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Car specifications

Brake horsepower
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0–62 mph
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Insurance Group


What’s this, then?

It’s the Range Rover Sport SVR. As is the modern way, Land Rover has teased us mercilessly with the promise of its fastest, most powerful car ever.

The RRS SVR made lots of lovely old cars look a bit crusty at the Goodwood FOS last year, and again a few months later at Pebble Beach. It takes something special to upstage the stars of those particular shows.

That teaser video for the RRS SVR made a Spitfire sound like an Austin 1100 on three cylinders. How is it on the ears?

We’ll come back to the noise, just as soon as we can think of a suitable analogy. Absorb the following information for now: it costs £93,450, has a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that pumps out just shy of 550bhp, 502 torques, and despite its size and weight can bodyslam to 60mph in a faintly worrying 4.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 162mph (it could go even faster).

And although we’re glad we weren’t actually in the Sport SVR when the stopwatch was running, you’ve got to admit a Nürburgring lap time of 8min 14sec is good going. It was, in fact, a new record for an SUV, though one since usurped by the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

SVR? What’s that all about?

This is the first product to emerge from JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations division, whose 20,000 square foot HQ is now up and running on the site of the old Peugeot factory on the outskirts of Coventry. Fair to say that SVO’s concoctions are likely to be a bit saucier than the Pug 309 diesels that used to pop off the line back in the day.

When it’s fully up to speed, SVO will generate annual revenue of £1bn and employ 900 people. We’re still a bit non-plussed about exactly where SVR sits in the overall JLR product matrix - for example, will there be a Jaguar XE R SVR? - but if this Rangie Sport is anything to go by, they will get our full attention.

It’s not that lairy to look at…

Agreed. And this is a good thing. SVO’s top engineering man is former Williams guy Paul Newsome, and he’s recruited a bunch of ex-F1 dudes to make sure the Sport SVR really works, rather than just looking like a two-tonne tart’s handbag.

Check out the new front bumper, whose extra intakes improve airflow to the charge air coolers. There are extra ducts for the brakes, and a scoop to funnel air into the pad box, too. The rear spoiler reduces lift and drag. It’s available in seven colours, including the SVR-exclusive Estoril blue, none of which are screechingly TOWIE-esque, thank God.

But what you notice most are the wheels, all 22 inches of them, which are so enormous the designers needed to add spats to the arches to accommodate them and the 295/40 section rubber that’s wrapped around them.

Continental developed the tyres specifically for this car, and much credit they deserve, too.

Twenty-two inches? Should we have our osteopath on speed dial?

Well, firstly the 22 inchers are optional (21-inch is standard). Secondly, the way this thing rides is arguably the single most impressive thing about it. Yes, it throws itself down the road with almost apocalyptic abandon, and its eight-speed ‘box smears through its ratios 50 per cent faster, but what use is all that grunt if the chassis can’t manage it properly?

The regular Sport’s aluminium structure is obviously a great place to start, and there’s ally in the trick multi-link suspension, too. Air sprung with adaptive, magnetic dampers, the Sport SVR patters a little bit on coarse surfaces, but the rest of the time it’s magic. The bushing in the rear subframe has been beefed up, and the electric power steering has been tuned to deliver noticeably more ‘heft’.

It could have been a thunderously clod-hopping experience. But it’s so expertly judged that this isn’t a car that needs to be manhandled or wrestled into submission. It glides and flows in a way that often has you scratching your head in wonderment.

So it handles, then…

Oh yes. The RRS SVR pull 1.3g in peak cornering. There’s also a software upgrade for Range Rover’s Active Roll-Control, whose actuators respond to body movements up to 1000 times per second. But it automatically defers to the standard map if the system detects that the car is off-road. By which we mean, actually off-road and not exiting through a hedge backwards.

Off-roading? You’re kidding, right?

Nope. We really did some. Those same Continentals - SportContact 5s - that deliver serious grip on bumpy Cotswold B-roads and can turn in that daft Ring lap time are also capable of scaling a boggy hill-side.

The SVR’s wading depth is 850mm, the same as the regular car, and its approach, breakover and departure angles are only slightly compromised by the extra bits it wears.

Anything you don’t like?

If we’re being picky, we’re not totally sold on the SVR’s interior. Its German rivals - Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Merc AMG ML63 and BMW Ms X5 and X6 - are all better executed, and just feel that bit more special. The multi-media system is off-the-pace, too.

No point quibbling with the combined fuel economy figure of 22.3mpg - if you’re in the market for one of these, you’re not going to bat an eyelid as you fill that 105-litre tank with super juice.

Thought of an analogy for the noise yet?

Gah. No. The Sport SVR features a two-stage active exhaust, with bigger diameter pipes. At low revs, the valves close off two of the four exhaust exits, until around 3000rpm.

At which point, if you’re on the throttle everything’s open and all hell doesn’t just break loose, it tap dances on your synapses. It sounds like a top fuel dragster. It’s a candidate for best-sounding car ever. And crucially, it knows when to shut up. Just throttle-off, or push a button. It’s brilliant.

Sounds like this SVO lot had fun doing the SVR…

We reckon. It’s rigorously engineered, but has soul, too, which is where it scores over its various Teutonic nemeses. They’re off to a flying start. Next!

What do you think?

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