The Range Rover Sport V8 Supercharged Is The Best SUV On -- Or Off -- The Road

The 2014 Range Rover Sport is truly a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Its combination of off-road prowess and sports-sedan style handling is unrivalled.

Since its launch in 2005, the SUV has become one of the most successful products in Jaguar Land Rover’s long and storied history. In fact, in 2011 and 2012, all by itself the Range Rover Sport outsold the entire Jaguar brand.

Business Insider recently spent a week putting a 2014 Range Rover Sport V8 Supercharged through its paces in the urban jungle of New York City and the winding hills of upstate New York. With an as-tested price of $US92,480, our fully loaded Sport, in a stoic scotia grey, ticked virtually every box on Range Rover’s long option sheet. (The base model starts at about $US62,000.)

With a Range Rover-style body mounted on a Land Rover Discovery/LR4 chassis, the first-generation Sport was a highly successful bit of sleight of hand. However, the new Sport is built on a 100% Range Rover platform.

Here are the takeaways from our adventures.

The Sport isn't just a creature of Fifth Avenue or the Amazon. A modified version blitzed Germany's legendary Nürburgring course in just 8 minutes, 14 seconds, setting the track record for fastest production SUV.

The RR Sport also set the record for fastest production SUV at the treacherous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2013.

But at its core, the speedy Sport is still a Range Rover. Which means it is also perfectly at home conquering some of the worst terrain in the world.

Case in point: Through corners, the Sport feels rock solid but also frisky. That combination is the result of an aluminium frame that cut 800 pounds from previous generations -- without compromising a stable feel for the road.

Or roads that aren't roads anymore. But even if the weather is awful outside ...

... the interior creates a serene, soothingly luxurious environment, protecting the driver and passengers from anything nasty the world can throw at them.

Back outside, cameras mounted on all corners enable you to keep an eye on anything you may bang into, whether trees or rocks or other SUVs in parking lots. The suspension can be adjusted to improve traction, and the SUV can be set to practically drive itself down steep hills.

These features are controlled by a simple pop-up knob.

That's not enough for you? How about the fact that the Sport can handle up to 3 feet of water -- without stalling.

Sadly, U.S. Range Rovers don't get the 'Wade Sensing System' -- which uses sonar sensors to measure water depth. We're not making this up!

The 5-liter 510hp supercharged V8 serves up buttery smooth power -- and an intoxicating rumble. All that power is tamed by a beautifully efficient 8-speed automatic gearbox.

No need to fuss with a maze of menus to turn on the air conditioner. Climate control is operated using these nifty rotary dials with embedded displays.

But this is, after all, a Range Rover. Our test car displayed a 'charging system fault' just three hours after we picked it up. It was a reminder that Range Rover electronics can be finicky (it cleared up on its own, by the way).

Starting at more than $US60,000, the second-generation Range Rover Sport is no vehicle for the masses. However, if you can afford to buy one ... do!

Competitors like the BMW X5 M ...

... the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S ...

... and Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG can tear up the track like the Sport, but they are nowhere near as awesome off-road.

On the other hand, off-road specialists like the Lexus LX 570 ...

... and the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen can't match the Sport's athletic driving dynamics.

The Range Rover Sport has masterfully melded the best of both worlds into one package.

Its closest competition may be its larger sibling -- the Range Rover.

Nowhere else will you find a vehicle with the performance of a sports sedan and the off-road toughness of a Land Rover -- all while coddling its occupants in absolute luxury.

For more high-tech performance, take a look that this sexy sports sedan ...

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