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HomeFEATUREDRANGE ROVER SPORT SVR DRIVEN

RANGE ROVER SPORT SVR DRIVEN

The Range Rover Sport SVR is best described as the mechanical embodiment of Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye, reckons DEON VAN DER WALT. It is graceful, elegant, and dramatic – in a tread-carefully-or-it-may-bite sort of way. Its character changes when you nudge the accelerator pedal, and the engine thrums We Will Rock You. Press the accelerator pedal into the carpet, however, and all symphonic elements are shoved aside, exchanged for a savage V8 baritone that will make other motorists take note of this special vehicle’s imminent arrival.

It is becoming an increasingly popular formula: manufacturers take a middle-of-the-road SUV, tinker under the bonnet, add a set of overly aggressive wheels, wrap said wheels with a thin strip of rubber and sketch a few oversized air-intakes into the design just for good measure – and better airflow. The result then usually amounts to something so staggering that on numbers alone supercars only live in its shadow.

In this segment, the BMW X5M has always set the benchmark in both the performance and dynamic categories, while the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S trumps everything in the performance-figure columns. The problem, however, is that while it is all imposing on paper and tarmac, none of the German titans have that bespoke distinction going for them quite like the Range Rover Sport SVR.

WAIT, IS THAT AN SVR?

Through the years, the classic Range Rover look has steadily evolved. From Land Rover’s first Range Rover Prototype Velar in 1969, which by today’s standards looks like an agricultural implement with a splash of luxury paint, to today’s SVR – the design recipe has not changed much. The exterior styling of Range Rovers is pleasantly understated and tasteful – and in that department, the SVR hits the metaphorical nail right on the head.

Besides some subtle SVR badging, there are also a set of blue brake callipers that handle the business of bringing the massive 21” wheels to a hurried stop, while a pair of ventilation holes atop the bonnet goes about cooling the brakes. At the front, there is also a Range Rover Sport-specific air-intake grille that gulps mighty amounts of air as you drive, while the back plays host to a two-stage exhaust system that flaunts four pipes protruding from the body.

STILL BUSINESS ON THE INSIDE

Few manufacturers know how to chisel a bespoke cabin-space quite like the luxury boffins at Range Rover, and as you would expect, no expense was spared to fuse timeless luxury with bang-up-to-date gadgetry. We especially like the digital instrument cluster that presents all essential driving information in a modern and easy-to-navigate manner.

You are also always aware of the SUV’s athletic prowess as SVR insignias are subtly placed across the cabin. From an SVR greeting on the infotainment system when the ignition turns over, to the seatbacks which have SVR emblems stitched into them.  

And speaking of seats, the Range Rover Sport is marketed as a five-seater, but only four are truly functional. See, to emphasise its sportiness – and arguably upset all luxury convention – the seats have been fashioned after body-hugging racing seats, whereafter it was enveloped in a layer of luxury. The result is some of the most comfortable seats we’ve ever sampled. Unfortunately, it does not come without a chink in the armour: because of the prominent seat design, getting in and out for the taller species of passengers can prove to be difficult, especially when the front occupants are also of the loftier variety.

UNLEASHING THE BEAST

The Range Rover Sport SVR leaves a lasting impression from the moment you press the Stop/Start button and the savage V8 roars to life. The dramatic growl soon dies down, though, and it becomes a comfortable cruiser throatily burbling along with your throttle inputs.

It is not too content with this constant cruising about business for too long, as the 423 kW and 700 Nm eggs you on, challenges you, to press that accelerator ever-so-slightly towards the carpet. It is best not to take the bait, since the bakkie over there, can be over here, in only a matter of seconds.

Soon, however, an off-ramp presents itself, and so too does an opportunity to test just how quickly it can reach the national speed limit. Short answer; it only takes an instant. Flick the gear lever left into sport mode, and you feel the available power through the seat of your pants.   

Press the accelerator pedal, and all hell breaks loose. You are shoved into the seatback as it leaps forward with the ferocity of a nuclear explosion. The exhaust note changes from a burble to mechanical thunder, coupled with the singing from the supercharger unit. And just like that, the SVR takes care of the zero to 100 km/h sprint in only 4.5 seconds.

LAST WORD

The Range Rover Sport SVR is a bit of an odd duckling compared to its competitors. It is not as poised and focused as the BMW X5M through tight corners, nor is it as quick in a straight-line sprint as the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S.

So, you might ask, what is the point? Well, for starters, the SVR is by far the most luxurious of these top-tier performance SUVs, and then there is the big C-word: Character. And that itself is a rare quality these days.

Report & Images by DEON VAN DER WALT

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