Screaming Good: Range Rover Sport SVR Wails on the Road, Track
Some engines sing. They are the mechanical equivalent of an orchestra, the sound full, robust, and complete. Other engines purr, barely audible to most passersby.
Then there is the rare occasion of an engine standing out with a wail like none other. It’s Brian Johnson in the chorus of “Highway to Hell” or Chester Bennington in the chorus of “Numb.” It cuts, it grates, and it’s perfectly pitched.
The Range Rover Sport SVR’s 5.0-liter, supercharged V-8 does more than create 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. It screams with such a unique tenor that people will cock their head to one side and remain quiet as they try to decipher the melody that belongs to some vicious high-end sports car. They may not even realize that sharply dressed SUV barreling past them is the culprit.
The SVR is more than just an SUV with a thrilling sound, though engineers devised the electronically controlled two-stage active exhaust to deliver just that. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine delivers excellent performance on any city road, highway, or racetrack. Actually, it’s more capable than that.
During my day of test-driving the SVR, I took it from a muddy bog to Monticello Motor Club’s racetrack without ever getting out of the driver’s seat. Even though Land Rover‘s Special Vehicle Operations division created this beast for high performance, they never took away its off-roading capabilities. Its air suspension can still lift it more than 4 inches, and it can still ford 33.5 inches of water with its standard 22-inch wheels.
After trudging through a mud pit and using the SVR’s transfer case low-range mode, I drove directly onto the track, put it in high, and let the four-wheel-drive system chew up asphalt instead. Land Rover claims the SVR can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, and there’s no reason to doubt that number, as it feels extremely fast.
The center differential allows for a normal 50/50 torque split between axles, but it can send 100 percent of the engine’s power to either axle should a situation deem that necessary.
Land Rover adjusted its dynamic active rear locking differential to allow it to lock earlier and more robustly to improve traction and stability. The biggest problem with the SVR on the track is that it weights more than 5,000 pounds, so it wants to slide out of corners and the brakes get too hot too soon. (Land Rover tried to correct this by adding six-piston Brembo calipers to the 15-inch ventilated front discs and 14.4-inch ventilated rear discs, but after the second lap, there was noticeable brake fade.) Additionally, the body still will roll with the corners, but not nearly as much as you might expect. When comparing the SVR to any SUV, it does extremely well. It’s just not a race car, though many drivers may not realize that right away because of its great performance.
The variable speed electronic steering felt great at any speed, tightening up at high speeds but remaining easy to spin at lower speeds. The mostly aluminum chassis remains very stiff during any ride and includes a fully independent suspension with double wishbones at the front and multilink rear gives the SVR a very stable platform. The four-corner air suspension includes continuously variable dampers that monitor the vehicle movements 500 times a second and instantly adjust.
The end result is a smooth ride both on the track and off-road. I wouldn’t expect to see many SVRs attempting to cross a tropical jungle in Central America anytime soon, but no matter where they are, the drivers and passengers will be extremely comfortable.
The interior remains on par with the luxurious Range Rover Sport with added SVR appointments such as quilted sport seats and exclusive white piping. Trim pieces are turned aluminum and optional carbon fiber. Throughout the cabin, the SVR is well-crafted with top-grade materials. All told there are four different interior color packages available.
Some interior pieces are straight from the Range Rover Sport, which is certainly not a bad place to start. One serious gripe with the SVR is that it uses the same navigation system that other Land Rovers use. It’s slow and can often leave you hoping the turn you just made was the correct one. (You’ll find out about 10 seconds after you made the turn.)
No detail was overlooked, and the entire interior feels extremely luxurious. Of course, it should — the SVR starts at $112,000, putting itself out of range for most buyers.
Much like the interior, the exterior pushes the Range Rover Sport design even further with an exclusive Estoril Blue as one of its seven color choices. The SVR adds black trim around the vehicle.
A more aggressive front end includes larger trapezoidal air intakes below the redesigned hood vents. The SVR’s menacing front end is highlighted with the headlights’ LED bars. In addition to SVR badging on the back, there’s also a high-level spoiler and a new rear bumper and gloss black diffuser above the quad exhaust pipes. From any angle this SUV looks ready for the road. It looks special.
The SVR bodes well for the Land Rover’s new Special Vehicle Operations division. It adds athleticism to a very sporty vehicle, leaving drivers with even more power, more luxury, and more exclusivity. And that exhaust tone, well, that should get nominated for a Grammy. It will take your breath away.
|2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door, SUV|
|ENGINE||5.0L/550-hp /502-lb-ft supercharged V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT||5,150 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||191.8 x 78.1 x 68.1-72.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/19/16 mpg (est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||241/177 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.22 lb/mile (est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Now|