The Range Rover
is the automotive embodiment of a distinctly upper class British sporting aesthetic, as quintessentially English and aristocratic as the country houses
dotting the verdant landscape. The luxe SUV
was introduced in 1970, expanding upon the utilitarian Land Rover
first designed by the Wilks Brothers in 1948. The preferred country conveyance of Prince Charles
and his kin, the marque continues to dominate the upper end of the SUV spectrum in the UK and abroad despite having passed out of British hands.
For 2010 the Range Rover and its rakish younger sibling, the Range Rover Sport
, were treated to a makeover
encompassing several significant engineering and design upgrades. We had a chance to ramble 'round the scenic byways of Vermont recently in the latter. At 375 hp, the normally aspirated Sport model has nearly the same power as the previous year's supercharged version, capable of 0 - 60 mph in 7.2 seconds (just 0.1 seconds off the pace of the outgoing supercharged unit).
The Sport's smooth, refined, responsive performance and good looks mark it as a thoroughbred in all respects. For 2010 the exterior has a somewhat cleaner, more sculpted appearance. LED headlamps combine with a new two-bar grille, front bumpers and fenders to create a more sporting, aerodynamic, low-slung stance. At the rear, new light clusters and a revised bumper design mirror the smoother front-end. The interior has been comprehensively redesigned as well, using higher quality materials and finishes.Leather
is used extensively on major surfaces, in a wider choice of colors. To create a more sporting feel, rich dark shades "sandwich" narrow sections in lighter tones, completed by a generous selection of stylish wood finishes. There are luxurious new seats front and rear, which feature a deeper, more sculpted shape. A new adaptive sport mode provides more aggressive shift points and "learns" an individual driver's style to provide more appropriate responses to throttle inputs
. The supercharged model now comes with F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel as well.
The fascia-mounted touch-screen system houses a new hard-drive navigation system while a new portable audio interface also allows connectivity to an array of personal audio storage devices, USB sticks and iPod
s. A new Surround Camera System features five digital cameras which relay a near 360-degree view to the touch-screen display. You can even zoom in. And one of our favorite new features is the automatic High Beam Assist technology, which turns them on and off as needed, detecting preceding and approaching traffic. Perfect for those country roads at night.