FIRST DRIVE | The Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is one mean hell-raiser
There was a time when sports cars were made light and low for maximum handling benefit, but the rise of SUVs has led to some owners wanting their high-riding behemoths to perform like racetrack specials.
It’s led to a proliferation of high-powered, heavy SUVs that are becoming as popular as they are arguably pointless. What started as a lunatic-fringe niche a few years ago has grown into a bustling club of super-SUVs with unearthly power outputs and a dizzying array of electronic aids to try to mask their top-heaviness.
The Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is the latest inductee to a club that includes the Lamborghini Urus, Maserati Levante Trofeo, BMW X5M, Audi RS Q8, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Aston Martin DBX and Bentley Bentayga, to name a few.
The SVR, priced at R2,654,862, is the most powerful vehicle yet to come out of Land Rover’s factory, and it’s recently been joined by a Carbon Edition model with more styling swagger and a price tag of R2,831,000.
Mechanically it’s the same, but the extra money buys extensive carbon-fibre exterior detailing and gloss-black low-profile 22-inch alloy wheels to make it stand out as the range-topping Range Rover Sport, and the sporty black trim gives the vehicle a distinctly more aggressive presence.
Inside, lightweight SVR Performance seats are 30kg lighter than the standard ones and feature a more bucket-like design for improved body-hugging cornering performance. Additional racy detailing includes aluminium sports pedals and SVR Carbon Edition-branded tread plates that illuminate as you climb aboard.
A 19-speaker, 825-watt Meridian surround-sound system is part of the standard fare in a roomy and highly digitised interior that radiates upmarket flair. Finished in high-quality perforated Windsor leather, the front and rear seats are heated and feature embossed SVR logos in the headrests.
All new or approved pre-owned Land Rover customers in SA receive complimentary driver training at the Experience Johannesburg facility in Lonehill, Johannesburg.
Bringing 423kW and 700Nm to the SVR’s party is a 5.0l supercharged V8 engine that has been transplanted from the Jaguar F-Type R. Thus endowed, the most sporting Range Rover claims a 283km/h top speed and a 4.5-second 0-100km/h time.
Our Vbox test at Gerotek produced a 5.7-second sprint to 100km/h, notably slower than the factory claim but still an impressive figure for a portly vehicle that weighs more than 2.3 tonnes.
It feels really quick, providing a satisfyingly firm shove into the cushy leather seat under full throttle and the ability to effortlessly whisk past long trucks when overtaking.
The sporting experience is intensified by a loud, rasping roar that sounds like it could strip thorns off a cactus as it drives past. At the press of a button that opens flaps in the exhausts, the howl becomes even more Jurassic, and reaching for that switch becomes an oft-used guilty pleasure.
In sympathy to the vehicle’s low-profile tyres, we didn’t attempt any off-roading, but this sporting SUV has the capability to tackle off-tar expeditions if owners opt to fit it with more sensible rubber.
Apart from all-wheel drive, it has height-adjustable air suspension (ground clearance can be adjusted between 213mm and 274mm), an 850mm wading depth, hill descent control, and several off-road driving modes to help get it through tricky turf.
On the road, where this sporty Range Rover is likely to spend most of its time, the driving demeanour can be adjusted to comfort, eco and dynamic modes that affect the suspension stiffness and the responses of the engine, transmission and steering.
With its air suspension, the SVR rides with impressive comfort on the low-profile tyres and feels as if you’re piloting a supercharged sofa.
With the aid of roll stability control, the high-riding hulk corners with respectable composure and doesn’t feel like it will imminently topple over, but you can always feel the hefty weight of this SUV. Its bulky nature is further driven home by the brakes having a tendency to overheat quickly under hard driving, though they do bring this behemoth to a halt quite briskly.
The Ranger Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is not a modest vehicle in design, performance nor general hell-raising demeanour. It is certainly worth a look if you want a fire-spitting SUV with standout styling and one of the raunchiest howls in the business, though there are rivals (see below) that offer better bang for buck.
RANGE ROVER SPORT SVR VS THE COMPETITION
Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition — 423kW/700Nm — R2,858,462
Maserati Levante Trofeo, 433kW/730Nm — R3,949,000
BMW X5M, 460kW/750Nm — R2,973,658
Porsche Cayenne Turbo, 404kW/770Nm — R2,469,000
Mercedes-AMG G63, 430kW/850Nm — R3,366,480
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S 4Matic+, 450kW/850Nm — R2,907,440
Audi RS Q8, 441kW/800Nm — R2,354,500
Jaguar F-Pace SVR, 405kW/700Nm — R1,860,540
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, 522kW/875Nm — R2,199,000
Range Rover Autobiography Supercharged, 416kW/700Nm — R4,117,562
Bentley Bentayga V8, 404kW/770Nm — R3,825,000
Bentley Bentayga Speed, 467kW/900Nm — R5,450,000
Lamborghini Urus, 478kW/850Nm — R3,995,000
Aston Martin DBX, 405kW/700Nm — R4,000,000