Sharp Magazine Middle East (English) - - Auto -

From the van­tage point of the brand new Range Rover Sport SVR’S cock­pit, life looks more than good. This is, after­all, an SUV that JLR proudly pro­claims: “the fastest, most pow­er­ful and most dy­nam­i­cally fo­cused Land Rover ever pro­duced.” (In­ter­est­ing that they went with “Land Rover” there— hardly seems nec­es­sary, but I sup­pose it’s meant to re­mind us that this is, ul­ti­mately, one big happy fam­ily of SUVS). This is a Range Rover though, so it’s no slouch in the com­fort depart­ment, ex­cept that it boasts the least com­fort­able seats in the con­tem­po­rary Land Rover line.

The new flag­ship Range Rover Sport SVR puts en­hanced fo­cus on the per­for­mance of the most dy­namic model in the Range Rover fam­ily, en­gi­neered to com­ple­ment the core range us­ing all the knowl­edge and ex­per­tise of Jaguar Land Rover’s Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions (SVO) di­vi­sion.

Un­der the bon­net, the 5.0litre su­per­charged V8 en­gine is the most pow­er­ful in the brand’s his­tory, pro­duc­ing 575PS and gen­er­at­ing an im­pres­sive 700Nm of torque. That’s a hike of 25PS and enough to power the Range Rover Sport SVR from 0-100km/ h in just 4.5 sec­onds.

Cou­pled with en­hance­ments to the chas­sis, the new SVR de­liv­ers more dy­namic han­dling with­out com­pro­mis­ing its tra­di­tional com­fort. The en­gi­neers at SVO fo­cused on con­trol­ling pitch un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing, and changes to the damp­ing hard­ware have im­proved turn-in, mid-cor­ner grip and body con­trol.

In ad­di­tion to the en­hanced driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, SVO has pro­vided new vis­ual cues to the model’s per­for­mance po­ten­tial. The bon­net is a unique car­bon

fi­bre com­pos­ite de­sign for the first time, with in­te­grated cool­ing vents that trans­form the front as­pect of the ve­hi­cle. Its pur­pose­ful pro­file trans­forms the SVR’S ap­pear­ance and its light­weight con­struc­tion de­liv­ers gen­uine dy­namic ben­e­fits by re­duc­ing weight over the front axle.

Cus­tomers can also choose a unique paint op­tion that leaves the cen­tral sec­tion of the new bon­net’s car­bon fi­bre weave ex­posed, cre­at­ing an ar­rest­ing high-per­for­mance aes­thetic. Prom­i­nent new de­tail­ing on the front grille also catches the eye, while the side fender vents are fin­ished in Gloss Black.

Greater use of body-coloured de­tail­ing at the rear and the pres­ence of an SVO badge in place of the Land Rover oval also help to mark out the SVR as some­thing very spe­cial.

A new front bumper de­sign pro­vides a dis­crete change to the SVR’S as­sertive ap­pear­ance, with changes de­signed to im­prove brake cool­ing. All-new brake pads and discs pro­vide en­hanced per­for­mance at higher tem­per­a­tures, en­sur­ing the brak­ing sys­tem is more re­sis­tant to fade dur­ing dy­namic driv­ing.

The SVR is avail­able with 21-inch al­loy wheels, while a new 22-inch light­weight per­for­mance al­loy de­sign is also avail­able in two colour fin­ishes.

Th­ese changes can be com­ple­mented by a series of ad­di­tional de­sign packs – most no­tably, the Car­bon Fi­bre Ex­te­rior Pack, which in­cor­po­rates taste­ful de­tail­ing to the front bumper, grille, fender vents, mir­ror cov­ers and tail­gate.

Cabin changes build on the en­hance­ments to the core model with a sharper fo­cus on driver and pas­sen­ger com­fort, al­lied with higher spec­i­fi­ca­tion ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes.

From Svr-branded tread­plates that il­lu­mi­nate as the driver climbs aboard, to the feel of the alu­minium sports ped­als be­neath the driver’s feet, the im­prove­ments are aimed at en­hanc­ing ev­ery el­e­ment of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sup­port­ive new light­weight Su­per­sport seats cre­ate an ath­letic sil­hou­ette and pro­vide ex­cep­tional com­fort on long jour­neys. They also de­liver a sig­nif­i­cant 30kg weight sav­ing over the core seat and are heated in the front and rear as stan­dard.

Fin­ished in high-qual­ity per­fo­rated Wind­sor leather, the re­vised de­signs re­flect the model’s sta­tus as the ul­ti­mate high-per­for­mance lux­ury SUV. Seat backs fin­ished in satin black with an em­bossed SVR logo on the head­rests also leave no doubt about the SVR’S ex­clu­siv­ity. The new seats also lib­er­ate more rear legroom and cre­ate the im­pres­sion of a cos­set­ing fourseat in­te­rior, while re­tain­ing flex­i­ble

five-seat ca­pa­bil­ity.

By con­trast,, the barely padded thrones of a vin­tage De­fender will ba­si­cally rat­tle your pos­te­rior off (I spent a chunk of my child­hood rid­ing in one) but of late the brand has been given to more rar­i­fied lev­els of up­hol­stery. I say boast be­cause th­ese bum-hug­gers serve a clear pur­pose and, it’s not that the seats in the SVR are bad, it’s that they’re track ready buck­ets de­signed to hold your frame in place when you’re pulling se­ri­ous G’s. Yes they’d be a tad con­fin­ing for the nurs­ery school run, un­less you ex­pect to un­leash the fury of the SVR when lil’ boop­sie is late for story time— but aside from price tag and fuel con­sump­tion, this is an oth­er­wise un­com­pro­mis­ing ve­hi­cle.

