Range Rover shows off its capabilities in Iceland, with James Bond stunt driver Jessica Hawkins completing a dramatic world-first climb up a flooded dam in Iceland. Photos: Range Rover

What do comedian James Corden, heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua and a James Bond stunt driver have in common? Well, they were all part of the star-studded presentation Range Rover put on to launch its new Sport SUV. Parent company Land Rover chose the Middle Eastern city of Dubai for the global launch of the new model, which it promised would be like no other.

Range Rover does very well in the Middle East – and its sales are pretty strong in Asia, too. The Sport edition is one of its best-selling models and clearly a lot of time and effort has been put into updating this new, third-generation vehicle.

In fact, it has been five years in the making, which is quite a long time in the car industry. This latest model definitely looks sleeker and more muscular than its predecessor, if the launch model is anything to go by. 

A historic car

With their imposing shape, Range Rovers are big SUVs with a long history going back decades. They are known for combining off-road capabilities with luxurious interiors.

While going off-road is not an easy thing to do in Singapore (and given the lofty price tag, not advisable either) Dubai is the perfect environment given its abundance of desert tracks and unmade roads. 

But it was thousands of miles away in Iceland that Range Rover decided to show off its capabilities, with James Bond stunt driver Jessica Hawkins completing a dramatic world-first climb up a flooded dam in Iceland.

She made an epic ascent against a torrent of water (at a rate of 750 tonnes per minute) flowing down the ramp of the Kárahnjúkar Dam – the biggest of its kind in the world.

Hawkins, who worked on the recent Bond movie No Time to Die, starring Daniel Craig, said: “Driving into it, knowing that a 90-metre drop was waiting for me at the bottom of the slope if things went wrong, made this the most challenging drive I’ve ever undertaken.”

While obviously not every Range Rover Sport driver is going to head off to their nearest dam, it was an impressive show of strength from the elegant SUV. It’s the latest in a line of PR stunts the British brand has carried out when launching a new car.

Previous examples include driving a Range Rover over a bridge of paper in China to mark its 45th anniversary to using a Land Rover Discovery Sport to tow a train across a river in Switzerland. 

Powerful hybrid options

OK so these impressive stunts are not advisable for the average driver, and not very practical in the real world. However, what is impressive is the range of engine options you get – from electric hybrids to a powerful new V8 twin turbo engine.

The hybrids will usher in fully-electric Range Rovers in 2024 as it joins the global push for lower CO2 emissions across the auto industry. 

And if the current hybrid is anything to go by, Range Rover is on the right path to electrification without compromising on speed and power. The current hybrid offers smooth acceleration which can get you from 0 to 100kph in just 5.8 seconds, which is pretty quick for such a big car.

(Related: Racing couple Yuey Tan and Claire Jedrek on raising the next generation of motor sports talent in Singapore)

The new flagship 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 is a bit more powerful and accelerates from 0 to 100kph in just 4.5 seconds with Dynamic Launch engaged.

Range Rover doesn’t really attract petrol heads, but instead has a loyal army of soccer moms and dads who want safety, a high seating position and to feel ultra-comfy at the wheel of an SUV.

The new Sport comes with dynamic air suspension with switchable volume air springs – a first for Range Rover – along with twin valve active dampers that improve agility, control and overall driving performance.

Inside the car, luxury levels put the Range Rover on par with a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley. The centre console looks not just luxurious but also minimalistically-modern. It includes a 13.1-inch curved touch screen and a 13.7-inch driver display, which plugs you into the Amazon Alexa voice recognition system.

As you’d expect from a big car, its spacious inside, and you get a very practical 835-litre boot and lots of storage space that includes a refrigerator compartment that can hold four 500ml bottles. Perfect for a hot climate.

The sound system is pretty nifty too, which may be why James Corden (famous for his Carpool Karaoke sketches) decided to get involved. Plus, he also drives a Range Rover himself. There’s a high-end 29-speaker sound system, with ones even embedded into the headrests. 

Overall, the new Range Rover Sport has been worth the wait, but sadly you may need to wait just a little bit longer before you can get your hands on one. They will be built in the UK, the historic home of Range Rover, and are expected to be available in Singapore by late 2022.

(Related: How Land Rover is moving forward in the Covid-19 era)