Guess it’s time to admit it: I’m a Range Rover sort of bloke, or would like to be. I love the extreme comfort, I love the cut-above positioning, I love the imperious performance, the long-distance capability and the excellent visibility.
I completely swallowed Gerry McGovern’s simple, essential design message a long time ago: to me, Range Rovers look conclusively better than other people’s SUVs. Park one between a Bentley Bentayga and a Porsche Cayenne and you’ll see how effortlessly the point is made.
But above all of that I love the Range Rover brand of refinement. Which, incidentally, is my main reason for choosing a Range Rover Sport in this category over the full-fat Range Rover. Here’s a chance to have the class-leading silence and smoothness of the main event, while saving yourself £10,000 to £20,000 off the purchase price. The hand-span of body length you save is welcome, too, as is the 80kg of mass. And I happen to prefer the Sport’s stance, although there isn’t really much in it.
Despite the use of ‘Sport’ in the name, I wouldn’t pursue this quality in my chosen spec, which would be the six-cylinder 3.0-litre plug-in hybrid version. I know there’s a BMW-supplied V8 offshoot, but choosing that would strike me as deliberately perverse in this day and age. Big SUV performance is pretty difficult to deploy at the best of times, and the PHEV has plenty of it anyway.
Better still, the PHEV has a powertrain that is either nearly or actually silent at all times. The fact that it affords 50 to 70 miles of battery-only range, depending on how you drive, means that for many of us, you might go a week or two without filling the (80-litre) fuel tank. Incidentally, providing so much battery range strikes me as being one of the Range Rover Sport’s crowning achievements.