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JLR Australia sends SOS for more SVO

More to come: The supercharged Range Rover Sport SVR has been in short supply, despite a $224,110 price tag.

Range Rover and Jaguar SUVs to get SVO hurry up ahead of passenger cars

8 Nov 2016

JAGUAR Land Rover Australia has requested a greater number of sports products from its Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division to take advantage of burgeoning demand for high-end sports vehicles in this market.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible on Fraser Island, Queensland, JLR Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner revealed that the Australian outpost had pledged strong support for sportier future models after noting the success of “AMG-type” products here.

“As the range of (JLR) products grows, there is certain work being done and other opportunities throughout the rest of the range that the guys are looking at now for markets like ours where performance stuff is a fantastic opportunity,” he started.

“We’ve had a good chat to the guys at SVO – John Edwards who heads up SVO in the UK – and we had a discussion about what vehicles there are (in the pipeline) and made it pretty clear that we’re happy to support him in many ways because we see it as a good opportunity.

“He (Mr Edwards) has made it very clear that everything is on the table, so long as it makes sense.”

However, Mr Wiesner strongly hinted that sports SUV models were likely to become the focus above Jaguar’s passenger car range.

“The business case has to make sense given that there’s a lot of engineering work that goes into making that next step, and there’s a lot of debate around whether you have an SVR XE,” he continued.

“The simple fact is I think we’re doing it the right way in the segments that over time are growing, developing into great opportunities and will continue to evolve – so do you invest there.”

Asked whether that meant investing in SUV models before sedans, Mr Weisner replied: “Yeah, and maybe there is a bit of opportunity for both, but at the end of the day there is a certain amount of development funding and you’ve got to make sure you … get the best return on investment.”“SUVs are very much in the growth space. The products we have now, let alone the potential for the future, have very good platforms that lend themselves (to SVR models).”

The comments cast into doubt an imminent arrival of a Jaguar XE R or SVR that has been rumoured to use a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 to take on the likes of the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63.

It also indicates that the SVO division will focus on tuning Range Rovers and the Jaguar F-Pace SUV first.

Although the Jaguar F-Type SVR flagship was created by the bespoke Mercedes-AMG-like outpost – which received a £20 million (A$34.5m) investment boost this year to produce four new halo sportscars in four years – it also produced the Range Rover Sport SVR and Range Rover SV Autobiography first.

Mr Wiesner claimed local buyers had become increasingly willing to spend big on these offerings, including the full-sports SVR and sports-luxury SV-Line branding, and he willingly flagged future model changes for existing product.

“There will be further tweaks and changes going forward on SVR Range Rover Sport,” he said of the $224,110 large SUV that packs a 405kW/680Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine.

“We quite frankly haven’t been able to since launch get enough production.

“We’re (also) seeing a lot of interest around the SV Autobiography range, which is a fairly expensive range of Range Rovers, and that will expand further because the level of bespokeness is quite sensational, and there are a lot of people out there keen to get involved in that.

“Range Rover has been king of that space for a very long time, and we need to make sure it remains so, to create a broad array of options for those at the top end of the luxury SUV market.”

It is a market that Mr Wiesner forecasts will continue to boom.

“If you look at the global statistics, across that very high end luxury prestige space, whether it’s performance or luxury cars, there is significant opportunity as the wealthier become wealthier, rightly or wrongly.

“But it creates a great opportunity from a performance point of view.”

At the other end of the Range Rover scale, however, Mr Wiesner said he would be “surprised” if an SVR Evoque was released based on the current-generation model, but added that it would be “possible” for the next vehicle, likely due towards the end of the decade.

“(Evoque) will be heading into five years it’s obviously in the second half of its life.”

he said.

“From a dynamic perspective it doesn’t have a six-cylinder engine, and when it comes down to doing some of those SVO/SVR type products, I imagine you would want to be involved in that very early in its lifecycle.”

All is not lost for Jaguar, though. Mr Wiesner has said that with the brand having launched the new XE and latest XF sedans and F-Pace, attention must now turn to how sporting interest can be maintained in that brand.

“There are all sorts of discussions going on,” he said. “We’ve got the base (Jaguar) range out there now now it’s a matter of what we want to do with it and how we can get more out of it in a Jaguar way.

“We’ve seen what’s happened previously with some of the more dynamic product availability across the range, so I know there is plenty of discussion going on with, what’s next, how do you keep building around in a Jaguar way to make sure we constantly enhance that performance story.” Jaguar’s single current sports sedan offering is the XJ R – but previously the brand has offered a smaller XF R and an even more hardcore XF RS spin off.

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