Range Rover Sport P530 (2022 passenger ride) review
We ride shotgun in the 2023 Range Rover Sport on-track and off-road.
Neil Briscoe
Neil Briscoe

Published on June 28, 2022

The wonderful messy oval that is Goodwood, so beautifully restored by the Earl of March to its sixties pomp, is a fast and challenging track. The last time I drove it, I was strapped into a low-slung, agile, early-nineties Mazda RX-7.

Even in a fast, well-balanced sports car such as that, Goodwood deserves respect. Safety has been built into it these days but it's still a track with bite, and if you go into it unwary then it can take a lump out of your backside.

So, what are we to drive out of the pits and down to the fast and tricky first corner at Madgewick?

A Range Rover. Hence the odd angle at which I'm viewing the track. I've seen it before, but not sitting two feet in the air.

I'm also sat on the passenger's side. This is the new Range Rover Sport and Land Rover isn't quite ready for anyone outside the firm to drive its new baby just yet. It's happy enough to let us be shown what it can do, mind.

Phil, my driver and minder for the day, has pulled the Sport out of the pit lane and brought it to a halt on the track, amid a hazy scribble of black tyre marks. "Want to experience a great 4.5-second 0-100km/h time?" he asks. It would seem rude to refuse...

This Sport is making the unmistakably smooth, rumbly noises of something that's V8-powered, but it's not the familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8 of old. Some 26 years after Jaguar first designed it, the old 'AJV8' has been put out to pasture, but Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) didn't want to commit the cash to creating an all-new V8 at a time when it's looking to a looming all-electric future.

Happily, though, JLR had recently signed a deal with BMW to share battery and electric motor tech, so a quick phone call had a supply of BMW's brilliant 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine secured, too.

Our Range Rover Sport looks menacing in its matte grey paint finish. Parked next to the new 'full-fat' Range Rover, it looks like the larger car's not-to-be-messed-with bodyguard - all bulging muscles and eyes (OK, headlights) narrowed with suspicion.

It's not a latent menace, either. This car is not badged as an SVR - a high performance product of JLR's special vehicle skunkworks - but it is still packing 530hp and 750Nm of torque. Those are senior figures.

And the 0-100km/h time? Phil slots the car into Dynamic Mode, mashes the throttle and the Sport growls angrily, launching off the line with nary a chirrup from the wheels, slamming through the three-figure barrier as if it weren't there and powering through to almost 200km/h on the run to the braking zone at Madgewick.

Through that deceptively tricky right-hander, the Sport leans (of course it does) but not as much as you'd expect, thanks to the active anti-roll system. This presses down hydraulically on the suspension with 1,400Nm of force to keep the Range Rover's body as level as possible.

Even more impressive is how it tackles the left-hander at St Mary's. It's a tricky off-camber corner that looks inviting for overtakes when you see it from an on-board camera in one of Goodwood's historic races, but the suddenness of the direction change has caught out even the best professional drivers.

Here, the Sport flicks to the left in the manner that - to paraphrase Douglas Adams - two-storey tower blocks don't. The torque vectoring across the rear wheels plays a key role here. You can feel the car settling hard onto the right rear wheel as the computers and differentials shuffle and shunt as much power as possible to that wheel.

It's thrilling stuff, even from within the calm and comfortable cabin. You sit high on incredibly sumptuous seats and Land Rover's recent quality improvement regime seems to have worked. While the overall design hasn't changed dramatically from what went before, the surfaces all look and feel much better than they did, and the quality of fit and finish seems much improved. There's little visual difference between this Range Rover Sport cabin and that of the larger Range Rover, but you can certainly perceive the tighter dimensions - the Range Rover is 200mm wider and 50mm taller. You'd never describe the Sport as cramped, but you might think it's a touch cosy.

It's still a fully capable Range Rover though. That anti-roll system has another trick, which is that it can allow for maximum wheel articulation when off-roading. Having experienced how the Sport tackled Goodwood's tarmac corners, we make a sudden left turn, cutting across the grass and out onto the gravel and cinder perimeter road. It's not a difficult off-road section - you could gently drive it in any hatchback. We're not driving it gently though, as Phil continues to put the Sport through its paces, including a brief stop for another blast to 100km/h (slightly slower on gravel but not so's you'd notice) and a sudden flick-turn through a narrow gateway that shows off the nimbleness brought about by the new rear-wheel steering system.

Finally, we mount a section of spectator banking, dangling the Sport over at a 21-degree tilt before clambering up and over the lip of the bank and down the other side. A genteel test for a car like this, but the insouciance with which it shrugged it all off speaks of far more capability to come.

And then we're back in the pits after the oddest lap of Goodwood I've ever experienced. So, what have we learned? Well, the new Range Rover Sport is handsome, refined, comfortable and very fast indeed

This V8 version is all-but irrelevant to the Irish market (the 11.2 litres per 100km fuel consumption figure is just the starting bid, really although at least the 254g/km CO2 figure is actually a massive improvement on the old 5.0 engine's 320+ number), but the fundamental dynamics of the car seem excellent. Or at least they do from the wrong seat, with an expert doing the driving - the inevitable catch to excursions such as these.

Will that athleticism translate to the heavier plug-in hybrid models, with their 113km electric range, which will make up 92 per cent of all Irish sales? We'll have to wait and see, but at least for now I've had a chance to see Goodwood from an entirely new angle.


Tech Specs

Model testedRange Rover Sport P530 pre-production prototype
Irish pricingSport from €114,150; €227,360 as tested
Engine4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmissioneight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions254g/km
Irish motor tax€2,400 per annum
Fuel consumption11.2 litres/100km (25.2mpg)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h4.5 seconds
Max power530hp
Max torque750Nm
Max towing weights750kg unbraked, 3,500kg braked
Boot space647-1,491 litres