When Porsche announced the Cayman GT4, I didn’t need to be convinced that it was a good idea. In fact, even without driving it, I would have gambled the house that it would be worthy of any superlative you could throw at it because a hardcore version of an already unfeasibly joyous sports car is hardly going to be bad. It’s like adding chocolate to cheesecake. You can’t really go wrong.
I was less convinced by the idea of the Range Rover Sport SVR when it was announced. An SUV just isn’t the right basis for a hardcore performance vehicle, right? Just like chocolate wouldn’t go so well with steak. Both are great, but not together. And I should point out that I really do love the Range Rover Sport. On most days it features in my lottery garage as the everyday runabout, albeit in diesel form, because here’s the rub: every sports SUV I’ve ever driven, including the V8 Range Rover Sport and Macan Turbo, I’ve got out of at the other end thinking “sure, it’s great for an SUV, but even if I had limitless cash I’d just buy the diesel and have a few choice ‘proper’ sports cars as well.” Ultimately, Sports SUVs have always made about as much sense to me as tackling miniature topiary with a chainsaw.
Then I got free rein with the SVR. By the time I’d rounded the first corner with gusto, I was wondering if I’d fallen through a gap in the Matrix where weight suddenly didn’t affect handling. It’s truly surreal. Get the braking right for a balanced front-end and it tucks into a corner with the sort of voracious precision that you’d expect of a properly well-sorted sports saloon. Feed the power on at the right moment, and the back-end steps out with plenty of warning through the wheel, so you respond accordingly, keep your foot planted and before you know it you’ve executed a neat skid before the car pulls itself right and carries on with a manic, outraged bellow from the exhaust. All of this in a Range Rover Sport that weighs 2335kg.
None of this makes sense, I know. But it actually is that good. I’d certainly rate it as substantially more fun than a BMW M5 or Audi RS6, and certainly any Porsche Panamera or Cayenne that I’ve driven. I’d even put it on a par with the Mercedes E63 (which I’ve long lusted after) for the balance of ballsy entertainment and easy-going everyday manners.
I won’t lie – of course something that’s half the weight and two foot shorter will handle better. Yet on a subjective level, the SVR is just as fun as plenty of dedicated sports cars while also retaining that uniquely Range Rover sense of wafty precision in normal road use. Maybe the vertical damper movement’s a bit firm and springy, and the brake travel's a bit long, but you can still mooch about feeling totally relaxed and in comfort, elbow on the sill, and you don’t care if you’ve got another 1000 miles to do that day. In fact, you might even relish them.
So, I got out of the SVR thinking that if I suddenly had endless wealth, I would be sorely tempted to buy one. At which point I must finally admit that performance SUVs can make sense. Or this one, at least.