From £95,72510

It’s tempting to pre-judge a new performance car by the number of bespoke mechanicals its maker has lavished on it.

Even the most open-minded petrolhead may be surprised that there’s been no extra-large engine shoehorned into this car and very little special hardware fitted to the standard Sport’s driveline and suspension. But that only serves to show the danger of judging this particular book by anything other than its driving experience.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The SVR is powered by a venerable supercharged 5.0-litre V8, albeit here in the more rarefied 542bhp tune

Instead, SVO’s approach was to be fairly pragmatic in deciding what to replace or simply retune or enhance from the Range Rover Sport. In doing that, it has run a risk. But it has also rather cleverly taken the opportunity to emphasise the engineering integrity of the standard Range Rover Sport by demonstrating – more or less – what it was always capable of.

The SVR is powered by the same ‘AJ133’ supercharged 5.0-litre V8 that goes in the V8 S/C model, albeit here in the more rarefied 542bhp tune with which it powers the Jaguar F-Type R Coupé. Although curiously SVO turned the wick for the F-Type SVR which produces 576bhp.

The driveline is materially unaltered, although new electronic controls for the eight-speed automatic transmission deliver faster shifts, while revised settings for the electronic locking rear differential make for enhanced traction and directional control.

You also get an electronic locking diff on the front axle and Land Rover’s clutch-based centre diff, which nominally splits power 50/50 front to rear but can send 100 percent of it to either pair of wheels. Plus you still get the Range Rover Sport’s low-range transfer case and Terrain Response 2 traction control system, so the compromises to Land Rover’s traditional rough-stuff capability are almost non-existent.

The changes to the make-up of the SVR’s height-adjustable suspension are limited to firmer bushes, new pistons for the air springs, bigger wheels and tyres and, on cars such as our 22in wheel-shod test example, wider axle tracks.

Additionally, with those optional wheels come the first performance road tyres to be offered on a Land Rover product, in this case Continental ContiSportContact 5s. Otherwise, SVO’s efforts have largely gone on retuning the interlinked springs, magnetorheological dampers and active anti-roll bars offered on the regular Range Rover Sport.

Besides the SVR badging, the styling identifiers consist of enlarged front air intakes on a revised front bumper, new black grilles on the nose, bonnet and front wings, a new roof spoiler and a rear valance that includes a rear diffuser and quad tailpipes.

No single design revision looks over the top in isolation, but on a performance car the sheer size of the Sport they combine to create an impression of genuine menace.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Sports SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Land Rover range

Driven this week

  • Renault Captur Dynamique S Nav dCI 110
    First Drive
    26 July 2017
    To keep pace with rivals in this increasingly competitive category, Renault's popular compact crossover has had a mild refresh both inside and out
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    New top-of-the-line Porsche hybrid, though fast and flexible, is simply too heavy to strike the same sweet sporting compromise as its siblings
  • Caterham Seven 420R Donington Edition
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    Limited-edition road-legal Caterham track car is a superbly enthralling drive, with enough creature comforts to be used on the road as well. Even more addictive than most of its rangemates
  • McLaren 570S Spider
    First Drive
    25 July 2017
    McLaren has created its most attainable drop-top by removing the roof from the 570S coupé, but none of the car's talent has come away with it
  • 2017 Range Rover Velar
    First Drive
    23 July 2017
    The Range Rover Velar is the most road-biased car Land Rover has made. So does it still feel like a proper part of the family?