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First drive: Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.

First drive: Range Rover Sport SVR
Supercar power, SUV body - SVR is born into a fabulous Range Rover Sport.

 



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Range Rover Sport SVR

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Driving purists, look away now - the Range Rover Sport SVR is phenomenal. Balancing all the attributes of an SUV with genuinely entertaining driving characteristics, this bonkers beast is well worth anyone's consideration. It's not cheap and hopelessly bad on fuel economy and emissions, but who cares when it goes and sounds as brilliant as this?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Range Rover Sport SVR
Pricing: from £93,450
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door SUV
CO2 emissions: 298g/km (VED Band M, £1,100 year one, £505 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 22.1mpg
Top speed: 162mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Power: 550hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 680Nm from 2,500- to 5,500rpm

What's this?

An even more powerful and dynamic version of the formerly top-ranking Range Rover Sport, the 5.0-litre supercharged petrol model with 510hp and 624Nm of torque and sporty handling characteristics - for an SUV anyway. However, the new Special Vehicles Operations (SVO) department of Jaguar Land Rover had other ideas and so here we see the birth of a new performance brand that is sure to become a mainstay of the petrolheads' world: SVR. Now running the same engine and gearbox as the ultimate 'R'-badged Jaguars, this Range Rover Sport can do 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and go on to an electronically restricted 162mph. Incredible stats for something weighing 2,335kg.

Naturally, SVO didn't just want to make some sort of goliath drag racer, so the chassis, steering, brakes and eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox have all been tweaked in the name of sportiness. While the laws of physics can never be truly overcome by these super-powerful, high-riding machines, some of them make a pretty good fist of being sports car-esque. Does the SVR join the ranks of the good in this category, or does it qualify as ugly instead?

How does it drive?

The promise of the beefy but well-judged exterior looks sets things up nicely. Quad exhausts, alloys of at least 21 inches in diameter, socking great air intakes and a contrasting Santorini Black roof work well with the exclusive SVR colour, Estoril Blue (not the old 1990s BMW M hue, but I digress), while the cabin is dominated by some luscious bucket seats. They offer a great 'semi-command' driving position and will just about accommodate the lardy (like me), but the base of the fixed head restraint can dig into your back between your shoulder blades. Also, the rear bench has been designed to ape the fronts, so this is a strict four-seater despite its size. Nevertheless, we love the Range Rover Sport Mk2 in 'normal' guise, so the SVR treatment hardly forces us into an embarrassing volte face about this particular SUV.

Lobbing some more numbers your way, Land Rover claims this thing can pull 1.3g of cornering force, the gearshift times have been cut by 50 per cent and we all know it has lapped the 'Ring in 8m 14s; there's also, if you'd care to look for it, a video of Mike Cross flinging it about Rockingham on opposite lock for the majority of the time. So the expectation that this will be a properly sorted driver's car is there from the off.

And, good grief, the unholy speed this thing can summon up in the blink of an eye hardly dissuades you of its potential on first acquaintance. Even in an era of sub-six-second to 62mph hot hatches, and a whole raft of modern AMG, M Power and RS models that could utterly embarrass a Ferrari from the 1990s, the pace of the SVR is startling. It's monstrous from a standstill, where its four-wheel drive traction and super-slick gearbox offer up kick-in-the-kidneys step-off, but floor the accelerator on the move and it really is like (forgive the cliché) engaging warp drive; albeit the USS Enterprise is probably marginally lighter than the SVR. What truly makes it so much fun, though, is the Range Rover's outrageous soundtrack. Not quite as overtly aggressive as the Jaguar F-Type R's bombastic artillery, it remains massively addictive to punt the Range Rover Sport forward at every given opportunity, because the brutal, thunderous roar of the engine is matched by delightful exhaust crackles and pops that are wholly at odds with the upright exterior styling. There are few cars of any shape and size that sound better than this.

The chassis, though, is even more impressive; this machine is a dynamic gem. On track, the SVR proves wonderfully adept, with throttle adjustability easy to access even for novice drivers like us. Chuck the big SUV into a curve, balance it up on that razor sharp right pedal, then discover that minuscule lifts or depressions of the accelerator see the rear axle change the whole car's stance instantly. It's beautifully fluid and has loads of grip, and it performs better than many lower-slung vehicles that are supposedly crisper to drive.

On the road, you're not going to want to oversteer two tonnes of truck on a regular basis, so instead its wonderful neutrality comes to the fore. The feelsome and sharp steering, the superb ZF gearbox, the epic brakes (the SVR takes some stopping the first time you approach a junction, but you soon learn the stoppers' ideal biting point on a well-modulated pedal) - all of the above makes the SVR stunningly fast point-to-point. Put it this way: on the same launch event were F-Type R Roadsters with all-wheel drive, and even with just shy of 600kg of weight advantage on their side, the Jags were struggling to drop the Range Rovers. Astonishing stuff.

Are there any drawbacks at all? Well, the image is questionable, even amongst the more well-versed quarters of the motoring community. We think that's automotive snobbery at its worst and there's no reason to miss out on the SVR's talents because of the sneering of peers. More to the point are the appalling running costs - somewhat negated by the fact that anyone rich enough to buy this thing in the first place is unlikely to worry about single-digit, on-the-pace economy returns - and an uncomfortable low-speed ride. This last facet is the only thing that truly takes the shine off for us. Second-gen Range Rover Sports usually ride marvellously so the SVR's nervous town disposition, on an active anti-roll set up and air suspension, mind, is the main fly in the ointment.

Verdict

We're docking the Range Rover Sport SVR half a star for three things: its occasionally crunchy ride, the cost of buying and running it, and the fact that - regrettably - some people will loathe you on sight if you decide to buy one. All of which makes us a bit sad, because in our hearts this is a five-star vehicle that we absolutely adore. For Land Rover to have made a hefty great lump of metal 'n' leather handle so vivaciously as this, all while (largely) keeping the prerequisite Range Rover refinement intact, is a feat of sublime engineering akin to the Millau Viaduct. That it goes like absolute stink and sounds fabulous while doing so are merely bonuses to this remarkable first SVR creation. If SVO can make a Range Rover Sport as fantastic as this, we can't wait to see what it turns its hand to next.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 3 Jun 2015









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2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.



2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 

2015 Range Rover Sport SVR. Image by Land Rover.
 






 

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