Car reviews - Land Rover - Range Rover Sport - SVR
Land Rover models
Composed body control, reasonable ride, belligerent soundtrack and matching grunt, attention-grabbing design
Room for improvement
Infotainment a little sluggish in response, active safety features list, price tag
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26 Feb 2016
Price and equipment
WHEN considering the $224,500 price tag (as tested $258,080) of the Range Rover Sport SVR, the “two for one” theory could be applied, buying the prestige wagon that can dwell on five-star forecourts without looking awkward, as well as potentially clambering over obstacles more challenging than a moist polo field.
Add to that the ability to frighten serious sportscars – and not just in a straight line – and it’s an amusing Lotto-list addition.
Also packed in for the price is tri-zone climate control, heated front and rear (outboard) seats, keyless entry and ignition, a centre console (but no armrest, which wasn’t missed), useful twin-blade sun visors (appropriately trimmed of course), custom ambient interior lighting, powered rear tailgate with gesture functionality, touchscreen infotainment controls for the sat-nav and the standard Meridian 19-speaker 825-watt surround-sound system, digital radio reception, the easy-to-read 12.3-inch ‘virtual’ instrument panel (with spotlight function on the needle to highlight numbers), a colour head-up display which is useful to keep track of whether you end up in possession of a fine, a summons or worse.
The engine makes the beefy $10,700, 1700-watt Meridian 23-speaker sound system unnecessary but worthy of a bass-rich beat.
For the life of us we can’t think why the $3870 dual-view split-screen TV option is even on the list – a shorter route to carsickness is yet to be invented.
We’d also be leaving the fixed-glass panoramic roof and heated steering wheel option boxes unchecked in this climate.
Settling into Oxford leather power-adjustable (including bolsters) SVR-embossed racing buckets, flicking metallic paddle shifters and gripping the carbon-fibre-trimmed chunky power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, the price tag melts into the background.
Even the roof (what little there is with the big glass panes) lining quietly screams class, as do the puddle lamps with the logo and aluminium/carbon-fibre (optional at $3000) trimming throughout the cabin.
Splashes of carbon-fibre and leather-trimmed racing buckets in the cabin leave little doubt that the sat-nav is unlikely to have the Birdsville Hotel in the “previous destinations” file.
The plush, yet purposeful five-seater has room enough for four adults without complaint for head or legroom, although room for lower limbs is by no means plentiful in a long-wheelbase German kind of way.
Engine and transmission
Some engines are strictly powerplants, while others have an orchestral element that renders sound systems redundant.
Then there are braying, belligerent bent-eight brutes like this one, fired up by an Eaton supercharger that adds a fierceness to the quad-pipe soundtrack only outdone by the corresponding force being sent through the eight-speed auto.
The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 punishes the rubber and the road with 405kW at a glorious 6000rpm (it maintains that peak for an additional 500rpm) and twists to the tune of 680Nm at a menacing 3500rpm.
That urge is enough for the 2.3-tonne off-roader to race to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 260km/h, all the while claiming a combined-cycle fuel economy claim identical to the 24kg-lighter 375kW/625Nm “standard” Range Rover Sport of 13.7 litres per 100km.
Seat of the pants does little to argue with the sprint claims but our time in the SVR yielded numbers hovering in the range of 16L/100km, which is perhaps indicative of time spent exploring performance over practicality.
Towing capacity falls with the extra performance – down 500kg from its less-powerful kin to 3000kg of braked trailer load.
Ride and handling
Having grown up in the early Range Rovers with single-rate springs, body roll wasn’t a sporadic annoyance but a way of life.
The SVR’s lack of body roll is nothing short of bizarre by comparison, accompanied by a ride quality that fusses a little over small bumps but dispatches larger stuff with an arrogant shrug.
Commuting on the automatic mode – with the active exhaust in stealth mode – the light steering and composed adaptive suspension still protest in an “I’d rather be cornering” manner, but there’s little to suggest a formal complaint.
