GAYDON, England — Nobody needs an SUV that can haul itself around a race track in record time, but plenty of people want one all the same.
For them, Land Rover now offers a 575-hp SVR version of the Range Rover Sport. It’s not cheap – it starts at $132,000 – but it won’t embarrass you at the lights. Zero to 100 km/h takes a claimed 4.5 seconds.
There is also a 557 hp SV version of the larger and heavier Range Rover that costs $200,000, in case you want more space and opulence. It uses the same 5.0-litre supercharged V-8 engine, but the extra weight slows that SUV’s zero-to-100 km/h time to 5.4 seconds.
Most importantly, the Range Rover Sport SVR will take you around corners at least as quickly as most performance cars, and it will sound just as good through the exhaust while doing it.
More of everything
The least expensive Range Rover Sport costs $78,800 and is powered by a 340 hp V-6 engine. A diesel version with less horsepower but more torque costs $2,000 more. There’s also a more highly tuned version of the V-6, and a less highly tuned version of the V-8, and even a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version, which lists for $93,000 and will be available this summer.
It’s the SVR that tops the range, though. It makes 25 hp more than last year’s model and 516 lb-ft of torque, and it can reach an electronically limited top speed of 283 km/h. That’s of little use anywhere in Canada, but on JLR’s new test track here in the UK, the SVR reached 230 km/h before it was time to slow for the steeply banked corner. Even at that speed, the SVR felt solid and stable.
On the famously narrow country lanes of the British Cotswolds, which are heavily seeded with traffic speed cameras, there was not much opportunity to appreciate the SVR’s power or even its overtaking abilities. Britain does have an abundance of roundabouts, however, and the SVR weaved swiftly in and out of them with little drama.
The chassis and suspension are retuned to ensure both stiffness and a flat response to cornering. There’s little pitch up and down when stamping on the throttle or the brake, and the damping is apparently engineered to improve the SVR’s turn-in and mid-corner grip. When the roundabouts were clear of traffic, they acted like chicanes on the highway and the SVR had plenty of grip and stability throughout.
Just feels fast
It sounded good while doing so, too. Jaguar knows about the sound of a vehicle and the Range Rover Sport is no exception. A button on the centre console opens the baffles to give the exhaust a satisfying, guttural roar, though it’s best to close them again while driving through sleepy little villages.
JLR’s engineers at its Special Vehicle Operations division replaced the regular hood with one made from carbon fibre composite, which is significantly lighter. It’s easily recognized by the two cooling vents on the top, and if you want to pay extra for the option, there’s an exterior Carbon Fibre Package that leaves the weave exposed in the centre, so nobody’s in any doubt of what you’re driving.
Clean and functional interior
Inside, all Range Rover Sports offer the same high-resolution dual-touchscreen layout, which provides an impressive amount of control with very few buttons to clutter the dashboard and console. With so many digital switches concentrated in a relatively small area, it can be a multi-stage process to make even the smallest adjustments, but the result is an exceptionally clean and spacious cabin.
The 8-speed automatic transmission and the various drive modes are operated by round knobs that sink into the console when not needed. Among the off-road options, the SVR includes a Dynamic drive mode that stiffens the suspension, tightens the steering and holds the gears for longer. Paddle shifters are standard.
There are various SVR badges to make you feel special, as well as aluminum pedals and standard 21-inch wheels (22-inch performance alloy wheels are an option). The sport seats are both slimmer and lighter, saving 30 kg from the weight of the regular Range Rover Sport, and they’re very comfortable. Just as well – you’ll want to spend a lot of time in this SUV.
- Model: 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR
- Price: $132,000
- Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V-8
- Peak output: 575 hp
- Peak torque: 516 lb-ft
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Length: 4,879 mm
- Width: 2,220 mm
- Height: 1,803 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,923 mm
- Curb weight: 2,310 kg
- Fuel Consumption(city/highway/combined): 18.0/9.9/12.8 L/100 km