Daniel Craig is barrelling down Broadway in the new Range Rover Sport, or so we’re told, as thousands of aggrieved New Yorkers peer at the orange NYPD barricades wondering if the President is in town and, just maybe, why he’s not driving domestic. I’m not 100 per cent convinced it really is Daniel Craig I’m watching on the screen, as the director has studiously avoided showing the actor’s craggy face, giving us just a glimpse of Craig’s trademark glare in the rear view.
But Craig really is driving the car which, wait for it… rolls right into the building, appearing on the stage in front of me just a few seconds later. Bond has missed his mark though, overshooting the rotating platform where the car is meant to be, but only just, and after all he isn’t really James Bond, is he? Actually, the way the Russian press corps is grimacing suggests that they might believe otherwise.
It’s a bombastic reveal, its adrenalin-filled soundtrack throbbing with sub bass, but it’s one that’s rendered a tad less dramatic for me as wheels has already unleashed some espionage of its own, securing me a look at the new SUV before this flashy VIP reveal — I wonder if that makes me a VVIP? Probably not, since I still don’t have the dosh to hire a ghostwriter.
The new Rangey Sport is bold and beautiful, and everyone at wheels HQ is keen to see how it performs. Alas, that’s not something I can reveal here, since the drive event is yet to come. Nonetheless, our initial sleuthing shows that this new car is full of surprises — 007 surprises to be exact.
1. The 2014 Range Rover Sport weighs about 420kg less than its predecessor. So while a 503bhp supercharged V8 engine is still on offer, and still very tempting, the new Sport can be had with a 335bhp supercharged V6 mounted in a lighter-than-ever-before super Rangey.
2. The Sport features an all-aluminium body (the fifth to be produced by Jaguar Land Rover), and shares its lightweight platform with the Range Rover. And yet, 75 per cent of the parts are unique to the Sport.
3. According to Gerry McGovern, design director for Range Rover, the base Range Rover is for royalty and the Sport is for performance-loving, er, moths: “In the bigger Range Rover, you sit on the seats, like a throne,” he explained. But in the Sport, “you sit lower, like a cocoon.”
4. You can’t help but notice the family resemblance between the new Range Rover Sport and the hugely popular Evoque. This is no accident, as the design team at Range Rover intended to give the cars an aesthetic connection, but unlike some marques, they wanted to make sure the SUVs had their own identity, and weren’t the sort of “Russian nesting dolls” offered by the Teutonic competition.
5. The Sport’s smaller steering wheel and taller centre console give the cabin the look and feel of a luxury space-liner, to the extent that we’d half expected to see Patrick Stewart at the event.
6. The Sport offers two AWD options. The heavy duty off-roading version gets a two-speed, low-range transfer case, 100 per cent locking capability and a 50:50 torque split. For urban use there’s one with a single transfer box, and splits torque 42:58 front: rear.
7. This is the first seven-seater Range Rover. Two leather seats are hidden under the boot floor, and are motor actuated, like something out of Q branch. Bond could probably stash a body back there without worrying too much about legroom and, hey, how long can it be now before the aging spy settles down?