If you look at it rationally, the very concept of a performance SUV is a bit of a misnomer. On the one hand, you have an automobile that’s designed to tackle all types of terrain while keeping its occupants comfortable. And this increases weight, which, as any engineer will tell you, is the first hurdle to extracting ‘performance’ from a vehicle. But, with demand increasing for all kinds of SUVs, performance SUVs are now a very real segment.
A shining example of this breed is the Range Rover Sport SVR. Based on the rather popular Range Rover Sport, this version adds a healthy dose of spunk thanks to its 543bhp 5-litre supercharged V8. And, to make sure that everyone notices the grunt on offer, the SVR comes with a smattering of darkened surfaces to replace the regular chrome, an aggressive body kit and quad exhausts.
At this point, you may wonder whether an SUV needs this much power – but this thought process changes completely when you start the SVR. The engine wakes up with a thundering bellow, and settles into a loud idle – which makes even the least interested person in the vicinity notice that the SVR is not your average plain-Jane people mover. And this impression grows as you cane the engine further. Whether on track or on the road, the engine responds immediately to accelerator inputs. And with a raspy exhaust note, along with an assortment of pops and bangs on downshifts, it has a soundtrack to match.
Surprisingly, the SVR feels pretty good on the track. Sure it has body roll, but it’s still very fast indeed – as demonstrated by a rather impressive time of just 2:30.1, making it the fifth-fastest car in the test. Not bad for an SUV weighing over 2.3 tons! But, in truth, the SVR was never meant for the track. It’s a fast SUV, designed to be used out on the open road – and, more importantly, to make a statement. And this is where the SVR shines. The soundtrack and sheer speed ensures that it feels like a supercar. So, if you need the usability of an SUV with performance that would shame a sports car, this is the machine for you.