Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 9, 2019
Stuffing performance goodies and five hundred horses into a mid-size SUV is a preposterous proposition and in a sane and logistical world, grotesque abominations like the BMW X6 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 would cease to exist. But they do, and not only do they sell in droves, but they also command astronomical price tags justified by their outrageous performance. They override their humble roots as an honest family hauler and provide the speed, adrenaline, and road presence to satisfy high-net-worth clientele. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Which brings us to the Range Rover Sport SVR, It’s the last three letters that you want to pay attention to, as it separates the men from the boys. SVO, which stands for Special Vehicle Operations, is Land Rover’s specialty department that tunes these uber-SUVs, and R is the designation for maximum performance. As such, the Range Rover Sport SVR has been beefed up with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine tuned to produce 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, 57 hp more than the standard V8, all through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The SVR will sprint from 0-100 km/h in a speedy 4.5 seconds, though not quite fast enough to decimate the like-minded BMW X5 M (4.2 seconds) and Porsche Cayenne Turbo (3.9 s).
Despite lagging behind in sheer speed, the overly sensitive supercharger actually makes the SVR feel quicker off the line than its turbocharged rivals. The violent immediacy of acceleration will take your breath away as it steamrolls to the limiter like an anxious pitbull let off its leash. I wouldn’t say that the SVR actually enjoys being thrown around corners at high speeds but it’s four-corner air suspension, brake-based torque vectoring, and fairly measured steering keeps drivers confident that there is enough grip to make it through.
And the noise, oh the noise! While the standard Range Rover Sport V8 revs with a sonorous, baritone soundtrack, the SVR is an entirely different species with a two-stage active exhaust and a dedicated button that opens up the electronically controlled valves - a quick dial to the thunder gods. With even the slightest prod of the accelerator, the SVR buzzes like a chainsaw and howls in a state of frenzy, much like the Jaguar F-Type SVR that utilizes the same setup. It gives you goosebumps, makes you grin, and has you worried (or pleased) about breaking a dozen noise by-laws. Not only that, but the obnoxious pops and bangs emitted when lifting off the throttle would make you believe there’s a stowaway refugee hiding somewhere in the trunk firing a Benelli M4 without discretion. I hate to bring the Lamborghini Urus and BMW X5 M into the equation because both are sonically pleasing in isolation, but the SVR breathes on an octave above. “How is this exhaust even legal?,” I often asked myself. You can have a listen to the SVR in our Exhaust Notes video here.
What’s surprising about the SVR’s versatility is how it can stow that gun barrel away and treat occupants to a gentle and composed ride. In Comfort Mode, the air springs soften up, the dampers are absorbent, and it regains its civil manners. The rage has settled, the gods have been given their ambrosia, and it’s time for their afternoon nap. But visual subtlety is the complete opposite of what’s going on here, with more carbon fibre than there is salt in the Dead Sea, and a matte orange paint that will set you back a cool $7,800. The interior is a leather-clad first-class lounge littered with amenities that will keep everyone warm, comfortable, and connected. Ambient lighting, soft closing doors, a panoramic sunroof, you name it. The Range has got it.
And for nearly $170,000 as-tested, it better have it. You see, the moment you flip the ignition, your world is taken over and enveloped by a surreal, symphonic soundtrack and suddenly, nothing else seems to matter. Not even the gauge readout displaying a ghastly average of 18.9 L/100km - blame the way we’re driving. Just keep in mind though, that the word ‘quiet’ is not in the SVR vocabulary. Whether or not the exhaust valves are open, it will drone at highway speeds and the noise is even louder from the back seats where the constant buzz is akin to leaving a lawnmower running in the backyard.
The very concept of a performance SUV is absurd and downright silly, especially for those without the monetary means to actually afford one. Nobody needs an SVR, in the same way that nobody needs a Birkin when a five-cent plastic bag from Shoppers Drug Mart will do just fine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what these brands have set out to do: exploit our emotionally-driven propensities with a product that simultaneously strokes our ego and opens the dopamine floodgates. Close competitors like the BMW X5 M ($112,400), Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($141,800), and Mercedes-AMG G 63 ($167,700) all follow the same mantra and while each have their own strengths and advantages, the SVR’s rambunctious exhaust, wild ride, and sheer road presence clear the board.
Model: 2019 Range Rover Sport SVR
Paint Type: Madagascar Orange - Satin ($7,800)
Base Price: $133,000
Price as Tested: $169,940
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,879 / 2,073 (mirrors folded) / 1,803
Curb weight (kg): 2,300
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Horsepower: 575 hp @ 6,000 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 18.9