I was in Dubai for an exclusive preview of the third-generation Range Rover Sport, and here's what I discovered.
For over five decades the Range Rover has set the standard when it comes to SUV luxury and capability and near the end of last year, the fifth-generation was unveiled to the world, having spent five years in the hands of their designers and engineers.
Meanwhile, somewhere across the hall in Solihull, England, the third-generation Range Rover Sport was also being designed - and according to them, what they've produced is 'the most dynamic and capable Range Rover Sport ever'.
The Range Rover Sport was initially introduced in 2005, the first of a brand-new vehicle segment. It immediately set the benchmark in terms of design and refinement with a sporty edge: modern and dramatically proportioned design combined with power and performance to achieve ultimate desirability. It's this successful blueprint that has been accentuated in this third-generation.
Behind it all sits four key principles. The Range Rover's stance must be poised and offer a feeling of power; it must be well-planted; it must have short front and rear overhangs; and of course, be incredibly desirable.
When it comes to design, the new Range Rover Sport is clean, modern and confident, showcasing a gently accelerated roofline, an uninterrupted shoulderline and an upward shooting beltline that have been drawn to converge way off in the distance.
The front offers maximum width with extended surfaces, such as the lower valance and air vents - Range Rover are calling this a 'body to wheel' principle. The lights are narrower and come with 1.3 million micromirrors that shadow and block out up to 16 different objects and offer up to 500m of clear visibility. There's a new corporate grille too that sits neatly under the Range Rover Sport's clamshell bonnet.
The Sport's profile is more dynamic, yet flush and reductive, with a contrast roof featuring a spoiler that elongates the look of the SUV. It has strong supportive pillars with a hidden 'D' post, smaller mirrors, flush door handles and soft-closing doors. The waist line is hidden but there's a V-groove feature line the designers are very proud of. On top of that, in what Range Rover are calling 'body to glass' or 'glass to gloss', all window rubber has been reduced and the gap between window and door is just 6mm, creating an optimal body-to-glass relationship.
The rear is visually wider and as with the front, the lower bumper ventures out to the side to increase the Sport's 'wheel to body' relationship. The tail lamps are horizontal in appearance with new technology and surface LEDs (like OLED TV) that shine in a super bright red colour. And topping off the design, there's a quad exhaust on the V8 model (none on the D6).
The Range Rover Sport's reductive design is focused on aerodynamics. With the SUV boasting a drag coefficient cd of 0.29, this reductive design philosophy carries on inside with a modernistic and sophisticated cabin that's loaded with technology.
The leather seats offer up a commanding driving position with a strong rising interior shoulder for elevated momentum and emotionally charged driver engagement. The dash and console areas are uncluttered, underlining Range Rover's subtle and restrained approach.
They say it's ultra quiet when on the move too, with mics in each wheel arch to counter road noise, noise reduction speakers in the headrests and the engine sound is modulated. Plus for those with allergies, the cabin's air purification is handled by Nanoe X.
There's a 13.1-inch floating infotainment haptic screen with the latest Pivi Pro system and Alexa connectivity. Within 'two clicks' you can get to the feature or app you're looking for. Meridian provides the sounds with a 1430 watts stereo played through 29 speakers. Mirror View offers an uninterrupted view of the rear and the 13.7-inch driver's display gives the driver all the personalised information they would ever want or need.
USB and C points are a given, as is wireless charging and an embedded SIM, and the new Range Rover Sport will even remote park.
On the road, this new Range Rover is sporting luxury with attitude. The Chassis is 35 percent stiffer and now at sportscar levels. It has dynamic air suspension, dual volume springs and twin valve dampers to reduce pitch and roll.
The active rear is differential and intelligent. AWD will direct all the SUV's torque to where it's required, there's Torque vectoring by braking and all wheel steering too, while the ICC Integrated Chassis control works at 500/second and sets up the ride based on terrain up to 3km ahead. And for those tight inner city streets, the new Sport has a 10.95 m turning circle thanks to all wheel steering.
The very best of the New Range Rover Sport's chassis systems combine in the Stormer Handling Pack - which includes Dynamic Response Pro - All-Wheel Steering, the Electronic Active Differential with Torque Vectoring by Braking and Configurable Programs. The latter provides the opportunity to personalise the driving modes, tailoring the driving experience both on and off road. All elements of this pack are standard on P510e Electric Hybrid and P530 powertrains.
It may well be assertive on the road but it's also got a commanding all-terrain capability. Range Rover's claim that this is 'the most dynamic and capable Range Rover Sport ever' is backed up by the fact that it was dramatically tested on the 17km of punishing and impossible terrain at Iceland's Spillway, with Stuntwoman Jess Hawkins behind the wheel.
The new Sport has Terrain response 2, a new dynamic mode in terrain control and six preset off road modes, with a 45-degrees max gradient. It has a wading depth of 900mm and a Tow rating of 3500kg.
All new Range Rover Sport models are fitted with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, which intuitively anticipates where traction is required, efficiently engaging to provide the most effective progress in all conditions while optimising efficiency.
There will be two PHEVs at launch (P510e and P440e). The P510e produces 510PS/700 Nm, 0-100km/h in 5.4 second and 740km range (80km EV only) with CO2 emissions of 18g/km, plus a 48v MHEV or V8 4.4L twin-turbo (530PS and 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds).
This new third-generation Range Rover Sport may have been five years in the making, but from what we saw, it's been well worth the wait. Now where are the keys?
Why you should: British reductive design, super bright tail light, luxurious ride, on-road performance and off-road capabilities. The list goes on and on.
Why you shouldn't: Tough question. Fossil-fuel may be a barrier for some, but there are PHEV models on the way and a full EV model has yet to be announced (but I'm sure there will be).
What else to consider: There are luxury SUVs, sporty SUVs and capable SUVs but not necessarily all in one package. Take a look at the X5M, Mercedes-AMG GLE, Porsche Cayenne and Maserati Levante as a starter.