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How fast can 2.3 tons of motoring opulence be made to go?

20.04.2016

Give a Range Rover Sport to JLR's Special Vehicle Racing (SVR) division and 2.5 tonnes of steel and aluminium can get to 100km/h from standstill in 4.7 seconds.

That is fast for a supercar but for a big SUV it’s insane!

I recently had the opportunity to drive the new Range Rover Sport SVR from Land Rover Empangeni and taking it through the rolling hills outside town proved to be a real unique experience.

Technical

The Range Rover Sport SVR’s claim to fame is the 405kW/680Nm, supercharged 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. It’s the same engine as in the Autobiography model but more refined as it also features in the Jaguar F-Type R. Engineers left the drivetrain almost unchanged and the SVR still has a transfer box and Range Rover’s Terrain Response Two traction control system.

Changes and additions they had to make are new electronic controls for the eight-speed automatic transmission for faster shifts, revised settings for the electronic locking rear differential for enhanced traction and directional control, and the suspension received firmer bushes and new pistons for the air springs. Twenty-one-inch wheels make for a wider track when compared to other Range Rover Sport models.

Visually

The SVR can be set apart from ‘normal’ Range Rover Sport models by the enlarged front air intakes on a revised front bumper, new black grilles on the nose, bonnet and front wings, a new roof spoiler and a rear valance that includes a rear diffuser and quad tailpipes.

Blue 20-inch Brembo brake calipers are discreetly staring from behind the alloy spokes and on the back an SVR badge shows AMG drivers that you can give them a run for their money. Inside, the Range Rover Sport already has a premium-plus cabin, so all that designers changed is the seating. Two black leather SVR bucket seats in the front and another two in the rear have been fitted. The 825W, 19-speaker Meridian surround sound system is a classy touch but do you want it to interfere with the exhaust note?

Performance

Ninety percent of performance carmakers go the turbo route, but JLR is sticking with superchargers in all of its V6 and V8 petrol engines. Driving a supercharged car is a lot different than its turbo counterpart, even though outputs might be in the same region.

Everything the engine has, is available immediately and the smoothness remarkable. Gunning the Range Rover Sport SVR through the hills, and driving it through the paddle shifts on the steering, it sounds like a supercar, accelerates like a supercar and even brakes like a supercar.

It’s only in the bends that you are reminded that you’re in something that weighs 2.5 tonnes when you feel gravity pulling at the SUV when at speed. Those massive low profile tyres, together with the air suspension, give a ride which is a fine balance between performance in comfort. If you want an SUV that behaves like a supercar and have R2-million, the Range Rover Sport SVR is something to look into.

I would just like to see JLR include some sort of advance driving pack with the purchase because driving a high performance SUV like this takes a good dollop of skill, mixed with a healthy dose of self-discipline.

Article written by Val van der Walt
20.04.2016
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