A nice touch is the automatic access height when parking, as long as the snout isn’t sitting just above a tall kerb.
But once released from the shackles of suburbia the SVR is a sportscar-scaring weapon.
Turn in from the torque-vectoring-assisted electric power steering-equipped SUV is ludicrous for a vehicle of this size, but it takes a racetrack or rank stupidity to seriously unsettle this Rangie.
Add to the back-road blast a detour down a dirt track or worse and the SVR can be coaxed taller on its underpinnings and the driveline tweaked by Terrain Response to burn things other than bitumen.
However, the optional $4800 22-inch Continental SportContact 5-wrapped alloys don’t look as though they’d enjoy it.
What the optional wheel/tyre package does do is allay some of the fears from the SVR’s launch, which queried the capabilities of the standard rubber.
Safety and servicing
While no ANCAP crash test has been performed on the SVR, the broader range is ranked at five stars and there’s no reason to think the SVR is any less crashworthy.
Dual front, side and curtain airbags head the obligatory safety systems list that has stability, traction and trailer sway control, with cornering brake, rollover and emergency stop function.
The adaptive air suspension is height adjustable and fights body roll admirably as well as endowing the big Brit with remarkable dynamics – aided by the torque vectoring function – and big Brembo brakes for crash avoidance.
The 4WD system also has a hill-start assist function, with what the brand calls Gradient Release Control (GRC) to allow for gradual brake release and smooth take-offs on descents and Gradient Acceleration Control (GAC) to limit acceleration in steep descents for better control.
If you are seriously brave with your SVR you’ll discover the Reactive Grounding Response system, which monitors the car’s behaviour over rough terrain and raises the body to the absolute highest point of its height adjustable suspension if an impact with the ground is detected.
The lighting package – automatic Xenons with auto high beam and daytime LED running lights – offers excellent illumination, although paying an extra $1000 for adaptive functionality is a little rich on the high side of $200K.
The SVR does have rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, power folding and adjustable heated exterior auto-dimming mirrors with approach puddle lamps (with a neat graphic of the car’s profile).
There is also auto-locking doors, the clever one-button child door and window locks, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and lane-departure warning, but active cruise control and the associated automatic emergency braking system is on the options list for $4700.
What does also seem a bit rich, given the asking price, is charging for the surround camera system (at $1800) as well as blind spot monitoring with reverse traffic detection for $1420 when it is standard on far cheaper machines.
Servicing the SVR is done every 12 months or 26,000km and the warranty is three years or 100,000km, whichever arrives first.
Having spent some time with this powerplant in the Jaguar F-Type, the pace and soundtrack was something for which we were prepared. But its demeanour is different in the big SUV.
Propelling a square-jawed off-roader to numbers worthy of a two-seater sportscar is a valid application of this gem and while it is a stupendous machine, we can’t help thinking of another from the same stable – its similarly priced larger sibling in turbo-diesel V8 Autobiography guise – holds appeal to the sensible side of our brain.
But if the eternal teenager got its way then the SVR would be turning up in the driveway first.
BMW X5 M, from $185,510 plus on-roads
The beefy Beemer X5 M offers up 423kW and 750Nm and claims a lower thirst and faster sprint to 100km/h. It too will fire through a series of bends with stupendous pace and grip, as well as an entertaining soundtrack, but wouldn’t see which way the SVR went once the roads lost their sealed surface and got serious.
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S, from $189,900 plus on-roads
Mercedes-Benz revamped its big SUV range and some of the Benz models can still be had with the optional off road package, but the AMG model isn’t one of them. The twin-turbo V8 produces 430kW and 760Nm and – like its nemeses at BMW – drinks a little less and sprints a little harder than its forebears, but won’t go much further than fast dirt.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo, from $232,900 plus on-roads
Porsche’s 382kW/750Nm SUV certainly has the pace and poise to more than match the big Brit on sealed surfaces, but its once-considerable off-road prowess took a hit when the low range transfer case was dropped from its arsenal. It still doesn’t mind getting muddy though.
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