A more significant item not available on an LR3 is a supercharged engine. Debored by 2.0 mm, the 4.2-liter delivers 390 horsepower--up 90 horsepower from the 4.4--and 410 pound-feet of torque (up 95 pound-feet), 500 rpm earlier than the 4.4. Peak boost runs about 10 psi and top speed is electronically limited to 140 mph in the name of cooling, tires, and common sense.

Rover claims the supercharged model reaches 60 mph in 7.2 seconds; we hand-timed 7.4 seconds, with three people on board and 2000 feet above sea level, so we've no reason to doubt it. In a world of sub-six-second to 60-mph 'utes, this won't win any drag races (at least not those on dry ground), but the supercharged Sport feels quicker than that and brings welcome increases in midrange grunt and passing speeds. It also brings blower whine you can hear (insert silly grin) and an exhaust note that rivals the best V-8 cars and trucks.

Relative to other premium sport/utilities, the Sport HSE has the narrowest range between torque and power peaks (4000/5500); the Porsche Cayenne has the widest (2500/6000 rpm), but it and the Touareg V-8 make more horsepower than torque, and BMW's X5 4.8is prices out near a supercharged Sport, but weighs a chunk less. We suspect a Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Volvo XC90 V-8, plus the aforementioned SUVs, are quicker than the Sport to 60, and many, including a diesel Touareg, will best the supercharged Sport. A more expensive brute like the G55 AMG, Cayenne Turbo, or Touareg W12 will simply vanish and leave a forwarding address in its wake.

However, none of the above can match Land Rover's off-road heritage and would likely have a hard time keeping up without pavement to pound (we suspect the HSE-priced GX 470 with KDSS could at least give it a challenge). Since the differentials are fixed up high, making ring-gear diameter less relevant, the 1.22:1 high-range gear reduction of old Rovers is now 1:1 and low-range is 2.93:1. This steep reduction is nearly unmatched and provides a minimum crawl ratio of 43:1, better than some manual-gearbox 4x4s. With a center diff lock (and optional rear), shift-on-the-fly low range, and Rover's Terrain Response system, lack of power won't be the determining factor.

Land Rover makes no excuses about the Sport's on-road bias; performance utilities are the fast-growing segment of the SUV market. Fortunately for them, no excuses seem necessary.