When presenting an iconic English brand such as Range Rover, destination and experience are always a big piece of the puzzle. Obviously an elevated experience is key, however weaving the appropriate storytelling thread using a destination that runs in stark contrast to its British roots requires equal parts tact and creativity — something the brand’s PR and comms team generally has down to a science.
For this latest global launch of the Range Rover Sport and Hybrid Electric models, we found ourselves in the heart of Madrid, resting our heads at the freshly opened Madrid Edition hotel before getting behind the wheel. The Spanish cultural capital is steeped in history, having long been the hub for Spanish royals in centuries past. That said, experiencing Madrid is not about experiencing a time capsule; the city’s bustling streets are filled with some of the best dining, shopping, and nightlife experiences in the country. This blend of modern and historical culture is a big part of Madrid’s charm, as is the fact that it’s far more of a “locals” city than Barcelona. Madrid is not a city of see-and-be-seen, but rather a city of if you know, you know.
Much like our destination, Range Rover—while suitably opulent—is equally subtle with its approach to design and presentation. In its most sporting form, and even when presented in a vibrant red paint scheme as our fleet was, the Range Rover Sport is a far cry from the loud and aggressive stance of its competitors. By modern standards, few automotive bands these days are executing this kind of polished, clean-lined design, and quite frankly it’s refreshing to see in 2022. The brand knows it’s an SUV, and isn’t trying to make it seem more aerodynamic than it needs to be. It’s properly quick, as it should be, yet it remains revoid of hood scoops and flared haunches. Aside from its “Sport” badge on the tailgate and four exhaust tips, nothing leads an onlooker to think this is any more than your average errand runner; in the automotive world, the term sleeper would be appropriate here.
With a price of entry north of $100k, Range Rover spared no expense when reworking the Sport’s interior for 2023. Rich leathers and sculpted details abound, its interior design boasts the same sleek minimalism as found on its outer shell. Active noise cancelling within the cabin means a near silent ride, with a metered dose of engine noise coming through to remind you of the power that lurks under the hood. Its new infotainment platform runs via a high-definition touchscreen display, allowing driver and passenger to control audio, climate, and the much-loved seat massage functions. Being a Range Rover, the screen also provides access to the diverse controls for traction and safety, including its 3D Surround Camera system to get you out of narrow passageways, and its Terrain Response system — should you venture off of paved roads.
On the topic of technology, there’s more to the mix as you step from the V8-powered Sport to the Sport Electric Hybrid. Fully electric mode delivers a range of up to 113 kilometres, with the ability to charge up to 80% battery life on a rapid charger in under an hour. In addition, the Sport Hybrid Electric boasts a unique feature that may well become relevant in the Canadian market in the years to come. When mapping a route into what are called “low emissions zones”—city centres in Europe with emissions restrictions — the SUV will automatically detect these zones and switch the powertrain to full electric mode. It will also conserve battery power earlier in the journey to ensure that it has enough battery life to complete the journey within these zones. As it stands, Montreal has been pondering launching a similar initiative, so even though it’s “Euro only” for now, that’s destined to change.
Whether in petrol or plug-in hybrid form, Range Rover’s new Sport models deliver on both style and substance as only a legacy brand truly can, and these new models will appeal to brand fans and newcomers alike.