£96,900 Price range
The Range Rover SVR is the first mass-production vehicle to emerge from Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations department and it has been built to contend with the best fast SUVs from Germany. Models such as the new Porsche Cayenne Turbo S (562hp), BMW X5M (567hp) and the Mercedes ML 63 AMG (536hp).
Power comes from the same supercharged 5.0-litre petrol V8 fitted to the Jaguar F-Type R coupe and the XF-RS. It’s good for 542bhp; enough to fling the heavyweight Range Rover Sport towards the horizon at an alarming rate. As a result, the SVR can get from 0-62mph quicker than a Porsche 911 Carrera 2, while simultaneously emitting the kind of V8 rumble that sends even hardened tree huggers scrambling for cover.
Sadly, the running costs that come with making such a big car move so quickly could also scare off the odd enthusiast, although if you can afford to buy an SVR you’ll probably be able to run one, too.
To beat its rivals – especially the surprisingly nimble Cayenne Turbo S – the SVR also needs to handle in the twisty bits. To do it, the standard car’s suspension has been retuned and firmed up, although some of the standard Sport’s cosseting ride quality has been lost in the process.
Although there are no go-faster stripes, a gapping front spoiler, extended roof spoiler, quad exhaust pipes and unique badges make the SVR easy to distinguish from one of the more run-of-the-mill Sport models.
The inside has changed only a little, with sport seats in the front and extra bolstering for the outer seats on the rear bench. The latter means there’s now only really space for two passengers and (unlike the rest of the range) the SVR does without a pair of extra seats in the boot.
That aside, and given the performance on offer, the SVR is a surprisingly practical car. Its tall body gives the driver an excellent, commanding view of the road ahead and makes for a roomy cabin, with a big boot. Excellent off-road ability is a given, too.
As expected from a Range Rover (especially one that retails at nearly £100,000), the SVR has an excellently appointed interior, with a good chunk of the cabin’s trim pieces being crafted from aluminium or high-quality leathers.
The sporty Range Rover adopts the same minimalist dashboard design as its full-sized Range Rover brethren, which means many of the car’s systems are controlled using buttons mounted on the steering wheel, or through the large (if slightly clunky) TFT touchscreen. The latter would benefit from a touchpad system (as seen in the Audi Q7) that would make it easier to operate on the move.
Being the sportiest Range Rover that Land Rover currently makes, the SVR comes with several bespoke features – a highlight being the leather, body-clamping sports seats that are both supportive and extremely comfortable.
If there’s one downside, it’s that the seat space is considerably down on the Range Rover Sport SVR in comparison with the standard models – the heavily bolstered outer rear seats make the already narrow centre spot almost unusable for adults, although there’s a third seatbelt there for anyone willing to give it a go. Unlike the regular Sport, the SVR cannot be specified with a pair of spare seats that fold out of the boot floor for occupants number six and seven.
Despite being the most performance-focused model that Land Rover currently produces, the SVR isn’t substantially different to the regular Range Rover Sport in terms of day-to-day driving. The beefed-up suspension and larger wheels (21 inches as standard, with 22-inch wheels fitted with performance tyres optional) do result in a slightly firmer ride and a bit more tyre noise. Nevertheless, the SVR is still a very well-composed car that works well on the open road.
Let it stretch its legs, however, and the SVR turns into a noticeably different car from the standard model. The firmer suspension and 40kg weight saving over the standard Sport result in a car that, although not quite as responsive as a Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5M, does drive with the kind of precision that’s highly at odds with its size!
The SVR may have been tuned for the fast life on road, but it’s just as capable off it – as you’d expect of a Range Rover. Even on the summer-spec tyres fitted to test cars, it seems the SVR’s endless honing on the infamous Nurburging circuit hasn’t had an impact on its greenlaning credentials. In short, the SVR would leave an BMW X5M for dead were the two to venture off-road. The SVR comes with a whole array of gizmos for driving off-road, ranging from hill descent control to a Terrain Response system that comes with preset settings for a range of different driving conditions, making the car easy to drive off-road even for novices.
The SVR comes with only one engine: a 5.0-litre, 542hp supercharged petrol V8 that’s essentially the same unit found in top-of-the-line Jaguar performance models, such as the F-Type R Coupe.
Unsurprisingly for a car that weighs 2.3 tons, the SVR isn’t as brisk as Jaguar’s aforementioned sports coupe. That said, it’s still phenomenally quick for a car of this size – 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds, and the SVR will gallop on to a limited top speed of 162mph. It may have a relatively modest 39hp power hike on the standard car, but testers report the difference to feel more significant than the raw figures suggest, with more enthusiasm throughout the rev range. Many critics have praised the engine’s phenomenal torque delivery (a whole 502lb ft of the stuff from just 2,500rpm). They also love the fruity exhaust note that transforms into a raging snarl when the valves open in the active exhaust.
Fuel economy – you’ll be unsurprised to learn – isn’t particularly impressive, with Land Rover claiming the SVR will only return 22mpg. That said, buyers who can afford this car will most likely be able to stomach the fuel bill, and it’s worth pointing out the standard petrol V8 Sport is no better.
As with the Range Rover Sport model on which it’s based, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR has yet to be officially given a crash-test rating by Euro NCAP.
Judging by the five-star score given to its bigger brother, the full-sized Range Rover (which shares the same basic architecture), it’s likely the SVR would receive an excellent safety rating. This is due to the sheer amount of safety tech available on the car – along with a full complement of airbags, the Range Rover Sport SVR has stability control, traction control and emergency brake assist systems as standard.
With an asking price of £93,450, the SVR is comfortably the most expensive member of the Range Rover Sport family – costing nearly £10,000 more than the standard petrol V8 model.
Unlike the regular Sport, though, the SVR is actually keenly priced with its arch rivals – the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, for instance, is marginally more expensive at £93,574.
Standard equipment levels are also on a par with what you’d find on similarly-priced performance SUVs, with a high-end Meridian sound system, a leather interior and sat-nav being fitted to every SVR that rolls out of the factory.
A vast array of optional extras are also available, with some (such as £900 four-zone climate control) worth it if you have the money, while others are less appealing. A £1,500 carbon fibre engine cover falls squarely into the latter bracket, in our humble opinion.
The SVR may not be quicker than the Porsche Cayenne S, but in this case that doesn’t seem to matter.
Land Rover has taken the already likeable Range Rover Sport and added a healthy dose of character, centred around its wonderful V8 engine. It will cost the earth to run, but if you can afford the huge bills the Range Rover Sport SVR is about as practical as fast cars get.
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