► The ultimate Range Sport
► MY2018 model tested
► Priced from just under £100k
It’s interesting to think that the closest Land Rover ever got to making a performance Rangie a few decades ago was if the owner took their own car to Overfinch in the aftermarket scene.
Now, thanks to the Special Vehicle Operations division, they’ve been doing it in-house. And rather well, we might add.
We’ve driven the 2018 model year Range Rover Sport SVR – keep reading for our review below.
Is the MY2018 model that much different to before?
When the whole Range Rover Sport line-up was facelifted, JLR cleaned up the design a little and added some extra kit. But JLR’s SVO division managed to squeeze even more power out of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in the SVR – namely 24bhp and 14lb ft. That meant a drop in the sprint time by 0.3sec to 4.3 seconds and 12mph added to the top speed.
I take it the V8 sounds good?
You know that wide-eyed, jaw-dropping reaction you make in the midst of a fierce thunderstorm when lightning strikes? It feels, and indeed sounds, just like that – when it’s in Dynamic mode, anyway. The sports exhaust system accentuates the supercharged V8 as much as it can – bellowing under hard throttle, farting like a spoiled brat blowing raspberries on upshifts and dumping big globs of fuel into the exhaust just for the hell of it when coasting. You’re nothing but a lout when driving this with the sports exhaust on but it’s so, so addictive.
It’s even more pleasing to know that there’s a whopping lump of power that doesn’t give up the ghost until the SVR’s scintillating 7000rpm redline, either. The mid-range torque hits you in the back and more than enough to exploit in most driving situations. But the journey to that near-deafening top end is so far away it’s like stretching for that can of soup on the top shelf of the cupboard – you know it’s there, but trying to grab it requires real effort.
When you do reach it, the SVR is mind-bendingly quick, almost like it’s ripping up the road from underneath when at full whack. The 4.3sec 0-62mph launch time is enough to give 718 Caymans, Mustang V8s and more besides a clean pair of heels.
How does it handle?
It’s not a Porsche Cayenne Turbo around the bends, but not that far off. Even if this is the fire-breathing model, the Range Rover Sport is still built for wafty comfort rather than out-and-out dynamics. Switch it to Dynamic mode and there’s admirable body control without ruining the ride, a weighty steering rack that’s smooth but borders on feeling overly-artificial, and all-wheel drive that will pull you out of almost any hard corner situation.
It doesn’t ‘shrink around you’ in that clichéd way, but does a fairly solid job of scrubbing off a few hundred kilos of that rather heady kerbweight. Stronger brakes – maybe even carbon ceramics – would be useful for those who like to drive it hard, mind.
Can it still go off-road?
It can, yes, but this thing is likely to do as much off-roading as Hamilton’s F1 car. There’s Comfort for regular road use, Dynamic for the full-bore sport setup, an Eco mode that feels about as effective as pouring a bucket of water onto an oil rig fire and a version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system that features wet, rocky, sandy and muddy settings for when the going gets rough. There’s also a trailer stability assist system, hill descent control and low-traction launch control, too.
Is it luxurious?
The Range Rover Sport now uses the same interior design setup first seen on the Velar, so there’s a twin Touch Pro Duo infotainment system named. An upper screen controls nav, entertainment and phone connectivity while a lower screen is reserved for climate control, seating settings and the drive mode select.
Overall, then, the Range Rover SVR’s interior is a clean blend of ultra-modern touches and some very clever little details. Material quality is really impressive in the cockpit, though the twin touchscreen system takes ages to get used to – much like Audi’s recent wave of new cars. The illuminated steering wheel buttons include navigation switches for the digital instrument cluster and different switches light up depending what you’re currently doing with it – very neat.
There’s acres of legroom in the rear and a generous boot, too – a given, considering the Sport is strictly a five-seater.
Any bespoke SVR bits about the interior?
Other than the dirty bomb under the bonnet and body kit, all SVRs also have slim, embossed sports seats both front and rear, 825W Meridian sound system, a glut of bonus safety and assistance tech as standard and ambient lighting.
Our test car, finished in ‘Ethereal Blue’ with the carbonfibre pack wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet on UK roads, so there’s that. And we did find a couple of build quality issues hidden away including mismatched colouring on the passenger side front door handle and some slightly over-stressed door sealings.
It’s also a very large car, and feels that way on the road. Not a surprise, obviously, but parking even generously-sized bays is tricky.
Not long ago we called the Range Rover Sport SVR one of the most absurd cars ever built. It still is that – it borders on supercar quick, sounds like thunder, still provides plenty of luxury and can still go off-roading (even if you wouldn’t want it to).
A Porsche Cayenne Turbo might be for the discerning driver, but the SVR will whole-heartedly tick the entertainment factor box. You just have to put up with looking like a Premier League footballer.
Check out our Land Rover reviews