2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Bowmanville, Ont. – After several years of quiet updates from Jaguar and Land Rover since being bought by Tata, the British brands are beginning to come out of their cocoons. The first volley was arguably the Evoque, a sexy, nimble little city ute launched in 2011, bringing Land Rover firmly into the modern age. On the Jag side, the thoroughly modern XJ’s styling finally matches its all-aluminum construction, and the darling F-Type is a sign of things to come, a lower point of entry with purposeful performance and all the charms this old-world brand has to offer.

The ball is really rolling now, and hot on the heels of the kingpin Range Rover comes the Ranger Rover Sport from the Land Rover brand. As sexy as the F-Type looks and sounds, it is SUVs like the Evoque and this Range Rover Sport that are selling like Royal Baby souvenirs these days.

The Sport is based on the same weight-saving aluminum frame as the granddaddy Range Rover, and adds the option of an extra row of seats despite being 14 cm (about six inches) shorter in length. The Sport is more of an everyman vehicle now, as stylish as the Range Rover, but almost as practical as the LR4. However, let’s just get this out of the way: the LR4’s third row is far more useful and spacious than the Sport’s, which has only inches between the seat bottom and floor and barely any foot room. While it may be of limited use, it sure doesn’t hurt much to carry it around and the 5+2 seating is optionally available on any trim.

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Click image to enlarge

We had a chance to experience the Range Rover Sport at a recent Jaguar Land Rover experience at and around the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. Our time in the Sport was all too brief, so we’ve arranged for a full test drive in winter (it was my Christmas-wish car), but this is a good chance to go over its options and relate its off-roading credentials.

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Click image to enlarge

You see, while our time in the Sport was short, it was spent mostly at bizarre angles with the forward view out of the windshield the bottom of a ditch or open sky, and then we topped that off with a quick hot lap of Mosport. I have only once been on terrain more challenging than this admittedly constructed course, and that was in a Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition. Aside from dedicated off-roaders like the Wrangler and FJ Cruiser, you can count the number of factory vehicles capable of tackling terrain like this on your fingers (okay, maybe you’d need your toes, too…), and none of them would be able to cross over onto the track and fling four of your friends around at 200+ km/h (and live, that is). Off-road, there were times when the vehicle was at more than a 30-degree tilt angle on its side, windows almost rubbing against the side of the ditch, our camera bags rolling around on the back seat as we chuckled and scratched our heads.

Chances are, if you need to get somewhere, this truck can get you there. Granted, if you go out hunting for rock walls and mud bogs on your weekend, you might want to consider something more purpose-built, but really, you’re pretty much covered for any campsite or remote cottage trail you can find on a map, and many beyond the reach of your typical nav system.

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