What is it?
Ever since Jaguar Land Rover opened its Special Vehicle Operations division a couple of years back, it has been pretty obvious that a performance Range Rover was high on its agenda. The interesting question has been, how hot would it be? The first SVO product, the Range Rover Sport SVR, was quite an extreme machine. Would the full-fat version eclipse it?
Now the question has been answered, and the clue's in the name. The new, £132,800 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic holds short of using the full SVR title of its slightly smaller sporting sibling, and keeps the name of its luxurious offshoot, the SVAutobiography. From now on there are two special models at the top of the Range Rover heap: the long wheelbase SVAutobiography and this new, short wheelbase, more powerful SVAutobiography Dynamic.
The new model, available for order now, starts life with the rest of the aluminium Range Rovers at Solihull, but diverts to the new SVO plant at Oxford Road, near Coventry, for paint and special fettling. It uses the same 542bhp 5.0-litre supercharged engine as the Sport SVR – also with a mighty 502lb ft of torque on tap – though the mode of delivery has been “civilised” slightly with a different throttle map. The top speed is 155mph and the 0-60mph time is a highly impressive 5.1sec.
What's it like?
The Dynamic rides 8mm lower on a unique-spec, all-independent suspension that features updated air springs and dampers, modifications to its active anti-roll control (in effect, an automatically adjustable anti-roll bar that only really works when you’re cornering) plus slightly quicker steering. Buyers get a choice of 21 or 22in wheels; our test car ran on mighty 245/45R22 tyres.
There’s a package of exterior changes that identifies an SVAutobiography Dynamic: new side vents, detail changes to grille, front bumper and bonnet, and impressive red Brembo brake calipers visible through the alloy wheels. At the rear the biggest giveaways are a unique SV badge and an impressive set of four round exhaust tailpipes. Inside, the Dynamic gets diamond quilted leather seats and special trim with a choice of four special ‘colour pathways’. SVO boss Mark Stanton says most Range Rover customers at this level usually go for bespoke equipment worth around £25,000, and SVO has a huge range of colour and trim choices to accommodate them.
There’s no mistaking the Dynamic’s new sense of purpose on the road. The steering instantly feels quicker and firmer in the driver’s hands, and impressive new roll control is noticeable in the very first corner. The ride is firmer – perhaps even jittery by Range Rover standards on some difficult UK back-roads – but it holds short of the unashamed sportiness of the Range Rover Sport SVR, helped by more subtle tuning of its hydraulic anti-roll control that allows the Dynamic much of the standard Range Rover’s suppleness in a straight line.
It’s still a very comfortable carriage for four: JLR is hoping to compete harder, especially on export markets, with the successful Bentley Bentayga, which has clearly identified a demand at the top end of large, luxurious, high performance SUVs.
Like the Sport SVR, the car gets better the faster you go. The engine revs smoothly but with a delicious V8 growl from low revs (also noticeable but not offensive to bystanders) with the eight-speed automatic gearbox as an excellent ally, and there’s big power out of corners that belies the weight of a full-size, fully equipped Range Rover. The seats grip well in corners and the whole car has stability to burn. Fast touring across Europe will be meat and drink to the Dynamic.
Should I buy one?
Still, opinions will vary over whether this is the Range Rover to choose. It has much of the Sport SVR’s sense of purpose without that model’s sometimes-uncomfortable ride, but it is also noticeably less supple and somewhat noisier on coarse surfaces than a standard short wheelbase Range Rover, whose serenity and refinement are the characteristics many serial Range Rover owners value most.
Our advice to the high-end Range Rover buyer would be not to assume the Dynamic is the best choice, but to try both varieties before committing.
Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic
Location Cotswolds; On sale Now; Price £132,800; Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 542bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 502lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 8spd automatic; Kerb weight 2457kg; 0-60mph 5.1sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 22.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 299g/km, 37%; Rivals Bentley Bentayga; Audi SQ7