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Range Rover Sport SVR: Furiously fast, curiouslycapable

S. Muralidhar | Updated on: May 17, 2018
Imposing presence: The SUV roars its way around corners and long straights

Imposing presence: The SUV roars its way around corners and long straights

Seeing double The interiors get a dual touchscreen set-up

Seeing double The interiors get a dual touchscreen set-up

Developed by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, this Rangie is a rare mix of speed and legendary off-roading abilities

There was a time when a souped-up super performance sports utility vehicle would have been a ludicrous concept. But then the Tesla Model X happened, and everything changed. With an emerging class of buyers looking for exclusivity in every segment and willing to pay top dollar for that, it is not surprising that others followed in the super luxury segment too; brands like Bentley, Lamborghini and, now, even Rolls-Royce have joined the luxury and performance SUV bandwagon. It seems likely that Ferrari and Aston Martin may also come up with their own crossovers within the next two-three years.

Unlike some of the early entrants from a couple of American marques, which seemed put together like and as ungainly as Frankenstein’s monsters, these new super luxury, high performance SUVs are focussed and true to their brand’s fundamental principles in design, capabilities and performance. Case in point is the new Range Rover Sport SVR, a vehicle that has been built to max out on the performance front, but also retains the brand’s legendary off-roading capabilities.

Design

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Seeing double The interiors get a dual touchscreen set-up

 

 

The RR Sport SVR gets a big makeover for its model year 2018. It gets a lot of new exterior features that have also been changed across the board for all Range Rover Sport models such as the sleeker headlamps with new Pixel Laser LEDs and the slimmer daytime running light (DRL) signatures. The bonnet grille is also new with a different honeycomb pattern and in the new RR Sport PHEV, the electric socket is smartly hidden behind the Land Rover green oval logo.

I travelled to the Cotswolds and to JLR’s test track in Fen End in the UK a few weeks ago to get a taste of the new Range Rover Sport in SVR form. The RR Sport SVR’s incredible combination of performance, luxury and SUV capability hits you right from when you look at its exterior. Aside of the liberal sprinkling of the SVR badge around the vehicle, the extensive use of carbon fibre really hits you with the message that this is a serious performance vehicle. An entire bonnet slab in CFRP, with optional body colour stripes, the door mirrors and multiple other trim elements on the front fender also in carbon fibre gives the SUV an aggressive front profile. There are other design elements like dual vents on the bonnet, the large scoops and airdam in the fender and the carbon-fibre breathers that leave you with no doubts about its performance potential.

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Dual twin exhausts and the glossy black Range Rover badging at the rear make the SVR stand out from the rest of the RR pack. Viewed at from the side, the SVR looks very much like the previous generation RR Sport, but the red brake calipers and 22-inch black alloys catch the eye. That is also when you realise that this is still a hulk on stilts, with its raised stance essential for its off-road performance and its famous water-wading capability. But, despite its size and SUV build, Land Rover officials were also quoting a 0-100 kmph acceleration of 4.5 seconds! Time to get behind the wheel.

Cabin

The 2018 RR Sport’s cabin gets new materials and colour themes similar to and complementing the range of new exterior body colours. The most significant change to the interior are the new, inter-linked dual 10-inch touchscreens on the centre stack. First featured in the Velar, the ‘Touch Pro Duo’ Infotainment system is meant to behave like a digital butler — offering handy information and solutions to any requests and queries you may throw at them. Providing all the navigation, connectivity and infotainment options, these crisp, high-definition displays make a big impact to the cabin. In keeping with the SVR’s super performance positioning, the screens can be customised to display a stop watch/lap timer, power and torque on tap and/or a graphical representation of the ‘Gs’ being experienced by the driver while taking corners hard and fast.

The familiar cabin with its horizontal and intersecting vertical dashboard elements, and brushed aluminium and leather material combos, also gets its share of carbon-fibre in the SVR. There are enough logo reminders in the cabin too telling you that, while your backside is being kept warm in the wide squabs of the sports seats, this is a focussed, highly capable SUV. The cabin of the RR Sport SVR retains the minimalist, elegant and opulent approach to design and choice of materials that the Range Rovers of past have come to represent. It is still practical too, offering 780 litres of boot space.

 

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Performance

The RR Sport SVR is offered with a 5.0-litre, V8 supercharged petrol engine generating a higher 575 PS of power and a whopping 700 Nm of peak torque. The RR Sport SVR’s top speed is limited to 280 kmph. Power delivery is instantaneous; and despite my creeping doubt that performance will be affected by the sheer weight and aerodynamics of the SVR, I was blown away by the shove into the wind that the powertrain lends to this vehicle. To truly experience the capability of the SVR, we headed to JLR’s track in Fen End — an abandoned World War I airstrip that has been converted into a test track and experience centre.

With long straights and a steeply banked turn, the track is perfect for some seriously fast cars; and the RR Sport SVR comes into its own thundering through the straights. The exhaust note from the 4,999 cc supercharged engine is an angry roar, and with the exhaust flaps open, a delightful series of crackles emerged every time I shifted and loosened my foot on the throttle. After experiencing the RR Sport SVR’s ride quality over patchy rural roads around the Cotswolds and keeping to speed limits, it was good to let the car loose on the track. It’s unrelenting acceleration meant 200-plus kmph speeds came up even before I realised it. This just doesn’t behave like a 2.5-tonne SUV (loaded).

Bottomline

With its stiff chassis and tight suspension, the Range Rover Sport SVR is amply aided by its inherent handling traits to make me feel confident even while heading into corners at higher than recommended speeds. These features combine to give the SVR its dynamic capabilities and make you forget that you are actually driving a high-sprung SUV. The steering is also superbly tuned, nicely weighted and precise, it feels more sports car-like. Just to remind me that this is a Range Rover at heart, the folks at JLR’s experience centre had also put together short off-reading sections. Here too, the SVR pulled out of slushy, rain-drenched climbs and rutted tracks in the woods without any fuss.

When the Range Rover Sport SVR does make it to India, I expect taller profile tyres, may be shod on the smaller 21-inch rims and a slightly re-calibrated suspension set-up. This face-lifted model year 2018 RR Sport SVR is a real treat. It can deliver more than many others in the full-sized SUV space, even if you don’t consider its unique off-roading prowess. Expect prices in India to be upwards of ₹2.2 crore.

Published on May 17, 2018

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