Next-gen Range Rover Sport (Hybrid) road testing begins [Update]

Real-world testing of the next-gen Range Rover Sport is underway, and prototypes have been put on public roads in Britain and Germany. The new Range Rover Sport could arrive about a year after the 2022 Range Rover, with the grand unveiling around the end of this year. Featured is a spy shot passed on by ace carspotter and TopElectricSUV supporter Wilco Blok (Instagram: @wilcoblok).

Design

Evidence gathered from test mule sightings like Wilco Blok’s suggests that the Range Rover Sport will yet again assume the role of the Range Rover’s close sibling. The proportions and signature design cues would be retained. Progress will be evolutionary, although that’s exactly what loyal customers would seek in the subsequent model generation.

Spy media of the next-gen Range Rover Sport’s front-end indicates a slightly curvy headlamp, which does not conform to the new Range Rover design language. Perhaps the disguise is purposely planted to guard the final design, but the finishing is way too realistic to call these provisional headlamps.

The radiator grille’s frame and inserts look identical to the bigger model. On the sides, the visibly short overhangs are clear indicators of the test mule being the Range Rover Sport. At the rear, the quad tailpipes suggest that we’re probably looking at the SVR variant. Another difference, though not as clearly visible in these images, could be a stronger tapering of the D-pillars on the Sport, a design feature that may remind some of the Range Rover SV Coupe that was not mass-produced.

Safety

JLR is testing the 2023 Range Rover Sport with a mysterious circular object on the roof, and according to our friends at autoevolution, it is likely a LiDAR. Chances are that it is a new-generation LiDAR that is more compact and coming from German engineering company Bosch. Bosch says that its first long-range LiDAR sensor “is indispensable” for SAE Level 3, 4, and 5 autonomous driving functions. It can work in both long and close ranges, and thus, it is suitable on highways and in the city.

Interior

More extensive changes could be seen on the inside, although JLR designers may repeat the classical SUV elements like the four-spoke steering, a chunky dashboard, vertical AC vents, and so on. In one of the prototypes, Auto Express reader Peter Siu spotted a large central screen, which could be the 2022 Range Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment system that uses a 13.1-inch unit.

Platform & Powertrains

The RR Sport will be underpinned by the new MLA (Modular Longitudinal Architecture) platform. The MLA supports full electrification, and with a Range Rover EV already confirmed for launch in 2024, a Range Rover Sport EV should follow by mid-decade.

The 2022 Range Rover is available with multiple electrified powertrains, and most of them could be inherited by the 2023 Range Rover Sport. Expect a wide range of 3.0-litre six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines with mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid electrification options. The plug-in hybrid powertrains may pack a 31.8 kWh battery pack like in the flagship model, in which it provides a pure electric range of up to 100 km (62 miles).

The Range Rover Sport EV should borrow the BMW i5 and BMW i7’s EV technology, says a report from Auto Express. JLR and BMW Group collaborated to develop new-generation Electric Drive Units (EDUs) in June 2019. An EDU consists of the EV’s motor, transmission, and power electronics together in a single housing.

BMW Group led the development of the shared EV technology, and it commercialized this technology first. We’re talking about the fifth-gen eDrive or “Gen 5 eDrive” that debuted in the BMW iX3 in 2020. The BMW iX and BMW i4 adopted the same in 2021. While sixth-gen eDrive is under development, it’s likely going to debut in the German automaker’s next-gen EVs, the Neue Klasse models coming from 2025. JLR wants to launch its Range Rover EV in 2024, and we assume the Range Rover Sport EV would follow quickly after. So, it’s likely to use the current, fifth-gen technology only. eDrive includes the EV’s batteries, too, but we’re yet to know whether JLR plans to borrow them, too.

Price & Release Date

The next-gen Range Rover Sport could arrive in the U.S. market as the 2023 Range Rover Sport, likely in the second half of the year. JLR updated the current-gen model in the country for MY2022 in June 2021. With the MY2022 update, it discontinued the plug-in hybrid variant, and according to a report from CarBuzz, the reason is the semiconductor chip shortage, which is creating supply chain issues. It is safe to assume that the plug-in hybrid variant will return to the U.S. market in the next generation. We expect the company to offer the next-gen Range Rover Sport as a PHEV right from launch.

The next-gen Range Rover Sport’s prices could start at around USD 72,000.

Jaguar Land Rover electrification strategy

JLR is not planning an EV blitz like Volkswagen Group’s luxury brands, and it will gradually create a formidable EV line-up by the middle of the decade. Six Land Rover EVs (incl. Range Rover EVs) are in the pipeline, all due by 2026.

Addressing shareholders in the 76th Tata Motors Annual Report, Thierry Bollore, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover, said:

Reimagine will see us journey towards net-zero carbon by 2039. Both our brands will be transformed by electrification, with six new all-electric Land Rover models in the next five years and Jaguar completely reimagined as a pure electric brand, from 2025.

Thierry Bollore, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover (76th Tata Motors Annual Report)

Jaguar will transition into a pure electric luxury brand by mid-decade, and from then on, it will clash with fewer Land Rovers for a clear distinction between the brands. JLR’s long-term goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its products, operations, and supply chain by 2039.

Featured Image Source: Samantha Thornton