2019 Range Rover: Road Test Review
- Jun 7, 2019
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Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations really puts sportiness into the Range Rover Sport. Turning a 2.3-tonne luxury bred-for-off-road SUV into a track tool was a tall order. Now for 2018, SVO is amping things up to an all new level. The mad hatters at Fen End, the new HQ for the SVO division, put their focus on performance and handling. So, is it fun or not? We spent some time with the Range Rover Sport on British B-roads and pounded a few laps on the test track to find out.
Don’t expect that. This is largely an update and has a lot of changes under the skin to make it louder and faster. But the 2018 RR Sport SVR looks that way too. As it is based on the 2018 RR Sport it gets the new headlamps which are also shared with the updated Range Rover. The top of the line headlamp options use LEDs and lasers to light up the road ahead and can now provide better visibility at speeds above 80kmph. The new tail lamps look cleaner, with a prominent LED light guide running along the bottom edge.
The SVR quotient of the design has been upped too. The hood is now moulded in carbon fibre and that has saved about 3.5kg. If you want to show off the weave, SVO will leave the centre section unpainted. The gills on the hood help cool the uprated V8 that lies beneath. The revised bumpers also provide better airflow to cool to the brakes. There’s a whole smattering of carbon fibre bits on the outside like the ORVM shroud; however, the faux vents behind the front wheels look quite tacky. Our test car was swagging it with the new optional 22” alloy wheels, which, apart from looking sinister in black, are a lot lighter than before. SVO specialists clarified that the earlier units were also forged,but changes to the design has helped slice some eight kilos. On the whole the SVO logo on the hood has earned its spot better now.
There’s more of the SVR magic on the inside. Carbon fibre is standard issue for the surround for the window switches, centre console and rear aircon vents. There is a new, slimmer steering wheel which drivers will be able to appreciate. What you won’t be able to see are the new magnesium frames for the SVR Performance seats, which are said to be lighter by 30kg!
But if you really want to slash weight off this newer 2.3-tonne SUV, don’t opt for the panoramic sunroof, which raises the CG considerably. But if you have it be sure to wave - after all that’s one of the ways to get it to slide open. There are other new glass slabs in the Sport, like the Touch Pro Duo displays. This dual screen setup for the centre console looks classy and improves usability. However, the touch response and speed is just a tad slow. Also, using the screens while driving can be a bit fiddly.
You bet. The big change is that the 5-litre supercharged V8 engine makes 575PS and 700Nm of torque - that’s 25PS and 20Nm more than before. This is thanks to revised gearing for the supercharger so that it blows more air into the big-eight earlier. Upstream changes like a new intake are accompanied by downstream changes too, all in a bid to help the engine breathe better. Actually, snort, roar and thunder are better ways of describing the sound that the SVR makes. It is well and truly exceptional every time you put your foot down.
Don’t think it’s too busy putting up a show to actually get going. This 2.3-ton SUV does 0-100kmph in just 4.5 seconds. Which means its quicker than the 2017 version by 0.2 of a second. Its claimed top speed of 280kmph blows the older SVR’s 260 into the distance. Not that you’ll ever do it, but bragging rights, bro!
What you will experience every time is the way the SVR jumps ahead when you prod the throttle. At first it feels a touch too frisky! The immediacy of the throttle response takes some getting used to, especially in Dynamic mode. Friendly advice: If you are stuck in bumper to bumper at Haji Ali, keep some distance from the car ahead.
What else will we have to get used to?
There’s one thing less to get used to now. And that’s the way it handles. In the past, this enormous SUV found shouldering all this performance to be a bit troublesome. So, the SVO team reworked the areas between the chassis and the wheels to make it just that little bit nicer. So, the state of tune for the dampers, the electronics that control the valves in them, the active anti-roll bars or the lines of code that control the all-wheel drive, the air-suspension and the torque-vectoring of the all-wheel drive system was changed.
The result? The Sport SVR doesn’t squat like it was aiming for nearby treetops every time you put your foot down hard. It just sits back a bit on its haunches and explodes forward.
The Sport SVR also surprises with the way it turns in. It behaves like a car half its size and weight, darting where you point it without any restraint. From there it continues to hold tightly to its line, waiting to find the apex so that it can rocket ahead once more. Obviously, there is still a bit of roll even in Dynamic mode, but that can now be passed off as an amusing trait that doesn’t dampen its sporty and enjoyable nature.
Get the wallet?
If it’s deep enough, sure! The SVR make for the ideal supercar for India. It can seat five, and can take a clobbering. It can off-road, and how. We look forward to testing that out when it is launched in India in May-June 2018. When launched, the Rs 1.9 crore price tag of the Range Rover Sport SVR is set to get bumped up by Rs 10 lakh -15 lakh because of the changes to the car and the import duties. Yes, that’s a lot more money, but for that you get a Range Rover Sport that is now a better SVR.
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