeth II is reported to driven 30 different Land Rovers during her reign.

As mentioned above, sales of Land Rover are moderate in Ireland. Yet there seems to be a lot of cars with the famous green logo and gold lettering on our roads. I think that proves they are reliable and that drivers are reluctant to sell them on.

Prices for the SE Dynamic version I drove start at €111,400, but my test car with lots of goodies, will cost you €123,785. Road tax is €180.

The Sport version of the Range Rover was gorgeous. It’s solid and yet so easy to handle. I would like to spend some time travelling the country in one this summer.