Full disclosure: I was at Autocar’s road test desk when it gave the Range Rover Sport SVR a five-star verdict. As you probably know, five stars is a big deal in the world’s oldest automobile magazine, and not everyone was convinced that the car had earned its spurs. Some felt it was too garish, too heavy, too silly to award the latest accolade. But those of us already under the influence of the SVR’s charms argued that if the super-fast SUV was really going to be a thing, and by 2014, it clearly was, then they deserved no less of a qualitative benchmark than any other segment. . . And the SVR, despite its perceived dislike, had reached a level of driver engagement that no previous SUV could compete with. It wasn’t a matter of taste, we said, it was about fitness for purpose, and no one could argue that SVO’s first creation hadn’t brilliantly completed its monster mix billing.
Two life cycles later, and the RVS is almost done. Most likely this latest version, the lastIt will be Land Rover’s last release of trim level dice before the underlying car is replaced by a new Range Rover Sport sometime next year. The fastest model has proven to be immensely popular, more than 20,000 copies have been sold, although I bet very few buyers made the decision based on a rigorously objective five-star road test verdict. Land Rover himself understood that the SVR could face an uphill battle with decorum when parked next to a blue-blooded Range Rover, so he intentionally headed in the opposite direction, then shyly pretended to ignore all the raised eyebrows. when it featured select items as a gloss. Carbon fiber hood and 22-inch wheels. Frankly, he didn’t care if his eyebrows fell, and neither should he: people evidently liked all the look-at-me confetti, and happily paid for it.
Appropriately, then, the Ultimate edition does little more than work the point. Priced at £ 123,900, it serves up some goodness from SV Bespoke (SVO’s special commissions department) in a bowl of familiar punch. You can choose from three paint colors: Maya Blue Gloss or Marl Gray Gloss, which apparently feature glass flake basecoats for a ‘star-like shine’, or Ligurian Black with a satin finish. Naturally, the Land Rover press office was full of sparkles, so you’re looking at Maya Blue with Fuji White accents on the side vents and ‘Range Rover’ lettering, along with a contrasting Narvik Black roof and rims. Alloy Forged Gloss Black Split Spokes. Inside, beyond the “recommended” Ebony and Cirrus leather trim, there’s an SV Bespoke commissioning plate, chrome B-pillar badges, illuminated Ultimate Edition running boards, and black anodized metal gear shift paddles.
Needless to say, if the SVR wasn’t already your cup of tea, no amount of fancy paint will change your mind. Buyers will also have to do without the latest gadgets from the manufacturer; I have no complaints about the additional touchscreen the Range Rover Sport got in 2018, but all Land Rovers that aren’t equipped with the latest Pivo Pro infotainment system now feel cruelly out of date. Anyone interested in twisting the knife further could point out that the same accusation could also point to his driving. After all, time waits for no one, least of all the rabidly fast SUVs of two tons and a little. Since the SVR was released, we have had a new generation of Porsche cayenne, quickly followed by the unspeakable fast lamborghini urus and then last year the magnificently accomplished Aston Martin DBX. The performance benchmark, it’s safe to say, has moved a bit.
How much does this matter? Well, clearly the SVR can’t claim to be a class leader in 2021. The Cayenne and DBX are sleeker and smarter, and you’d need reinforced concrete in your wellies to keep the rear bumper on the 650hp Urus from fading. on the horizon. However, none of that comparative certificate overwrites what made the SVR attractive in the first place, especially since many of its various strengths could be called idiosyncratic, and remain so even now. The pride of the place, unsurprisingly, is the venerable 5.0-liter supercharged V8, which still manages to make most other equivalent engines, even those boasting an indisputable numerical advantage, appear sterile and uninteresting.
It’s certainly true that the unit isn’t as open-minded as it was in previous iterations (increasingly stringent emission and noise standards have played their part), but since its sillier modes were often theatrical to the point of hammy, this it is generally for the benefit of the SVR. The V8 remains a constant and fickle presence, but in a way that supports the bustling driving experience rather than intimidating it. With 575 hp still available at 6,000-6,500 rpm, it is probably as well suited to the Range Rover Sport as it is to any other JLR application. Like most fast SUVs, the SVR’s pleasant sense of urgency relies on the 516 lb-ft of torque delivered at slower engine speeds, but unlike most fast SUVs, it’s the voracious AJ-V8. and swift the one that encourages you to keep going, repeatedly and fiercely, in the lower regions of the rev counter.
Obviously, it does this in most environments; the difference is the extent to which the improved handling of the SVR matches the euphoric undertones of the V8. The size, weight and height of the car should work against it (and in an elementary sense, of course, everyone does), but Land Rover’s mastery of weight and body movement and the positivity of control means that the SVR surely draws him into action even when he seeks to isolate you from him. And while its more recent rivals have now surpassed it in both low-speed ride comfort and high-speed lateral performance, its careful chassis tuning is still the reason it leans, leans, and laughs along with the Ultimate edition, often conspiratorial two-part, a jolly spectator part. Fundamentally, and winningly, it’s still a hoot to drive.
In its dynamic snuggle mode, it’s even better. In fact, it’s still nimble enough that you’re inclined to stop having fun and threading a few corners, something the Range Rover Sport flagship is capable of even with its winter cross-contact tires. But that means taking things very seriously, and the SVR has always been a lesson in backwards moderation. I think it’s best to drive it respectfully and peacefully in accordance with its size and unapologetic thirst, and then, with nothing more significant than a sequential push of the gear stick, massively open the taps when no one is looking, like a Hawker. Tempest making victory roll over the canal. Of course, you’ll still have to spend the rest of your time living with all the SVRness of the pack, which the Ultimate edition deliberately increases to 11 in the flesh, but I doubt you’re wasting much of it insisting on the superiority of practice. Cayenne GTS cheaper. I could be wrong; after all, seven years later, it is finally a matter of taste.
SPECIFICATION | 2021 RANGE ROVER SPORT SVR ULTIMATE EDITION
Motor: 5,000cc supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 575 @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
Torque (lbft): 516 at 3,500-5,000 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.5 seconds
Maximum speed: 176 mph
Weight: 2,302 kg DIN
CO2: 331 g / km
Price: £ 123,900