Story and photos by Justin Pritchard
Britain’s Best Shine in Extreme Driving
210… 220…… 230……… 240…. The digital speedometer in the new Range Rover Sport Supercharged was busy. Full throttle, up the back hill at Mosport (which some folks would have you think is now called “Canadian Tire Motorsports Park”) the professional driver at the wheel was locked onto the horizon ahead while the frothy, slobbering exhaust note flooded the cabin.
Jaguar F-Type. Click image to enlarge
Drive the Sport Supercharged on the road, and keeping your license will require enjoying this noise in highly moderated bursts. On the uphill straight at Mosport, it’d been gushing from the tailpipes nonstop for 12, maybe 15 seconds. Me, pro driver guy, and the two VIP guests in the back were pressed firmly into our leather seats as the rocket-propelled posh-ute rampaged forwards.
I sat shotgun, briefly contemplating how cool it’d be to take a Range Rover Sport Supercharged to a lapping day and lay the smackdown on some haters in sports cars. The fellas in back were quiet and wide-eyed. I don’t know what they were thinking right then – but our collective exhaling after pro driver guy crested the hill at the better part of 250 km/h and jammed on the Brembos ahead of the next corner said it all: “We’re still alive!”
There are a lot of machines I don’t think should travel at 250 km/h over a blind crest – and the Range Rover Sport Supercharged is my favourite one. On the track, the performance from the brakes, the size-defying flatness to the handling and the gurgling, rich acceleration demonstrated by pro driver guy sought to prove the brand’s promise with the new Range Rover Sport: this is the most dynamic Land Rover yet.
Partly, that’s thanks to a variety of advanced functionalities at work in the suspension and stability control systems that help defy the machine’s size, weight, and inherent top-heaviness. And though it’s remarkably comfortable at far-higher-than-advisable speeds, you could use this ute to haul your boat out of the lake, go camping, or haul the wife, kids and dogs off to the cottage.
Admittedly, nobody opening their cheque book on one of these newly available, potentially six-figure 4×4’s is going to hit a track to snipe apexes, vapourize brake pads and squeal tires as corners disappear in the rearview. But, the point of the whole event was to impress some of the brand’s most loyal and promising customers via demonstration of extreme driving conditions.
I’m not one of those loyal or promising customers. I shop at WalMart, and my favorite restaurant has a ninety-nine-cent menu. But I got to join the party anyhow.
Also on hand from Britain to impress the VIPs? The spunky new F-Type. This two-seat roadster is the first truly pure sports car Jaguar has built in ages – and you’ve probably heard a thing or two about its available supercharged V8 and the exhaust note that goes with it. That sound, which accompanies the better part of 500 horsepower, forms a mental image of God ripping the atmosphere in half with a Gatling gun. I can’t comment on the driving experience – as a damaged tire put this unit out of commission before your writer got his spin around the track.
Jaguar F-Type. Click image to enlarge
But a few laps with another pro driver guy sitting shotgun in the standard F-Type (V6, supercharged, 340 horsepower), made me wonder how anyone could wish for more jam. You feel a lot of different things in this F-Type variant with velocities cranked past 150 km/h around some bends – including confidence that the thing is eager to go where you point it, that the brakes will scrub velocity in a jiff, and that there’s plenty of grip for the stability control system to make subtle corrections with if you screw up.