Jaguar has been in the news this week with the first details of the F-TYPE SVR. We should get used to those initials, as they signify what you could term the super SPORT versions of JLR vehicles. Meanwhile, the first Land Rover to wear the badge is a phenomenal thing and it makes a noise like no other big SUV.
You don’t have to be Mike Cross, the man in the hyperlinked video in the previous paragraph, to enjoy yourself in this 4×4. It has the same 550hp supercharged engine as you’ll find in the Jaguar F-TYPE R, plus 680Nm of torque. The gearbox is the ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic which is well known from so many JLR models, and of course there are paddles behind the steering wheel.
Bringing this 2,333kg beast to a stop are 380mm discs up front and 365mm ones on the rear axle. That’s vital when top speed is 162mph and 0-60mph is reached in 4.5 seconds. CO2? Let’s get that out of the way and move on: 298g/km. Lucky there’s a 105l tank as standard: Combined consumption is 22.1mpg or 12.8l/100km. And, it’s all too easy to reduce that to the teens if you’re having fun on your favourite, empty roads. In such conditions, the size of the RRS feels nothing like the reality of the thing. It’s easy to forget the width (2,220mm including mirrors) and length (4,850mm). Charmingly, Land Rover quotes a wading depth for the SVR. Well it would, as all its vehicles are engineered to have extraordinary off-roading talents. so yes, the depth: 850mm.
A significant change over other Sports is the interior layout of the fastest variant. Instead of 5+2 seating, this one has no third row. You can well imagine how luxurious it is inside, as well as the very un-4×4 like racing style seats. And there’s no mistaking that you’re in the quickest Land Rover yet with the SVR logo visible everywhere: it’s on the dashboard, embossed into the seats, and outside you’ll find it on the tailgate and the lower half of the grille.
The SVR version of the Sport is the newest addition to the line-up, if you discount the HST. I say this because unlike the SVR, the smaller engined variant isn’t available worldwide. The HST, new at last year’s New York motor show, is powered by the 380PS version of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 which we know from the F-TYPE and other models.
The additional variant was part of the 2016 model year changes for the Range Rover Sport. There were no styling changes, just some updates. A Gesture Tailgate, and Automatic Access Height are the two most noteworthy additional options. In North America, a special 50 State compliant diesel is added. This is a modified version of the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 which Ford builds for JLR and in Federal-spec, it’s termed the Td6 and produces 254hp plus 440 lb-ft of torque.
The SDV8, which isn’t available in the US, Canada or Mexico, has been modified for model year 2016, with stop/start now standard, and the SDV6 Hybrid has of course had to become compliant with EU6 norms. This also means the CO2 number falls from 169g/km to 164g/km.
An existing feature, InControlTM Remote, has been renamed and improved. Now known as InControlTM Protect, this technology allows the car’s owner to remotely lock/unlock the vehicle, check the fuel level, reset the alarm, and have the lights flash and horn sound (if you’ve forgotten where you parked). Furthermore, in the event of a collision, emergency services and Land Rover Assist will be automatically called.
One more update for the new model year is the fitting of All Terrain Progress Control as standard to all Sports featuring the Terrain Response 2 drivetrain. Part of this package is something called Auto Access Height, which makes entry and exit easier by lowering the vehicle when it stops and a door is opened. Finally, a Carbon Fibre Pack is a new option. So even if you don’t have the SVR, you can get some of the look thanks to the inclusion of special side vents, tailgate trim, mirror covers, a grille surround, fog lamp bezels and bonnet vents finished in high-gloss lacquer.
The lowered suspension, huge 21-inch wheels and 20-inch Brembo blue-painted brake callipers give the SVR a menacing look. But that’s nothing compared to the noise that it emits if you push the throttle pedal hard from the standing start. Wheelspin? No chance, even on wet roads. Well, unless you’re at a test track and exploring the limits. Body roll? Nope. That’s probably the most incredible achievement of Land Rover’s chassis engineers. Nor is there even much nose dive or pitching under extreme acceleration of emergency braking. This really IS a super car, in the body of an SUV.
What’s ahead for the Range Rover Sport?
L461, the third generation model, is still more than five years away, so Land Rover has quite some time to continue tweaking the current L494. As it went on sale after the Range Rover, so its mid-life styling refresh is likely still a year to eighteen months off. Which is another reason for the addition of the SVR.
The Land Rover part of JLR really understands the importance of keeping high-end models in the news: money isn’t that much of an issue for RRS (and Range Rover) customers but novelty is. Imagine if Maserati was controlled by JLR, not FCA. Its sales wouldn’t have fallen into a trough in 2015 because even the aged cars such as the GranTurismo would have been freshened or had faster, more expensive variants added to the range. Or consider the Nissan GT-R. What an incredible car. Which, sadly, hardly anyone, anywhere buys. When did you last read something that Nissan had done for that model – stripped out Club Sport-style version, or perhaps some carbon body panels, even more power – none of that has happened and the car itself is now coming up for being nine years old. Even worse, there’s going to be a facelift soon, not a new model.
We don’t know for sure what’s ahead for the current RR Sport, but Ingenium four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines should be part of the 2018 model year revisions. And a plug-in hybrid? That’s pretty much a certainty given the cost of non-compliance with California’s laws. Having those types of powertrains in the Sport is also a handy way of providing some balance for the SVR’s shall we say, munificent emissions. A guzzler it may be but what a glorious guzzler it is.