The second-generation Range Rover Sport is a very different vehicle to the smart-looking but humble-feeling original. It uses the same aluminium engineering as the top-line Range Rover, rather than the Discovery, so is both more sophisticated and much lighter.
This is why the entry-level car can get away with using a 236bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, although most consider the 302bhp 3.0-litre SDV6 a more fitting route into the Range Rover Sport. Thereâ€™s a 4.4-litre V8 diesel, a 335bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol, and a range-topping V8 in either 503bhp or 542bhp guise.
You canâ€™t buy a basic Range Rover Sport, as even the HSE is lavishly equipped with 20in alloy wheels, keyless entry, perforated leather, xenon headlights, all-round heated seats and a sat nav infotainment system. Next up is HSE Dynamic, which has 21in alloys, red Brembo brakes, gloss black styling details and a more sophisticated off-road drivetrain.
Autobiography Dynamic is posh, with ventilated seats, panoramic roof, 19-speaker Meridian sound system, heated steering wheel and a 360deg camera. And the range-topping SVR is a high-performance take on the Range Rover Sport, decked out with suitably performance-focused features.
Needless to say, itâ€™s a delight to drive, particularly the popular V6 diesels that most people choose. Handling is crisp, the ride is excellent and everyone enjoys it from a high-quality, spacious and comfortable cabin that gives a luxury car ride. That itâ€™s so impressive during a high-speed cruise, a back-road thrash or an off-road trail is seriously impressive.
How much should a good one cost?
But such sophistication doesnâ€™t come cheap. You need to budget at least Â£33,000 to even get one of the earliest second-generation Range Rover Sport from 2014. Mileages will be higher than normal too â€“ if you want something more average, raise your budget to Â£35,000-Â£37,000. And Â£40,000 is what you need for a good choice of 2015 cars; the fast V8s start from Â£50,000.
Running costs will be high, too. Granted, fuel economy of the 2.0-litre diesel is impressive, at nearly 47mpg, and even the V6 diesel will average 40mpg. Insurance costs will be high though, with even the basic Range Rover Sport starting at group 44. Servicing is pricey as well, although official Land Rover dealers do help here with a range of multi-year service packs.
Then thereâ€™s reliability. Land Rover has a very poor reputation here, and the Range Rover Sport actually finished bottom of the large SUV category in a recent major reliability survey. A staggering 60% of owners reported problems, and not minor ones, either: gearbox, engine, suspension and drivetrain failures were all mentioned, and some cars were off the road for more than a week as a result.
Other problem areas include engine electrics, air conditioning, sat nav and even bodywork. The engine can leak, the sunroof can leak and even the tailgate can leak. Luckily, thereâ€™s a lot of support out there, and the three-year warranty (or official used car warranty, if you buy from a Land Rover dealer) should cover the cost of rectification, but itâ€™s still worth bearing in mind: chances are your used Range Rover Sport wonâ€™t be a reliable machine.
For many owners, though, even this isnâ€™t enough to detract them from their Range Rover Sport. The appeal of the model outweighs it â€“ because itâ€™s such a desirable vehicle thatâ€™s such a joy to drive. Overall, our pick is the SDV6, as there are loads on the used market. Seek out an entry-level HSE and youâ€™ll get all you need as standard without paying a fortune. And end up with a very enviable vehicle that will be the talk of your street.