For in­stance, even though you sac­ri­fice ease of egress and ingress, and might feel a lit­tle pinched af­ter a few hun­dred km, the all im­por­tant driver’s seat of­fers full 16-way elec­tric ad­just­ment. There’s all the fine leather, turned alu­minium trim (car­bon fi­bre is op­tional) and tech you’d ex­pect in a ve­hi­cle dreamed up by the al­ready lux­u­ri­ous (read spe­cial) brand’s Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions— but I think we’re all here for some­thing else: the power plant and driv­ing dy­nam­ics.

This is an SUV of al­most car­toon­ish abil­ity— it han­dles date night, of­froad­ing, and the track with equal mea­sures of pro­fi­ciency. Sure, the owner who takes time out to prac­tice all three in the car might be far and few in be­tween ( let’s face it, most of th­ese beasts will be ba­bied and cod­dled in warm garages) but leave it to our re­gion to pro­vide a few am­bi­tious out­liers. We didn’t take the SVR out on the dunes but I ex­pect the SVR would fare about as well as the Range Rover Sport, as the ride height is pre­cisely the same, and can be ad­justed from 50mm in “ac­cess mode” up to 235mm for the trail or sands.

This is where the in­evitable bias of per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence weighs against unabridged re­port­ing— I’ve al­ready had the plea­sure of putting a Range Rover through the paces off road, and at a more sub­stan­tial pro­gram. The SVR though, could be re­viewed solely as an off-road ve­hi­cle and still merit a few pages of de­tailed cov­er­age. This is not go­ing to be that piece, not with that su­per­charged V8 so se­verely un­der-uti­lized for this type of driv­ing. But then, the car’s trail cre­den­tials are an im­por­tant part of

the SVR’S spe­cific con­text, as we need to re­mem­ber that, while the SVR is many things, light­weight is not one of them at 2495 kg.

JLR didn’t skimp on the off-road kit, as the four-wheel-drive sys­tem re­tains a low-range trans­fer case, lock­able cen­ter dif­fer­en­tial, ac­tive roll-con­trol sys­tem, air sus­pen­sion, and wheel travel that matches the non-svr ver­sion. De­spite all of which, the Whit­ley car-maker re­ports that the SVR has net­ted the fastest lap time in its seg­ment on the Nür­bur­gring Nord­schleife, at 8:14. That’s :20 bet­ter than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and, ex­cuse the drool, an ut­terly jaw drop­ping feat.

To be hon­est, even af­ter en­joy­ing the SVR on track, I was still sur­prised that it’s faster than, for in­stance, the X6. This isn’t be­cause the SVR feels slower, but be­cause it sim­ply presents as a larger car. In fact BMW are al­ready claim­ing that the X6 M will post faster times— but that is, for now, just talk.

While the X6 drives more like a puffed up sa­loon, the SVR feels large and in charge, with bru­tal straight line ac­cel­er­a­tion more akin to say, Hell­cat. Like that other fiery kitty (not to be con­fused with Jag’s bonkers F-type R— more on that soon) the SVR is never shy about ac­knowl­edg­ing its con­sid­er­able mass, it just gives you an in­cred­i­ble set of tools to more or less feel like you’re de­fy­ing grav­ity, dab­bing the brakes, and swing­ing into the turns like Tarzan atop the world’s posh­est vine.

The car sounds like a ban­shee with the throt­tle open— it has an over­tone of su­per­charger whine that might not please the pedants, but for me has the dark charm of an early pe­riod Tony Iommi riff. The SVR will go from 0 to 100 in 4.3 sec­onds, so I’m able to make great use of the straight lead­ing a late apex left that re­quires a sub­tle ramp up of speed as you al­low the steer­ing to play out, mat­ting the ac­cel­er­a­tor by the time the wheel is straight. It’s an in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing turn, and com­bines the SVR’S best at­tributes: brute ac­cel­er­a­tion and an affin­ity for the longer lines that bring the SUV into proper sports car ter­ri­tory. You can fling this thing around quite lib­er­ally and, to be hon­est, I sus­pect the car’s tol­er­ance for lat­eral ac­cel­er­a­tion trumps my own. Maybe I’ve just seen too many videos SUVS up on two wheels.

In short, the SVR is one of those tech­no­log­i­cal mar­vels of mod­ern mo­tor­ing that out­per­forms my own bias to­wards what a very large car ought to be able to do. There’s a host of engi­neer­ing un­der­pin­ning that claim, the SUV’S mag­ne­torhe­o­log­i­cal shocks, ac­tive roll con­trol, brake-based torque vec­tor­ing, air sus­pen­sion, and lim­it­ed­slip dif­fer­en­tial all com­bine to defy con­ven­tion. Take a step back and you can see that this car is an outlier. It’s not meant to be ev­ery­thing to ev­ery­one, but it does amount to a very high-pow­ered ride that takes sport and util­ity their log­i­cal con­clu­sion in one of the best-de­signed ve­hi­cle pack­ages to grace the form. It’s as if Gerry Mc­gov­ern, In­di­ana Jones, and Ed­die Irvine got to­gether to dream this thing up, along with the other keen minds at JLR who con­trib­uted to the blis­ter­ing be­he­moth. Sure, the seats pinch a lit­tle more than the, er, con­ven­tional Rangey— but just take it out on the track and you’ll see why it’s worth it.


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