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Driven: Range Rover Sport SVR muscles up on rivals

Hey charger: Tweaks to its supercharger are just some of the changes to the potent Rangie SVR for 2018.

Ultra-quick Range Rover Sport SVR hunts down European – but not US – rivals

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Land Rover logo27 Mar 2018

By TIM ROBSON in THE UNITED KINGDOM

LAND Rover has tuned up its already potent Range Rover Sport SVR for 2018, giving it a power and torque boost that provides it with more of a fighting chance in the high-performance luxury SUV segment.

At 423kW and 700Nm, the SVR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine has gained 17kW and 20Nm over the 2017 version.

BMW’s X6 M, for example, makes an identical 423kW but a meatier 750Nm, while the new Porsche Cayenne Turbo is slightly behind in the power stakes (404kW) but also tops the SVR for torque (770Nm) – and the forthcoming Cayenne Turbo S is still to be revealed.

The SVR also falls short of the 522kW and 868Nm trumped up by the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk’s 6.2-litre supercharged Hellcat V8.

Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s product public affairs manager James Scrimshaw told GoAuto that while the $134,900 Jeep may be more powerful, internally it is not considered as a rival to the SVR.

“It’s faster, sure, but it just doesn’t sit in the same brand presence as our cars,” Mr Scrimshaw told GoAuto at the international launch of the SVR in the UK this week. “It’s not me saying that, either it’s what customers that are coming in and telling us.” Mr Scrimshaw suggested that the SVR’s main competition comes from vehicles priced between $200,000 and $300,000.

“Our car sits nicely at $238,000, and we don’t find people that are cross-shopping with a $100,000 price difference,” he said.

Approximately 10 per cent of the Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports sold in Australia each year are powered by a supercharged V8, with broad representation across its retail network.

“Just about every single dealer has an SVR, so it’s not where we’ve just put it through one or two dealers,” Mr Scrimshaw said. “This car, we think, is still going to be a real pull for us with the increased power, and we haven’t increased the price much at all.

“We think we’ll still get a lot of conquests from other brands, but we still think Range Rover Sport customers will upgrade to this as well.”

The updated Range Rover Sport SVR is priced at $238,200 plus on-road costs – $5000 more than the previous version – and will come standard with 21-inch rims, a carbon-fibre bonnet finished in body colour, sports bucket seats with leather interior, dual multimedia screens with satellite navigation, a digital dash and four-zone climate control.

There is also a gesture-controlled sunblind for the panoramic sunroof, as well as up to 17 connection points for electronic devices.

MY18 updates include matrix LED headlights, a new front bumper, bonnet and grille, a redesigned rear valance and various tweaks to interior switchgear and trim pieces.

Mechanical revisions to the SVR’s engine for 2018 include a ported and regeared supercharger and ECU revisions, as well as a lightened exhaust system with infinitely adjustable internal flaps to vary noise levels.

Retuned dampers and stronger front shafts, meanwhile, combine with thicker 380mm-diameter front brake rotors and six-piston callipers.

Driving the SVR is a study in contrasts not only does it retain real-world civility and pukka off-road chops, it offers up a new take on its wild side.

Put simply, the SVR is an unabashed lunatic draped in a conservative suit. Able to blast from 0-100km/h in just 4.5 seconds – 0.2s quicker than before – the prodigious torque generated by the supercharged V8 turns this 2250kg five-seat wagon into a ground-bound intra-city missile, complete with an audacious exhaust performance that would put a heavy-metal concert in the shade.

Ludicrously loud crackles and grumbles on throttle overrun are just part of the fun, with the SVR’s thunderous baritone supercharger howl the equivalent to a low-level Spitfire flyby. It genuinely sounds like a fully fledged racing car when it’s on full song.

And its pace is incredible. The SVR is seriously fast in any gear from any rev level, with that prodigious torque available right through the rev range.

Occasionally, the throttle response could have been a bit more linear there were a couple of examples where a little prod equalled a disproportionally big input and a noticeable forward surge.

Official fuel consumption on the combined cycle remains at 12.8 litres per 100km, while CO2 emissions are listed at 294 grams per kilometre – 230g/km more than the new PHEV plug-in hybrid version.

Not stopping at sheer performance, Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit has also massaged the SVR dynamically, with the previously brittle-edged ride of the Dynamic mode now replaced by a vastly more sophisticated feel at all speeds.

What’s more, the driver can personalise the drive mode to allow the dampers to be backed off, giving the big SUV genuinely startling abilities on bumpy back roads.

It can still get skittish over repeated small undulations in its stiffest suspension setting, while the steering feel verges on the light side of feelsome. Sitting a bit lower in the car would make for a better connection, too – though that would then make forward vision tough over the bluff clamshell bonnet.

Still, the breadth of ability that the SVR offers is remarkable, and it will lay to waste more than one modern sportscar in the right hands. Come the weekend, it can tow a van or boat with ease, and comfortably seat a family of five, then present during the week as an executive express of the highest order.

Some will argue that it’s a big departure from the Range Rover ethos, but the SVR manages to retain utility while blending in a large dose of entertainment.

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