I dunno about you, but when I think “Range Rover,” I don’t think “crazy fast.” But now, the Ranger Rover Sport SVR — the first to wear the automaker’s new SVR performance tuning badge — begs to change the way I think.
Land Rover said in a press release that the Range Rover Sport SVR will get a honking 5.0-liter, 550-horsepower, 502-ft-lb supercharged V8 engine capable of pushing the SUV to 62 MPH from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds on the way to a 162-MPH top speed on the track.
That’s not necessarily news — Land Rover and others have built SUVs capable of fast acceleration. Four-and-a-half seconds to 100 km/h is none too shabby, mind you, but luxury marques can hit that figure. It’s been done. What’s news — at least to me — is that Land Rover, of all marques, has built an SUV that not only has a lot of giddyup, but also has a lot of hold on: The Range Rover Sport SVR reportedly laid down a time of eight minutes, 14 seconds around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Take a moment to let this sink in: A Land Rover SUV is faster around the Green Hell than the eight-minute, 15-second BMW 1 Series M Coupe. It’s faster than the eight-minute, 16.15-second Honda (Acura) NSX. It’s faster than the sneaky-fast eight-minute, 16-second Porsche Cayman S we tested a few months ago. In short, the Range Rover Sport SVR is a crazy-sticky handling machine.
For this level of handling, Land Rover credits the Range Rover Sport SVR’s aluminum architecture as well as a suspension and chassis setup that received gobs of attention. The release said the mostly-aluminum suspension setup is fully independent and double-isolated, with wide double-wishbones at the front and an advanced multilink setup in the rear. Four-corner air suspension and Adaptive Dynamics with continuously variable magnetorheological dampers monitors vehicle movements at least 500 times a second, adjusting damping force almost instantly to the road surface and driver inputs. The air springs feature a modified piston profile for sportier handling and composure, while the Adaptive Dynamics damper settings have been tuned for increased agility, the press release said. Rear suspension subframe bushings, upgraded by 20%, reportedly ensure a connected response to driver inputs.
The star of the Range Rover Sport SVR remains its engine, however, with the press release calling it the most powerful Land Rover vehicle ever produced. Engineers took the existing all-aluminum Land Rover 5.0-liter V8 engine and tweaked it to make 40 horsepower and 41 ft-lbs more than ever before, the release said. That was made possible by retuning the Bosch engine management system, increasing maximum supercharger pressure, installing larger air intakes into the front bumper to reduce the temperature of pressurized air before it reaches the supercharger, and sharpening throttle response and gear-change logic.
By the way, an eight-speed automatic transmission handles all that power, the release said, and can be controlled manually via steering wheel paddles or via the console-mounted shift knob. Full automatic mode is the default mode, however. The transmission sends power to both axles, with a two-speed transfer case set up for permanent four-wheel drive at a 50-50 torque split front-to-rear unless extreme conditions call for a change, in which case up to 100% of torque can be sent to either end, the release said. That should make it handle just as well on-road as it does off-road — and not surprisingly, Land Rover touted the Range Rover Sport SVR’s off-road capabilities.
We highly doubt we’d take a Range Rover Sport SVR off-roading, should we get the chance to test one — but you can bet we’d enjoy having one for a track day.