Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR — Loaded with performance

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The second-generation Range Rover Sport arrived in 2014 conceived alongside the all-new slightly larger Range Rover, and we discovered a year ago that it is a vehicle truly deserving of the "sport" moniker — endowed with a quick, agile personality that seems as anxious to take on winding roads as the most rugged rock-strewn and water-infested outback.

We found it lighter, sportier and more fuel efficient than the first generation Sport, but with a bigger cabin and more passenger space. Like the bigger Range Rover, the Sport is built on an aluminum chassis to reduce weight, and it has dropped as much as 700 pounds depending on engine selection. Adding to the enhanced handling prowess is a standard electronic air suspension system.

For 2015 the Sport gets another designation — SVR. It's not hard to understand why the Sport was selected as the first product turned out by Jaguar Land Rover's new Special Vehicle Operations performance division, which will serve in much the same capacity as BMW's M Division, Mercedes' AMG and Volvo's Polestar. The special edition Sport SVR gets a returned version of Range Rover's 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 making 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. That's 40 more horsepower and 41 additional pound-feet of torque over the Sport Supercharged model.

The standard eight-speed automatic transmission with rev-matching downshifts and four-wheel-drive chassis has been tuned to complement the rather astonishing available performance.

Land Rover says the Sport SVR can rocket from 0-to-60 in 4.5 seconds — we gave it a couple of pedal-to-the-medal runs and can report neck-snapping launches equating by our experienced seat-of-the pants "stop watch" to sub-5-second times. Land Rover also claims an electronically limited top track speed of 162 mph, but we'll have to take their word on that claim.

Showcasing an electronically controlled two-stage active exhaust, the SVR produces an inspired soundtrack at higher engine speeds while maintaining refinement during steady highway driving. We found it loud with the ability to raise our adrenaline level. Straight ahead speed is not all that this go-fast Range Rover is all about. We discovered that the SVR is as capable of carving up twisting roads as most sport sedans.

Emphasizing their rather substantial all-terrain capability, SRV vehicles are equipped with 21-inch alloy wheels with 275/45 R21 all-season Continental Cross Contact tires. So if leaving the fast lane and going deep off road is the order of the day, the SVR answers the call with two transfer-case speeds, six off-road terrain settings, seven-plus inches of adjustable ride height, 10-plus inches of wheel travel, and a max wading depth of 33.5 inches.

In addition to the SVR badges on the front and back, the hot rod Sport can be differentiated from the standard Sport models by a revamped front bumper that channels air to the engine, bigger hood vents, new front fenders with larger perforations, quad tailpipe tips, and a new rear spoiler.

Inside, Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations has differentiated the SVR with distinctive leather sports seats. The seats proved comfortable and offered additional lateral support during spirited driving. Full 14-way electric adjustment is offered. The vehicle's Sports Command Driving Position and generous rear legroom are unaffected.

Land Rover has designed a more sporting feel into the Sport's cockpit by lowering the driving height and raising the center console. The rakish dashboard, first-class materials and attractive wood and metal inlays add up to one of the richest looking cabins in the segment. Also, the diameter of the steering wheel is smaller than the Range Rover and the rim much thicker. The pop-up rotary gear knob, which we are sure some people felt was very cool, has been replaced by a more sports-car-like shifter.

Granted, the SVR edition is loaded with most of the good stuff offered on the standard-edition Sport as well as the incredibly proficient supercharged V-8, but it's still possible to equip the SUV with numerous expensive extras. For instance, our test vehicle carried a base price of $111,470 including destination charge and a bottom line of $119,325 with the addition of several options. They included the 1,700-watt Meridian Signature Audio Package with 23 speakers for $4,150; the Drive Assistance Package with lane departure warning; perpendicular and parallel parking for $1,560; and adaptive cruise control.

Keep in mind car-buying site says the SVR edition is currently selling for about $2,000 over MSRP in many areas of the country. And here's another thing — the Supercharged Limited Edition with the same V-8 but with 40 fewer horses, can be purchased for under $95,000.

Base price: $111,470; as driven, $119,325
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 550 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 502 pound-feet @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: four wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 115.1 inches
Length: 191.8 inches
Curb weight: 5,148 pounds
Turning circle: 40.4 feet
Towing capacity: 6,600 pounds
Luggage capacity: 27.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 62.2 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 27.7 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 19 highway, 14 city
0-60: 4.5 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, BMW X6 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE63

The Good
• Incredibly powerful
• Sports car-like handling
• Useable as a daily driver
• Quality interior materials

The Bad
• Gas guzzler

The Ugly
• High price of entry