Matt Joy reviews the bonkers new Range Rover SVR – a rocketship disguised as a performance SUV.
If a regular Range Rover Sport isn’t enough for you – and judging by the number of modified ones you see, it clearly isn’t for many people – then you might want to get yours tweaked. Land Rover has decided to get in on the act itself and create the SVR. This, the first product of Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations outfit, takes a Supercharged Sport model and turns up the wick.
There’s 21-inch wheels as standard with 22s as an option, a pumped-up bodykit with more vents, flares and wings, even more power and subtle tweaks to the dampers and electronics to give a sportier ride. The version as tested added the bigger wheels, carbonfibre engine cover, soft door close, surround camera view and adaptive cruise to take it up to £101,090.
“The rear wing is probably unnecessary and the skirts make it look even less suitable for off-roading.”The orginary Range Rover Sport in standard form is hard to miss; it shares genes with the proper Range Rover but is more muscle-bound and compact. In SVR that’s taken a stage further, with huge wheels filling the arches and the bodykit just about coming within the bounds of good taste – depending on which colour you choose.
The rear wing is probably unnecessary and the skirts make it look even less suitable for off-roading, but that’s not really the point with a Sport. The fact that all this kit comes from the factory instantly gives it the edge on modified versions.
There are almost no differences in terms of space on the SVR compared to the regular Sport which is a good thing, although in the back the rear bench has been designed to accommodate two in more comfort with a smaller seat in the middle. In practice that makes sense, and the middle seat remains perfectly usable.
Elsewhere it is business as usual. Up front you have the commanding driving position, plenty of head and legroom and elbow room is generous too. The boot offers a useful 489 litres, rising to 1,761 with the seats folded.
Performance & handling
“The SVR can be loud enough to rattle any windows if you gun the engine.”With an increasing amount of crossover between Land Rover and Jaguar products a high performance Range Rover isn’t the daft idea it once might have sounded. In fact the sound tells you a great deal. When the exhaust, partly borrowed from the V8 F-Type, the SVR can be loud enough to rattle any windows if you gun the engine.
It maintains a civilised persona (bar the optional exhaust racket) when driven with restraint, and there’s not even a discernable deterioration in ride quality. The massively torquey engine means you can cruise around with complete ease, the smooth automatic taking care of the gears.
“What this car can’t do, you don’t need to”Slam your right foot down however and the beast within is unleashed. 0-62mph is despatched in a mere 4.7 seconds, but more impressive than the seemingly everlasting power is the handling performance. It’s a big car of course, but you can thread the SVR along country roads with comparative ease even when using all the performance. It’s genuinely easy to forget you’re sitting in something at first-floor height and weighing 2.3 tonnes.
We drove it on track and off-road and it performed as well as any car possibly could on such a disparate variety of conditions. What this car can’t do, you don’t need to.
Economy & environment
“Be happy with the notion that if you can afford one of these, you can afford the petrol too.”The inevitable downside of a car as rapid and fun as this comes at the pumps. The official combined figure of 21.7mpg is no doubt achievable but only if you drive as if the accelerator was made of glass, which misses the point. A diesel Range Rover Sport costs considerably less to buy as well as to run, but can’t worry supercars at the same time.
There’s only a handful of large performance SUVs and they all suffer with the same issue of needing huge engines to make heavy cars go fast, so the SVR is no different from its key rivals. Be happy with the notion that if you can afford one of these, you can afford the petrol too.
Equipment & value
The standard kit list is massive as you might expect for a car costing almost £100,000 as standard. There’s air suspension and torque vectoring, the 21-inch wheels and matching bodykit, three-zone climate control, leather seating throughout including new front sports seats and the touchscreen audio system.
The key options don’t come cheap, however. The 22-inch wheels are £2,400, the top-spec audio system is £4,000 and the very handy remote heating option is £1,000. There are some useful bargains tucked away in the price list though, like an extra-large washer bottle for £30 and a double sun visor for £50.
The Range Rover Sport SVR scores highly here, firstly on account of the excellent active safety provision; big brakes, big tyres, the electronic safety systems including Cornering Brake Control and Electronic Stability Control amongst others. Secondly the fact that it is a large and sturdy SUV means, should you be in a crash, you stand a good chance of coming out on top. Expect a full five star Euro NCAP rating.
“It’s genuinely fast and enormous fun to drive.”It’s difficult not to be impressed by the SVR, even if it is something of an ostentatious beast. It’s genuinely fast and enormous fun to drive, yet sacrifices very little in the way of comfort or usability as a result. Its biggest issues are running costs and whether it’s the kind of car you’d be happy being seen in; if it is, little else can touch it.
BMW’s X5 M is cheaper and even faster, while the ML 63 Mercedes-AMG offers similar levels of luxury and comfort. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is even more expensive but dynamically superior and a shade quicker to 62mph.