Originally published May 29, 2015
Nobody needs a high-performance SUV, but that doesn’t mean that nobody wants one. In recognition of the stunning regularity with which the well-heeled will pay a premium for the wide-tire edition of any given people mover, the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR serves as the battering ram intended to knock down the door of the elite club thus far reserved for continental letter combinations like AMG and M. The Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team at both Land Rover and its sister company, Jaguar, intend the Range Rover Sport SVR to be the first of several high performance editions of existing models, all of which will wear the SVR badge.
Naturally, Land Rover was eager to prove that its latest SUV was just as capable at conquering corners as it is chugging through the mud and the muck of an off-road trail. To make their point, I was given the opportunity to drive the Range Rover Sport SVR from New York City’s SoHo district out to the Monticello Motor Club race track, where both on- and off-pavement excursions awaited me.
The nth Degree
Any clear-headed analysis of the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR’s (even if we make it an acronym it’s still an incredibly unwieldy name: LRRRSRVR) performance must recognize that it’s really a question of degree as compared to the Range Rover Sport Supercharged that sits below it in the SUV-builder’s pecking order (the pricier Autobiography Dynamic model represents a more luxury-oriented branch of the family). The heart of the SVR model is its 5.0L supercharged V8 engine, which has been massaged to produce the same amount of horsepower that it does in the big-daddy Range Rover Supercharged: 550 horses and 502 lb-ft of torque. This output is corralled by a revised, quicker-shifting version of the brand’s ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, as well as a full-time four-wheel drive system with low-range gearing. The extra oomph under the hood knocks the SUV’s 0-100 km/h time down from just over five seconds in the Supercharged model to just under five in the SVR.
Helping to keep 2,300 kilos of British steel… er, aluminium on the straight and narrow are a standard air suspension system, locking rear differential, brake-based torque-vectoring system and new ‘Dynamic’ mode for the vehicle’s Terrain Response system. The latter sculpts the same transmission, stability control, throttle, and traction control parameters typically aimed at facilitating off-road driving but this time with a bent towards tarmac performance. Oh, and the SVR also comes standard, of course, with Land Rover’s active exhaust system, which transforms even the slightest breath on the go-pedal into a delicious and cannonading assault on the eardrums of anyone within 100 yards.