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September 19, 2013

Test-Drive: The New Range Rover Sport

By Frank Vizard | Automobiles

Test-Drive: The New Range Rover Sport
Couretsy of Range Rover

In a remote, mountainous spot in Wales called the Brecon Beacons, a miles-long stretch of public road runs through a military training ground. At its gate you are advised to stay on the asphalt at all times due to the risk of unexploded ordnance. Behind the wheel of the new 2014 Range Rover Sport ($63,495–$93,295; landroverusa.com)—a vehicle capable of handling any challenging terrain, Welsh or otherwise—the admonition is a bit frustrating. (All the more so since the hundreds of sheep that dot the surrounding landscape seem heedless of any danger.) Testament to the Range Rover’s quiet cabin interior, we didn’t hear the rifle shots from the firing range until we rolled down the windows.

Our foray into Wales began across the English border in Cheltenham—in the center of the Cotswolds—at the charming Ellenborough Park hotel and spa (Southern Rd.; 44-12/4254-5454; ellenboroughpark.com), a centuries-old estate that opened as a hotel in 2011. While Cheltenham is a busy town, our crossing into central Wales revealed a remote and rural landscape. The 2014 Sport, which seats five (plus two more in third-row seating if in a pinch), turned the daylong drive into a comfortable excursion. We climbed hills and gently descended the steepest grades thanks to a Terrain Response 2 system that automatically adjusts to varying road conditions, even when the track is submerged. Once in Wales, we fortified with tea and delicious Welsh cakes at The Bell at Skenfrith (Monmouthshire; 44-16/0075-0235; skenfrith.co.uk), a lovely inn where all the food is locally sourced.

You can choose from a supercharged V-6 or V-8 engine, but in general the bold-looking Sport is faster and more agile than its predecessor, due in large part to an all-aluminum chassis that shaves 813 pounds from the total weight. It made for a quick ride back to Cheltenham and the superb Montpellier Chapter hotel (Bayshill Rd., Montpellier; 44-12/4252-7788; themontpellierchapterhotel.com), where some ground-floor rooms have a “00” designation—fitting since actor Daniel Craig (aka James Bond in last year’s Skyfall) was employed to help introduce the car at its New York debut earlier this year.