There are two ways to approach the fastest factory produced Range-Rover ever to roll out of Solihull. You can imagine that you are the intended buyer of this £93,450 162mph monster – place yourself in their position and try to alter your frame of reference to include what they might be looking for a in a car of this type. Or you can judge it purely on its own merits, against its peers and, perhaps more tellingly, against other Land Rover products.
There is very little that isn’t impressive about this first SVR branded product. It sits 8mm lower than the standard V8 supercharged RRS, it has the 550hp/501lb ft engine straight from the F-Type R (mapped the same under full power, with changes for part throttle action), new bodywork, funky bucket seats and switchable exhaust that makes some of the naughtiest parping sounds ever heard in a brisk truck.
The air suspension has been recalibrated to be between 8 and 10% stiffer than the standard car, 21-inch wheels are standard, but most customers have gone for the optional 22-inchers, which include small extension spats to cover the extra width of the 295 section rubber. It’s worth noting that the standard 21in wheel is a normal Land Rover M&S tyre, whereas the 22in is a special high performance item developed for this car.
This is a very fast truck indeed – immediately up there with the Cayenne Turbos and BMW X5Ms, by delivering speed that really shouldn’t be possible in something so large. The motor pulls from zip and keeps pulling into the sixes, the noise with the exhaust in silly mode is pretty extreme and the handling – well, that’s class leading for this type of vehicle.
Despite the wide tracks and rubber, the SVR does a much better job of not tramlining or being disturbed by A and B road cambers and crowns than its rivals – for UK buyers that’s a big advantage. It never feels quite as big as it is too, which is a testament to its agility and recalibrated steering. Initially I thought it turned too quickly, but you soon get used to the quite un-SUV way in which it darts into corners.
And then there’s the whole image thing – and this is where I have to imagine the end user of such a vehicle, because I’m not one of them. To me this is quite an eye-full, and I’d feel a little self-conscious in it (yes, that coming from a 512 TR driver), but I have no doubt that to the people that matter, it looks perfect. It sits squat, wide and punchy. And of course the base RRS is a great looking machine anyway.
Ah yes, the base RRS V8 Supercharged. This vehicle needs a mention because for me it plays both a supporting and mildly destabilising role in the SVR’s existence. Being such an excellent base vehicle it offered the SVR team a superb foundation, but of course it has also meant that eeking out noticeable differences between the two has been much harder. As an example of this, the brakes on the SVR are identical to the V8’s – albeit with extra cooling. That’s unusual on a range-topper of this type. Yes, the SVR is faster and more urgent, but then it is more raucous. It rolls less and can out-corner the base V8, but it doesn’t ride as well and anyone who wants to reach the limits of adhesion in either car on the public road needs sectioning.
We were taken on a small off-road course, still using the large 22-inch performance tyres, and the SVR’s transition from M5-baiter to mud-plodder was remarkable in the extreme. This remains a proper Land Rover and it will go places its on-road performance suggest it shouldn’t.
The new bucket-style seats are excellent, and the drivers’ one adjusts nice and low, which is good. The cabin is mostly unchanged though, apart from some different trim, and I’d have expected some funky SVR branded clock faces to keep the punters happy.
I think Land Rover will sell as many of these as they can build. Global sporty-SUV sales continue to defy flat-earthers like me who struggle to see the point, and this SVR will continue the trend. Much I as I enjoyed it and thought it great fun, the SVR really just served to remind me how special the base V8 RRS is. Not much slower, more comfortable and almost invisible by comparison – and available with the clever 7-seat option that cannot be specified on this new model. I’d take one over this car, but suspect I might be in the minority.