Land Rover, citing the New York area’s market as its largest in the world for its Range Rover Sport SUV, brought an all-new version to the 2013 New York International Auto Show on Tuesday night.
Designed as an amalgamation of the compact Evoque crossover and the full-size Range Rover -- the unofficial minivan of Beverly Hills -- the Sport draws design cues from both.
The second-generation Sport is 2.5 inches longer and rides on a wheelbase that’s 7 inches longer than its five-passenger predecessor. This allows Land Rover to squeeze in a third row of seats in the back of the 2014 model, which fold flat when not in use. But before you start planning a road trip with six of your buddies, note that the company makes it clear that these seats are “designed for occasional use” (meaning children).
Photos: 2014 Range Rover Sport makes world debut
Despite this growth, Land Rover says the Sport went on a diet similar to the one endured by the larger Range Rover that debuted in 2012. The automaker says the new Sport is around 800 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Much of this massive weight savings came from switching the steel unibody mounted to a separate chassis to a single, all-aluminum unibody setup.
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Land Rover said it was also able to shave weight by using aluminum in the doors, sub-frames, and various components. Such a dramatic weight loss will undoubtedly help the Sport’s fuel economy, though Land Rover didn’t disclose mpg expectations.
Also helping save gas is a new eight-speed automatic transmission that replaces the older models’ six-speed unit, an engine start/stop function, and regenerative charging for the electrical system.
The Sport will come with one of two engines. The base V-8 of the previous model is gone, replaced by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that makes 340 horsepower. Despite having less power than the older base V-8 models, the substantial weight savings mean the new V-6 model is faster. This Sport SE will start at $63,495, which is about a $2,000 increase.
A 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 -- good for 510 horsepower -- will be optional. Again, the weight savings pay dividends in this vehicle’s speed; Land Rover says the 5-second zero to 60 mph time of the 2014 Sport Supercharged is almost a full second faster than the earlier version. Supercharged models will start at $79,995.
Despite the overt acknowledgment that the Range Rover Sport is favored by a metropolitan buyer, Land Rover insists it is plenty capable, should an owner deign to get it dirty.
A Terrain Response 2 system will automatically choose from one of five settings, each of which alters the response of the engine, transmission, differentials and the air suspension. The five settings are default, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand and rock crawl. The standard air suspension also has two ride heights, should your trek to the Hamptons encounter particularly heinous terrain.
The Range Rover Sport’s debut came just hours after Land Rover’s sister company, Jaguar, announced a pair of ultra-fast versions of existing cars. The 550-horsepower XJR will look to challenge Audi’s S8 and Mercedes-Benz’s S63 AMG, while the track-oriented, 550-horsepower XKR-S GT coupe is the most ferocious street-legal version of the XK coupe the company now offers.
Jaguar Land Rover is wholly owned by Tata Motors. The Indian company is coming off a strong year of sales in 2012, in which it enjoyed a 30% boost in vehicles sold compared with 2011. China became Jaguar Land Rover’s biggest customer base in 2012, followed by Britain and then the U.S.