Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR SUV (2015)
Our Rating 5 / 5
You join us here in New York, otherwise known as the ‘Big Apple’, and if you haven’t been here before, there is plenty of truth in that name. Everything here is big, and we’re here to drive a big car; the new Range Rover Sport SVR. Almost five metres long, two metres wide and about two tonnes in weight. It also has a very big engine; a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, and that makes for even more big numbers. 542 brake horsepower, 502 pounds feet of torque, 0-100km/h in four and a half seconds and a top speed of 260km/h. In essence, this is the sportiest, most extravagant version of what is, let’s face it, already a fairly extravagant car.
The question is, is it any good, and does it justify the amount you’ll pay to buy one? At the moment, it’s all very familiar Range Rover territory. I’m sitting up high above the road in a very comfortable seat, with a cracking view out in all directions. I’m surrounded by a vast selection of luxury toys that are keeping me comfortable, entertained and informed, and I’m sitting in a cabin that is frankly lush, with loads of stitched leather, sporty detailing and really pricy-feeling materials. What’s more, there is more than enough room in here, for four of my gangliest mates to come along and enjoy the ride with me, along with some luggage. So far then, so Range Rover.
I am however feeling one thing, that’s not altogether Range Rovery, and that is a rather knobbly low-speed ride. The SVR suspension has been played with to make it sportier and edgier, and some of the standard Range Rover’s waftiness has been lost. That does mean however, that the SVR feels a good bit pointier than the standard car in the bends. Yeah, you never forget that you’re in one big behemoth of a thing, but there’s masses of grip, the steering is responsive and really nicely weighted and the body control is really solid for a big 4x4, and what about that engine? Well, it’s barely ticking over at the ridiculously low speed limits of New York State, but the tiniest squeeze of the throttle tells you that there is some fairly awesome power left in reserve.
You see, the SVR has been designed to be just as home on the race track as it is on the school run and that is exactly where we are taking it. The first thing you notice is the sheer pace of this thing, this is the first opportunity we’ve had to really open it up, and from the bottom of the rev range all the way up to the redline, the way this thing builds speed is nothing short of devastating. So we’re chucking in a couple of tight corners now, and for a car this tall and this heavy, it changes direction with real crispness. The turn-in is sharp, I’m getting plenty through the steering and you can even make subtle adjustments to your line using the throttle pedal.
I’m not convinced it’s quite as precise or as planted as other performance SUVs from the likes of Porsche and BMW, but what it lacks in precision, it more than makes up for with engagement and raucousness, and it really is an absolute ride. So it’s time to sum up the SVR and there is one obvious question, is it a little bit too much? After all, you can still enjoy most of what’s great about the SVR in a standard Range Rover Sport with a diesel engine, and go pretty fast in the process, and choosing one of those is going to save you an awful lot of money in both purchase price and running costs. However, there will still be a lot of people out there for whom the SVR will be very appealing, the sort of people who simply must have the fastest, most exotic and most expensive example of the breed. That is exactly what the SVR is, and if you can even consider buying one, then you can probably afford to run a car that does a fraction over 20 MPG.
Is it the best car of its type dynamically? Not entirely sure about that, but it is as engaging and as enjoyable as any of its rivals, and if anything, it’s even a bit more likeable. If you can afford it, you will absolutely love it.