I drove the brand new Range Rover Sport with a mild hybrid engine for a weekend away, which is now available in South Africa. It comes in a six-cylinder 3.0L petrol engine and a choice of two outputs, the P360 and P400.

Image credit: Saaleha

The Range Rover Sport has an electric supercharger powered by a 48V system to increase responsiveness and reduce turbo lag. According to the company, it is able to spool fully in just 0.5 seconds at up to 6,500rpm to maximum boost pressure.

The design of the mild hybrid engine optimises performance and fuel economy and reduces emissions. It is based on the new Start-Stop system, and when paired with boosted engine, it lets the car harvest energy while it is decelerating and stores it in the 48V battery. It is then re-used through torque-assist, which then reduces CO2 emissions by reducing the workload on the engine.

Driving on the N3, you know there are gonna be loads of trucks heading towards KZN. The 48V boost helped on many occasions to overtake, which my passengers also enjoyed experiencing as it makes a noticeable difference. FYI, it is not a plug-in hybrid where you charge it like the Range Rover PHEV I experienced earlier this year.

The P360 mild-hybrid (MHEV) has an output of 265kW/495Nm of torque, available in S, SE and HSE specifications. The P400 Sport HST (294kW/550Nm) has unique specs fitted exclusively for this variant and a special trim.

The P360 model delivers a claimed fuel economy of 9.2L/100km and is capable of doing 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds. However, the P400 does 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 225km/h.

My experience with the Range Rover Sport

Land Rover SA loaned me the vehicle for a weekend away as it was fresh in the fleet and worked out for my dates. My first impressions was the sense of familiarity with the brand; the luxurious finishes, ample space both in front and passenger seats, and a massive boot space.

The latter was a deep boot, which made all the difference for a weekend away carrying at least 5 adults’ luggage and then some. Our trip was around 3-3.5 hours one way, so it was comfortable and spacious throughout for leg stretches etc. The car also has a panoramic sunroof.

The interior is in line with what we saw when the Velar launched; everything is touchscreen except for the temperature dials. It has an infotainment screen on top, and then beneath it the controls for vehicle, seats, climate, etc. It is simple and intuitive; you don’t need to feel intimidated by navigating the features. If you can use a smartphone, you will be at ease with the controls.

It also has 2x standard USB ports in the front, and lots of charging points at the back, with separate temperature controls. It wasn’t as kitted out with USB ports like the Defender, but it was more than enough for our needs.

One of my favourite features in the vehicle was an actual fridge/cooling compartment. It is located in the front between the two seats where your arm would rest. I don’t know if it sounds weird but I brought back quail eggs from my weekend on the farm and it was just perfect to store them on the way back to Johannesburg. And judging by some of the replies I received on social media, people wanted the car just for the fridge.

The car also comes standard with an Activity key, which looks like a fitness tracker that you wear on your wrist (I’ve seen it on other models). It is suitable for swimmers and surfers who need to go into the water but don’t have a safe place for the actual vehicle key; nifty for the adventure junkies.

It is a refined vehicle, and I found it comfortable to drive. It had the various driving modes you’d expect to see on a Land Rover but my route was just basically to and from a mostly paved road. We were taken off-road in another vehicle as part of the accommodation. So I didn’t have the opportunity to push it to its limits as such.

Image credit: Saaleha

The 48V boost certainly helped being on the N3 with trucks everywhere and when you needed to overtake during a gap you were given. I made use of the speed limit feature to try not get caught on the speed cameras but it was the first time I took to the roads where speed averages are calculated; oops.

My passengers enjoyed the car; especially the comfort of the back seats. The middle backrest folds down to bring out cup holders and some storage for the back. All these features came in handy for the road trip.

Image credit: Saaleha

The Range Rover Sport I had was silver, which was perfect for me; I didn’t want to draw attention to myself on the road. I did receive a comment on Instagram that the car is dated in its design. I personally feel that driving a Range Rover is not about the design specifically. It is first and foremost a status symbol. It’s the car you buy when you want people to know you’ve moved up in life.

Anyway, that said, that is why I liked the familiarity of it. A bold design change could go either way; people are gonna love or hate it. I think it’s still in line with the rest of the line-up. Speaking about bold design changes, as you know, I LOVE the new Defender! But I’ve also seen people say it looks like other Land Rovers now. You can’t please everyone.

Range Rover Sport Pricing

The Range Rover Sport P360 starts at R 1 369 000 (available in S, SE, HSE)
The Range Rover Sport P400 starts at R 1 874 600 (available in HST)