Mercedes-Benz has AMG. BMW has M. And now, Land Rover has its own specialty division: SVO. Short for Special Vehicle Operations, the newly formed group has two subdivisions with distinct aims. One is superlative luxury, represented by the Range Rover Sport SVAutobiography that was shown at this year’s New York International Auto Show. The other is line-topping performance, embodied by the all-new Range Rover Sport SVR, the fastest and most powerful Range Rover to date.
Compared with the standard Range Rover Sport, the Range Rover Sport SVR gets a 40 hp boost from a retuned, 5.0-liter, supercharged V-8, good for 550 hp and 502 ft lbs of torque. The 8-speed automatic transmission is modified to deliver upshifts that are 50 percent quicker. The total package is enough to propel the SVR from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which is not shabby for a 5,148-pound SUV. Visually, the SVR is set apart by a unique front bumper with larger air intakes, a rear spoiler, a quad tailpipe, and unique wheel styles—available in 21-inch or 22-inch varieties. An optional sapphire-hued metallic paint, Estoril Blue, is available exclusively on the SVR.
But power alone does not equal performance; ride and handling is what really makes the Range Rover Sport SVR shine. It uses the same aluminum chassis found on the standard Range Rover Sport, but gets a specially tuned, adaptive air suspension that delivers a taut, composed ride, even during a turn around the racetrack at Monticello Motor Club in New York’s Catskill Mountains. While the SVR’s weight is unavoidably noticeable when it is thrown to and fro, it remains poised and in control around corners and when laying hard into the 6-piston Brembo sport brakes. Then there is the SVR’s active exhaust, which produces a deep, satisfying growl.
On a moderately strenuous off-road course not far from the track, the Range Rover Sport SVR proved just as capable as any Land Rover, though the firmer suspension made for a stiffer ride over bumps and ruts. All-season Continental CrossContact tires handled mud just as agreeably as pavement.
Included in the $110,475 starting price is a panoramic glass roof, a 19-speaker Meridian premium sound system, and perforated leather sport seats in a choice of four colors unique to the SVR—including two-tone schemes such as Ebony Black and Pimento Red. The cabin is more focused on sporty driving than on long road trips, and even rear-seat passengers get body-hugging sport seats. Aluminum interior trim can be augmented with optional carbon fiber on the door panels, center console, dashboard, and steering-wheel bezel.
Though the Range Rover Sport SVR is not the most powerful SUV in its class (it is bested by the 567 hp BMW X5 M and the 570 hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo S), it offers a compelling combination of power, luxury, and capable handling. (landrover.com)