2015 Range Rover Sport SVR Review
Big, brash, boisterous and very, very blue
Published: December 1st, 2015
What ever happened to the bare bones, rough and tumble Land Rover Defender with its rear jump seats and hose-out interior? Gone are those days, my friends, since Land Rover of late seems all about luxury and performance. The latest RR Sport is evidence that field-and-stream Elvis has left the building, perhaps forever. Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, the now official performance arm of the brand, has gotten hold of the Range Rover Sport and turned it into something both dreams and nightmares are made of. With a performance-tuned engine that spits out 550 horses and 502 lb-ft of torque, the SVR is an unequivocal monster, the fastest Land Rover ever made - and one we attempted to tame when we recently got behind the wheel.
- Impressive power available at any speed
- Ample comfort for driver and passengers thanks to superb seats and space
- Dark trim sets it apart from "lesser" Land Rovers
- Handles like a tall sports sedan
- Invites lead feet and then guzzles your gas
- As subtle as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Exterior: Chunky AND slick
This is Jaguar Land Rover's first Special Vehicles Operations exercise - and it's a looker, especially in the popping Estoril Blue paint treatment. The first thing you notice is that the color is meant to be bold and intimidating, especially when combined with ample black trim on the grille and front fascia, roof, mirrors and fender vents. The front vents are now massive for increased air flow, and though the shape of the car itself hasn't changed at all, the overall look is one of serious business. It makes the base SUV look pretty pedestrian by comparison. Park it next to any SUV, even a Porsche Cayenne, and the SVR will easily get more attention. But the look is tastefully done and Estoril Blue is the color of choice, far better than red, black, white or silver options Land Rover offers.
Interior: Sporty space
Though you'd never call the interior of the Range Rover Sport regal, it is a comfortable place to be - and the SVR is that much more so. Aside from the ridiculously impressive racing seats and the massive carbon fiber treatment, there's not much that's different about the SVR's cabin. A mix of greys and blacks, our tester's interior looked race-ready. The huge sport seats looked like enormous cobra heads ready to strike. They're laterally very supportive and incredibly comfortable over long drives. Even the second row seats gets similar treatment with side bolsters for passengers who will likely get tossed around by the very excited driver.
Unlike their Jaguar F-Type Coupe R we recently drove, the SVR gets real carbon fiber, and lots of it. The center console and transmission tunnel get big swaths of it, and the execution is great - plenty of visual layers that prove it's the real deal. Everything else is standard RR Sport, and it's all very easy to use, though we'd like to see improvements with the SVR's user interface that's a bit slow to respond despite the fact that it's easy to read. Climate controls are very legible on the three large knobs below the touchscreen. The instrument cluster is also clean and crisp, though we lament the absence of real analog gauges, replaced by electronic versions that seem a bit antiseptic.
Driving Impressions: More than just fast
It's hard to say how unprepared just about everyone is with the power the SVR delivers. Frankly, it's pretty alarming - and accompanied by a raucous exhaust note - the whole cacophony is downright intoxicating. Depress the throttle, and the 5,530 pound SVR launches forward with the kind of acceleration reserved for supercars. Tests show it'll do 60 mph from a standstill in a hair over four seconds, and we believe them. The acceleration is earthshattering, and what the SVR does with the weight is just as astounding, cornering hard and flat with steering that's about as good as a performance SUV can get. The aluminum structure may have saved some weight, but the SVR is still a heavy beast. Yet Land Rover has found a way to more than compensate for the heft.
That being said, the engine gets nothing new in the way of actual hardware. Special Vehicle Operations merely massaged the software in order to extract the additional power. We don't care much about how they got there, we only care that they did. And along with that power is the ability to manage it with a faster shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that speeds up the upshifts, provides rev-matching upon downshift and more aggressive diff-lock that works much like torque vectoring and enhances the SVR's handling. As aggressive and powerful as the SVR is, the powers to keep everything in check prevent you from staining your skivvies - leaving only a smile plastered across your face.
The SVR's ride is butter smooth, too. Jaunts around town and over uneven pavement proved comfortable, not jarring. Freeway speeds are effortless, and highly illegal ones are tempting since the SVR gets there in the blink of an eye. The only thing that prevents you from hammering the throttle at every opportunity is the fuel expenditure. Mileage is rated at 14 city/19 highway, but we're guessing our numbers were a bit less due to our level of excitement.
Final Impressions: It does it all
Ask us who needs this monster, and we'll concede that it serves no real purpose - aside from the fact that it has actual Land Rover off-road chops, even in street tires. The Terrain Response 2 system ensures it's ready to tackle just about anything from rocks to loose sand. But owners will pretty much never take it that far. But the SVR's game isn't about need. It's about incredible automotive firepower that happens to come in a real SUV. It's loud, offensive and just about everyone who sees it and hears it will want one, even if it makes them hate themselves.
Price & Specifications
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Power Output: 550 horsepower / 502 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 14 city / 19 highway
Base Price: $111,470
As Tested: $126,360 (incl. $995 destination)
Options on our Test Vehicle:
Switchable Active Exhaust, Quad Tailpipes, 21" SVR 5 Split Spoke Wheels, SVR Badges on Grille and Tailgate, Blue Brake Calipers (Brembo Front), Unique Roof Colored Spoiler, Unique SVR Front and Rear Bumpers, Colored Side Molding w/ Black Lower Finisher, Gloss Black (Mirror Caps, Hood & Fender Vents, Grille Finisher, Tailgate Plinth "Range Rover" lettering on Hood & Tailgate and Lower Front Bumper Vents), Morzine Headliner, 14-Way Front SVR Sports Seats w/ Lumbar, Adjustable Bolsters & Memory, Front & Rear Heated Seats, Dark Engine Turned Aluminum Trim, Noble Paddle Shifters, Split 60/40 folding Rear SVR Seats, Meridian Signature Audio, Adaptive Cruise Control w/ queue assist, InControl Remote & Protect (4 Years), Ebony Headliner, InControl Secure, Premium Metallic Paint, SVR Carbon Fiber Engine Cover, Santorini Black Contrast Roof, Carbon Fiber Veneer, Heated Windscreen
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport, click here: 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport.