An extreme off-road version of the Land Rover Discovery is the latest project from Jaguar Land Rover’s fast- expanding Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division. The new Discovery variant is the first in a series of models that will carry the SVX badge.
So far, SVO’s work has focused on making high- performance and more luxurious versions of JLR models, badged SVR and SV Autobiography respectively. But with the off-road-focused SVX nameplate, it now has a third product line.
The Discovery SVX will enter production next year. Its special modifications over the standard fifth-generation Discovery on which it is based will be hand-fitted by SVO’s workers at its bespoke Oxford Road facility in Coventry.
The external tweaks of the Frankfurt motor show star are understated and belie the off-road technology and prowess under the skin. Snorkels and huge circular spotlights made famous on the likes of old Camel Trophy Land Rovers are out, and in come more subtle design touches, including strips of LED lights on the roof, chunkier off-road tyres and new front and rear bumpers with skid plates.
Under the skin, suspension modifications include long- travel dampers and revised knuckles. The monocoque body has been raised, as has the all-round air suspension, which makes the SVX’s approach, departure and breakover angles better than a standard Discovery’s.
Chunky all-terrain 275/55 R20 Goodyear Wrangler tyres are fitted to lightweight forged aluminium alloy wheels. Land Rover claims the tyres’ extra side-wall height and “more aggressive” tread pattern improve grip on mud and performance on soft surfaces.
Active centre and electronic rear locking differentials are carried over from the standard model and work with the traction control system. One piece of new tech offered on the SVX is a Hydraulic Active Roll Control system that improves body control and wheel articulation for on-road driving. It’s offered alongside Land Rover’s full suite of off-road chassis technology, including the Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control systems.
The sole engine offered in the Discovery SVX is a 518bhp, 461lb ft version of JLR’s 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8. This is the first time a V8 has been available in the Mk5 Discovery. It’s hooked up to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a twin-speed transfer box. The rotary controller for the transmission is replaced by a new ‘Pistol Shifter’ to allow more precise control of gears off road.