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2010 Range Rover Sport Stubbornly Rejects Heritage

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With all of the performance and mechanical updates to the 2010 Range Rover Sport, you might anticipate that Land Rover is re-energizing themselves by returning to their off-roading, go-anywhere roots. You’d be wrong. While built well, off-road capable, and with a huge amount of new engineering clearly on display, little of its expensive high-tech trappings are meant to make the Range Rover Sport any better off of hard pavement.

If Land Rover were selling well, the improvements for 2010 would be laudable. And perhaps in spite of their financial woes they still are.
Updates include a new 5.0-liter V8 engine, an adaptive damping system and brakes that incite Porsche Cayenne-type comparisons. We all love Porsche, but is that REALLY the direction Land Rover should head? The clearest affirmation of these comparisons is under the hood, which holds a version of Jaguar’s new direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 that produces either 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, or when supercharged, a total of 510 horses and 461 lbs of torque. That’s enough to get to 60 mph in the high 5-second range, which is both impressive and excessive for an SUV-purposed vehicle. Fuel economy is predictably abysmal with 12 and 18 mpg in city and highway driving.

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Obviously no one would reasonable expect to use the majority of that power anywhere but on a highway somewhere which explains the retuned all-wheel-drive chassis and all-new adaptive suspension system that improves on-pavement comfort and handling. The new Bilstein dampers feature continuously variable valving, optimized in real-time by predictive, computer-modeled electronics. What’s more, the Range Rover Sport’s Terrain Response selector has gained a Dynamic Program setting specifically for high speed on road driving. To soothe the concerns of those that dare risk scratching the paint of the Range Rover Sport, a new “Sand Launch” selection as also been added in the same program.

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When equipped with the normally aspirated V8, the Range Rover Sport gets the brake setup of the outgoing supercharged model, with twin-piston front brake calipers and 14.2-inch front rotors. The supercharged version adopts 15-inch front rotors with six-piston, aluminum monoblock calipers.

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On the outside, the styling that has been a part of modern Land Rover DNA for several years is retained, although with small changes. Despite our frustration at the companies refusal to toughen up as a British-Jeep equivalent, this look is undeniably attractive. Same could be said for the interior which is stacked with new technologies including new iPod controls, a thin-film transistor instrument display, a shift paddle option and five cameras placed around the vehicle to aid parking.

UK-version Interior

UK-version Interior

The basic (for lack of a better word) Range Rover Sport commands around $60,000 while a supercharged version adds roughly 15 grand more. Being a solid daily commuter and family-hauler is not the worst criticism in the world if Land Rover offered a full set of automotive choices in North American. Unfortunately, without a Defender-type vehicle, what is left are a variety of all-wheel drive luxury options like the Range Rover Sport that range from merely expensive to laughably cost-prohibitive. In other words, Land Rover soldiers on with the same approach that has caused them to hemorrhage money for years.

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