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The Range Rover SVR is the fastest Land Rover the automaker has ever built. It's what happens when Land Rover's engineers get tired of watching the Jaguar guys have all of the fun at the race track and have a go at building a sports car of their own. The automaker even took the SVR to the Nurburgring's Nordschleife where it lapped the Green Hell in 8 minutes and 14 seconds. To put that into perspective, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo will make the trip in 8:13 -- the SVR is in good company.
But mostly, the Range Rover Sport SVR is an answer to one very simple request: more power, please.
We'll eat our vegetables first and talk about the tech. The SVR uses the Range Rover Sport Supercharged as its template, so the new model features the same dated tech in its dashboard. The Land Rover navigation and infotainment system is built around an 8-inch color touchscreen and what looks like the same software Land Rover's been running in its vehicles since the turn of the century. I won't belabor the point here, we've already taken an in-depth look at the Range Rover Sport's tech, but the low-resolution graphics and barely viewable camera feeds feel like even more of a slap in the face here when you consider the SVR's over-$111K starting price.
As it's a luxury vehicle, there are some nice touches to be found in and around the cabin -- puddle lights that throw Land Rover logos on the ground, an adjustable suspension that dips to access-level ride height at a button's touch, and the massive dual-pane skylight. However, Land Rover then tosses its class out of the window by fitting the SVR with some of the tackiest seats in the business. The sport seats mimic the style of deeply bolstered race car buckets, but don't really provide a ton of support. And, well, just look at them...
Now, on to the meat; the "more power, please" part of the SVR's formula that you've all been waiting for. The SVR starts, again, with the Range Rover Sport Supercharged as its template, featuring the same 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine. Then it turns up the wick.
Power is stated at between 542 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque. (Note: Range Rover USA's website states 550 horses, but the automaker's official specs state 550PS, which converts to about 542 ponies measured the 'Murican way. We're erring on the side of caution and going with the more conservative figures.) The SVR makes these gains thanks to more supercharger boost and tweaks to the ECU and intake.
That power flows through a revised version of the same eight-speed automatic transmission from the Sport Supercharged and the same 4x4 power train. Here, the gearbox has been retuned for quicker shifts (up to 50 percent faster) and features revised programing that rev-matches downshifts and holds gears when cornering.
How much faster is the SVR? It hits 60 mph faster than you can say Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR. (Admittedly, that is a mouthful.) The 5,000-pound SUV sprints from 0 to 62 (100kph) in just 4.5 seconds, which is impressive, but only about a half second faster than the Range Rover Sport Supercharged upon which it is based. Top speed sees its cap raised from 140 mph to 162 mph.
On the road, the SVR doesn't really feel any faster in a straight line than the standard Sport Supercharged. This is partly because, well, it isn't really, and partly because the elevated ride height and seating position tend to dull your sense of connection to the road and diminish the sensation of speed. On one hand, I like that the SVR's smooth and quiet freeway ride makes 90 mph feel like a calm 65. On the other hand, it does make this high-performance SUV feel nothing like a high-performance sports car.
Most interesting is that the EPA-estimated fuel economy is unaffected by the almost additional horsepower. The stated numbers still sit at 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mph combined, but you're not going to get anywhere near those numbers driving the SVR the way we think you will.
My favorite addition to the Range Rover Sport SVR's bag of tricks is its Switchable Active Exhaust. This feature, borrowed from the Jaguar F-Type, allows the driver to toggle the exhaust between two settings: loud and very loud. The very loud setting frees up the SVR's breathing and adds a rawness to the Range Rover's growl that is simultaneously out of place on such a large vehicle and just ridiculous enough to work with the SVR's bonkers image. Hearing the the exhaust pop and burble when lifting is also extremely amusing and almost worth the price of admission.
Land Rover doesn't overlook the fact that the SVR will need to stop faster too and almost overcompensates with the addition of 15-inch, six-piston brakes by Brembo. These stoppers shave off speed when stomped like you've dropped an anchor, but are also easy to live with in traffic. The brakes peek from behind massive 21-inch wheels shod in street-friendly 275/45R21 tires. If the Active Exhaust is the most fun addition to the SVR's toolkit, these handling upgrades are the most functional.
Everywhere else, the SVR is largely identical to the Sport Supercharged model. It rides on the same suspension and with the same geometry, but gets slight tweaks all over for better on-road performance. However, it doesn't sacrifice any of its off-road pedigree. The Range Rover Sport SVR still has the same Terrain Response system, permanent four-wheel drive system and enhanced air suspension as the rest of the Range Rover Sport family. A more aerodynamic (and removable) chin spoiler reduces the SUV's hill approach and departure angles by fractions of a degree, but the SVR is still just a tire swap away from going from track to trail.
A 2015 Range Rover Sport Supercharged is a fairly competent 510-horsepower SUV that starts at $79,950. This 2015 Range Rover Sport SVR is a slightly more competent 542-horsepower SUV that starts at $110,475. The active exhaust is fun, the increased power is always welcome and the brake upgrade is a game changer, but I can't help but think that the sum of these upgrades isn't worth a more than $30K premium.
In the UK, the SVR starts at £95,150 and the Australian asking price starts at AU$218,500.
And we haven't even scratched the surface of our as-tested model's options, which include a $4,150 Meridian audio system, $1,295 for adaptive cruise, $845 in InConnect upgrades and a $2,300 heated windshield. We've also got about $4,800 in styling upgrades and a $995 destination charge, which brings us to $126,360 as tested. Yikes.
Perhaps the Range Rover Sport SVR's greatest accomplishment is making the BMW X5 M look like a bargain. The Bavarian brute is less expensive to start, boasts more power from its turbocharged engine and is likely a better performer on a twisty bit of road. The SVR is absolutely nuts, but the fact that the $98,800 Bimmer is a better buy is even more so.