The first draft of this road test was rejected for being two words long, one of them apparently “wholly unsuitable for a family newspaper”. So here’s the second attempt.
This is the fastest car Land Rover has ever built. On the surface that might not sound that impressive but when you consider that the standard supercharged Range Rover Sport 5.0 can hit 155mph it starts to hit home how special the SVR is.
From the outside it’s relatively subtle. A gleaming Fuji White Range Rover Sport is never inconspicuous but the modifications to bumpers, vents, wings and spoilers add a certain amount of extra muscle to the car’s appearance without going overboard. In fact, unless you’re a real aficionado only the two tiny circular SVR badges hint at what lurks beneath. Even the bespoke 22-inch alloys don’t look out of place.
Inside the SVR continues the softly softly approach to changes over the standard model. The usual luxuries and toys are still in place and while the seats have been replaced with exclusive SVR buckets front and rear you can still fold the rear seats forward should you want to transport a wardrobe at 160mph.
Of course, the changes to the standard RR Sport are more than cosmetic. The Special Vehicles Operations wizards have taken the blown 5.0-litre V8 and squeezed an extra 40bhp and 41lb/ft out of it. This and a heavily reworked and faster-reacting gearbox mean the Range Rover now hits 60mph in 4.5 seconds and will go on to an electronically limited 162mph. In a car that weighs 2.3 tonnes that’s wholly ridiculous. And massively addictive. The engine seems to offer a never-ending wave of shove and responds instantly to any input, begging you to hit the loud pedal again and again.
In some ways the SVR’s pace is contradictory. Mash the pedal into the carpet and it emits a sound like the impending apocalypse and hurtles you towards the horizon at a pace that could outrun the end of the world. Yet, thanks in part to its size and solidity and in part to the usual RR refinement, you’re not always aware of the speed. Allow it to build gradually and it’s all too easy to glance at the HUD speedo and find you’re going far faster than you expected.
Being able to go fast in a straight line is one thing but the SVR’s ability to deal with the twisting back roads of the Scottish countryside is just as stunning. The steering is sharp and responsive with a pleasing heft. It corners flatter than anything this tall and heavy has any right to and thanks to the company’s decades of 4x4 knowledge it grips and grips and grips. My time with it was plagued with heavy downpours but not once did the SVR lose its composure. What’s more it somehow manages to do all this without crashing and smashing over rough surfaces – the ride is surprisingly smooth for such a sharp-feeling vehicle.
Adding to the whole sensory overload, in fact front and centre of it, is the noise. When the SVR arrived much fun was had in the car park at Scotsman Towers blipping the throttle and watching the windows of neighbouring cars rattle. There was a lot childish giggling from grown men and women and that was before I realised it was in “don’t annoy the neighbours” mode which closes baffles in the exhaust and generally tones down the hooliganism. Out on the road with “full yobbo” selected it sounds like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse having a pub brawl with a pride of lions. Every touch of the throttle prompts a primeval roar from behind you and every lift-off is accompanied by a host of vicious pops and crackles.
Obviously, all this noise and performance comes at a price – £106,050, to be precise. Doing the nursery run in a car that cost more than my first house was fun but it left me facing an average economy of 12mpg. Thankfully, a bit of longer-distance motoring saw that soar to 20mpg, crivvens! It goes without saying that this is a car for those with very deep pockets, particularly once you start looking into how much a set of those 295/40 R22 tyres will set you back.
Realistically the Range Rover Sport SVR is completely unnecessary. Nobody needs a car that sounds like Brian Blessed, goes like Usain Bolt and costs as much as an Edinburgh flat. But I don’t just care. It’s huge, hilarious and if it’s a sign of things to come from Jaguar Land Rover’s SVR brand then I can hardly wait for the next creation.