This is not a car for shrinking violets. Those looking to make subtle, inconspicuous progress will need to look elsewhere.
It’s not necessarily the size, though at over two metres wide and 1.78m tall the Range Rover Sport SVR has plenty of presence. Nor is it the colour, the Estoril Blue paintwork just subtle enough to blend in with the crowd while prompting numerous admiring comments.
No, it’s the noise. The outrageous rasp that escapes the SVR’s tailpipes swivels heads and widens eyes wherever it passes. It’s a crisp, sharp racket that makes the SVR liable to be done for disturbing the peace – and then you find the button that makes it even louder and liberates a volley of machine-gun fire on the overrun.
The engine, like the noise itself, is awesome. Range Rover claims the Sport can hit 100km/h in 4.7sec but it feels significantly faster than that. We wouldn’t be surprised if it knocked half-a-second off that claim judging by the way it rears up and charges down the road.
Making the most of the enormous power is the slick eight-speed automatic, which delivers swift, responsive changes whether left to its own devices in Sport or prompted by the paddles, though the amount of torque on offer means it matters little if you accidentally leave it a gear high.
Putting all the power to the ground is no problem thanks to all-wheel drive, but it might be that this much power might be asking a little too much of the Range Rover Sport chassis. Even locked in Dynamic mode, roll, dive and squat are pronounced, to the point that the steering goes light under hard acceleration.
Even fitted with $4800 worth of enormous optional high-performance tyres (295/40 R22 Continental ContiSportContact 5s) grip levels are easily overcome, with heavy understeer if you barrel into a corner too fast (easy to do despite impressively powerful brakes) followed by plenty of off-throttle oversteer if you trail the brakes into a bend.
The diffs are set up brilliantly – the SVR definitely feels like it’s predominantly driven from the rear – and will hold the tail there briefly before firing it towards the next corner in another bombardment of exhaust noise.
Trying to wrestle it into submission is actually quite fun, but you’re still trying to coerce 2355kg of off-roader into something it doesn’t really want to do. Despite Range Rover’s claims, it’s still really too big and too heavy to behave like a sports car. Lugging around all the off-road gear that a Range Rover ‘needs’ to have certainly doesn’t help.
Perhaps the problem is one of expectation? Range Rover made a big song and dance about the SVR’s abilities, including quoting a Nurburgring lap time, but in reality, it’s not as sharp as the BMW X5 M (though has much more character), let alone the Cayenne Turbo S.
We’d stick with the regular supercharged V8 Range Rover Sport or, more likely, split the SVR’s as-tested $258,080 between a $90K Jaguar F-Pace for the family and $150K Jaguar F-Type V6 S manual for the weekend. Why compromise when you can have the best of both worlds?
Engine: 5000cc V8, DOHC, 32v, supercharger
Power: 405kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 680Nm @ 2500rpm
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)
Price: $228,910 (w/optional 22s)
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