Test Drive: Range Rover Sport SVR packs a punch

Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport SVR puts the “S” into SUV, in a big way. This burly yet luxurious sport-utility vehicle packs 575 horsepower under the hood, hits 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and has a breathtaking top speed of 176 mph.

And it does so at a significantly lower price point than those of its major competitors, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($124,600) and Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 ($123,300). The most muscular of the Range Rovers checks in at $113,600. At these rarefied sticker-price levels — which can be elevated considerably when optional equipment is factored in — it may come down to which model makes your heart race.

Our test car, a black 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR, represents a remarkable automotive achievement. Not only is it blindingly fast, but it corners well enough to use (but not abuse) those 575 ponies. It’s loaded with luxury features, of course, but it’s also capable off road. For example, it can be driven through water almost 3 feet deep without stalling. And this Range Rover, like all Land Rover models, has full-time 4-wheel drive and the brand’s Terrain Response system, which enables drivers to select settings appropriate to a variety of surface conditions — or apply the automatic setting and let the car decide which setting is best.

Naturally, we didn’t dare take our Range Rover off road, though everything about this car — including its heritage — promised confident and reliable performance in the backcountry. On pavement, it’s quiet, refined and luxurious. One thing we’ve noticed about Land Rover products, including a 1994 Discovery we used to own, is that there’s something strangely dramatic about the way they respond to the throttle from a dead stop. We never tired of that quality in our Discovery, and it remains present in the newer models we’ve tested — no extra charge.

A weak spot of the Range Rover Sport, compared with the full-dress Range Rover, is cargo room. The Range Rover Sport is the polar opposite of the Honda Fit, which looks tiny but somehow swallows incredible amounts of stuff. The Rover looks big but loads like a much smaller car.

The SVR label isn’t for everyone. The car manages just 14 mpg in the city, 19 highway, and Land Rover recommends drivers use premium gasoline. People who want to spend less money on gasoline, or prefer better fuel economy on environmental principle, can choose the 340-horsepower SE, which starts at $66,750 — or even equip the Range Rover Sport with a 254-horsepower diesel engine. These packages bring highway fuel economy in the low 20s and high 20s, respectively. The Rover badge also can be found on a number of other models, each with its own unique personality. The entry-level Rover is the Discovery Sport, starting at $37,795.

Built in Great Britain by the Indian automaker Tata Motors, Land Rovers and Range Rovers are having a banner year in the United States. Through October, sales were up 11%. Tata also owns the Jaguar brand.

2018 Range Rover Sport SVR

Price: $113,600

Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, 575 horsepower, 516 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shift

Drive: four-wheel with 2-speed transfer box

Top speed: 176 mph

Acceleration 0-60: 4.3 sec.

Ground clearance: 8.4 in.

Wading depth: 33.4 in.

Weight: 5,093 lb.

Suspension: double-wishbone front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 21-in. alloy with satin polish finish

Tires: P275/45/WR21

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 24.8 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 56.8 cu. ft.

Maximum towing capacity: 6,613 lb.

Fuel capacity: 27.3 gal.

Fuel economy: 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline (recommended)

Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

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