If you have ever driven the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife track and cracked the 8-minute barrier, we tip our hats to you. Regardless of how fast the car, running that time is an accomplishment, so when we found out that Land Rover test drivers had nearly done it in their new Range Rover Sport SVR after 1000 laps of testing, we werecompletely shocked. In only 8 minutes 14 seconds, the Range Rover SUV – yes SUV – had rounded the demanding Ring – a feat many sport sedans can’t compete with.
When we research for perspective here, the Range Rover Sport SVR’s ring time puts it right in between two fiery production cars: one second behind the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and one second ahead of the BMW 1M Coupe!
Such was the mission of Jaguar Land Rover’s newly created Special Vehicle Operations team. To build off the outstanding new Range Rover Sport platform and break boundaries for Land Rover in terms of power and driving dynamics. However, at the same time the vehicle needed the utility, driveability and the breadth of versatility to handle all weather conditions and off-road terrain – quite the project outline indeed.
Much of the Nürburgring on-track magic is possible with the addition of an all-aluminum 5.0-liter supercharged V8, which has been strengthened to handle the extra power over the Sport. With a bump of over 40 horsepower, the SVR boasts 550 hp with 502 lb-ft of torque. The extra thrust propels the SVR from 0-60 mph in only 4.5-seconds up to an electronically limited 162 mph.
Mated to a ZF 8-speed paddle-shift transmission, shifting times have been dramatically reduced by 50-percent while close ratios keep the motor in it optimal power band. With 25 different shifting programs on hand, the self-learning transmission will determine individual driving styles and uses Corner Recognition to hold a gear in turns.
All of that power and torque is channeled through an advanced 50/50 distribution all-wheel drive system. And as promised the Range Rover Sport SVR delivers well on the off-road front. The system features an electronically-operated multi-plate clutch in the center differential allowing the power distribution to max out at 100-percent front or rear depending on conditions. For improved handling, the Torque Vectoring system has been remapped to ensure optimal torque is distributed to correct wheels to improve grip and reduce understeer.
The selectable transfer case allows for a low- and high-range with on-the-fly operation up to 37 mph. While the high-range offers a 1:1 ratio, the low range provides an extremely low crawl ratio of 45.5:1 should the Range Rover Sport SVR be asked to deal with serious off-road obstacles. When it comes to crossing streams and rivers, the performance-oriented SVR can still handle 33.5-inches of water and offers six user-selectable settings for various terrains.
Also in the list of criteria for the vehicle was a smooth around-town operation where the hushed dual exhaust valves can be opened up after 3000 rpm to have four pipes howling away underfoot. The luxurious seats fitted inside are unique to the SVR, featuring 16-way adjustability, strong bolstering and embroidered with the ‘SVR’ logo.
Lighter, stiffer with great attention paid to handling characteristics, the Ranger Rover Sport SVR can do it all with the wheels and tires provided. With 21-inch alloy wheels, the Pirelli Scorpion all season tires are sized in a huge 275/45R21 on all four corners. Should the driver want to stop in a hurry, the 6-piston Brembo brakes will clamp down with rigorous deceleration thanks to a substantial brake cooling effort in the SVR design.
Without an opportunity to review the vehicle, the SVR appears to make the already capable Range Rover Sport do the impossible in SVR trim. The SVR might just test the record for circling the Ring off-road too.