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SA launch: Range Rover Sport II

2013-11-07 07:20

SUPERIOR DRINKS TROLLEY: Where once sat paying passengers, the 2014 Range Rover Sport rumbles through a DC10 jumbo jet (note the Land Rover parked behind). Image: LAND ROVER SA


Land Rover South Africa launched the second version of its Range Rover Sport this week (Nov 5 2013) and part of the event included driving a Rangey through the cadaver of an expired jumbo jet.


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - When you're paying a million bucks for an out-of-the box car you'll be wanting something  special, hey, but the second coming of Jaguar Land Rover's Range Rover Sport goes a large step beyond "something special".

I've just driven variously-engined versions of the 2014 Sport over a tailored off-road track with a near metre-deep "river crossing", along 300km of Gauteng's variously brilliant but often ageing freeways, on a closed track at 200km/h and through the aluminium carcass of a giant McDonnell Douglas DC10 airliner – which was something different....

It was lengthways then sideways using steel-mesh access ramps you'd have trouble walking up because they were as close to vertical as anything I've ever done on four wheels.


The stunt was done earlier, in the UK I believe, as part of the cars' launch there, so JLR SA decided to try it here in South Africa, too, in the giant Hangar 5 in the remote reaches of OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg.

Range Rover Sport image gallery
Drive through a jumbo with us

The plane was built in 1978 and hadn't flown since 2005, the year the first Sport came off the production lines; to turn it into a launch prop it was gutted (except for First Class), four Range Rover-sized holes were cut in its hull - three in the sides, the fourth beneath the flight deck, each linked to Mother Earth by one of four steel-mesh ramps. A Land Rover was parked in the cabin, just to make progress tighter and even more difficult.

Like the Range Rover Sport, most of the plane is aluminium. When the two weeks of ORA launch events are over it will be cut up and the recycled metal could even become a 2015 Range Rover.

Why wasn't First Class gutted? Because we drove transversely through the seats in Range Rovers where once passengers, dressed in suits and cocktail dresses, had sipped Champagne and scoffed canapes.


And why is the Sport that step beyond? Because it's so many cars in one - off-roader, luxury high-speed cruiser, commuter, bundu-basher but so technologically advanced that its systems are barely believable. Such as a screen view that surrounds the car's image with rising blue water to warn when you are reaching its wading max.

Or all-round cameras that focus on just about every bit you don’t want to bash in the bush (or in a McDonnell Douglas fuselage) as well as allowing both front wheels to be placed with millimetre accuracy through rocky terrain (or a narrow steel ramp into a jumbo jet).

I reckon all that's good value - not to mention you'll probably be able to pass on your 2014 aluminium Range Rover Sport to your first grand-child with the body uncorroded and, given care, the mechanicals in running order.

You could ask: "Is this the world's most complete car?"

Whatever, it joins the much-bigger Range Rover and the smaller Evoque to complete the range as the fastest, lightest and most agile Range Rover yet. Peter Bivan, JLR's South African communications director, recalled that the RRS was first seen as the Stormer concept back in 2004; the real thing appeared in 2005 and five years later came the face-lifted Sport MY 2010 - replaced now with the all-aluminium and much different 2013 model.


It's a fully off-road machine with more wheel articulation than any competitor - a half-metre of fully independent air-suspension. There's a full house of lockable differentials taking power from the same engines as fitted to the company's Jaguar products and delivered through an eight-speed ZF gearbox (across the range) to Land Rover's awesome multitude of drive/terrain modes that use torque-vectoring to send drive to the wheel/s with the best grip.

We used low-range rock-climb and barely any accelerator pressure to mount the ramps into the McDonnell Douglas - helped by the all-aluminium construction slashing 420kg off the previous model's mass. And although the Sport is undoubtedly a Range Rover, 75% of its parts are model-specific.

Kevin Flynn, MD of Jaguar Land Rover SA and sub-Sahara Africa, said at the launch presentation in the huge hangar: “The second-generation Sport moves the goalposts again. This car is a remarkable engineering achievement. Its combination of aluminium architecture, powerful and fuel-efficient engines and innovative dynamic chassis technologies have made it is the fastest, most agile and most responsive Land Rover yet.”
JLR describes the RRS as having "a fresh interpretation of the previous model’s distinctive design. The new vehicle has a sleek and contemporary appearance combined with enhanced use of space. The new Sport is 62mm longer than its predecessor at 4.85m but shorter than rival SUV’s and most E-segment sedans, bringing greater manoeuvrability and ease of parking."

The wheelbase is up by 178mm for more passenger space but front and rear overhangs are approach/departure angle-friendly. The windscreen is more raked, the roofline slopes and, JLR says, the package is eight percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing vehicle (Cd 0.34).


The Sport is 149mm shorter and 55mm lower than the latest Range Rover on which it is based and, model-by-model, is 45kg lighter. Various wheel-rim designs are available in 20, 21 and 22" sizes.

Wheel-travel is class-leading (260mm front, 272mm rear) and wheel articulation goes through a huge 546mm to deal; maximum ground clearance has been increased to 278mm (up by 51mm) and adjusted automatically by the choice of terrain response.

Two full-time 4x4 systems are available, one with a two-speed transfer case with low range and a 50/50 torque split with 100% diff locks. The other, 18kg lighter, has a single-speed transfer box with a Torsen differential.

Three engines are available now – two supercharged petrol (five-litre 375kW/624Nm V8 and a new three-litre 250kW/450Nm V6) and a 215kW/600Nm three-litre SDV6 diesel – the V8 capable of 5.3sec to 100km/h but while using 24% less fuel.

A four-cylinder engine – thanks to the cars’ weight loss – is, JLR says, "a possibility".

The compact cabin is furnished to limo standards (the chiller can take a bottle of Champagne, various audio systems run up to 23 speakers, the steering-wheel is smaller than most but fully equipped with remote controls and paddle gear-shifters) and if something moves it probably has power to do so.


If other cars have a manual something, it’s pretty certain the RRS goes with automatic and with flat cornering, great trip and self-lowering suspension it can behave more like a sports-car than a sports-car can...

Last bit to the Range Rover folk: “The all-new Range Rover Sport, with its greatly enhanced versatility, is destined to continue the outstanding success of its predecessor, which quickly became one of Land Rover’s most popular models after its introduction in 2005, with sales exceeding 415 000 worldwide from 2005-2012.

“The RRS was designed and engineered at Land Rover’s development centres in the UK and is assembled in a state-of-the-art, low-energy plant in Solihull in central England.

Prices range from R824 500 through R855 000 to R1 263 600 – the last for the V8 Supercharged HSE Dynamic flagship.

And if you’re looking for exclusivity, Land Rover says there are 76 608 possible combinations of paint colour, options and trim combinations. As my favourite restaurant manager Elmarie says at Die Damhuis in Melkbosstrand... “Are you ready to order yet, sir?”

Except for the ‘sir’ bit.

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