Mighty machines: Range Rover launches Sport SVR and Hybrid models
It's been two years since the new generation Range Rover Sport arrived to take up a worthy support spot alongside the flagship model. The original Sport was something of a bruiser, and the new car was leaner, sleeker, swifter and far more efficient, thanks to some clever engineering and an extensive use of aluminium.
As a result, the MkII Sport has been one of several catalysts in Jaguar Land Rover's remarkable economic renaissance. You'll see this car in well-heeled districts from LA to Tokyo and all points in between. Capable of shimmying up an alarmingly steep slope or ploughing through waist high water – just like every Land Rover model – the Sport is a classic example of ability outweighing intention.
The Sport SVR turns up the wick on nearly every attribute, save for practicality. For a start, you don't get the regular car's useful seven-seat option and the inclusion of a supercharged V8 means – unsurprisingly – that fuel consumption is somewhat compromised. That's not really the point of this car; nor is the fact that the dashboard still factors Land Rover's legendary Terrain Response system, designed to help this two-tonne machine grind its way across the grimiest surfaces.
Fettled by JLR's new Special Vehicle Operations group, the SVR has been given a power boost, body kit, elaborately OTT interior trim and sharpened up handling. The end result is a machine that makes light work of high speeds – 162 mph in a Range Rover is a sobering prospect, as are the physics of getting to 60 in around 4.5 seconds. You certainly won't fail to be noticed, especially if you click the switch that opens up a sonorous valve in the quad exhaust system, rendering every gentle blip of the throttle into a seismic eruption. This kind of noise is perhaps anachronistic – and entirely manufactured – but for now they're still a key attraction of the performance car.
Does the world need the SVR? Perhaps not, but it's in good company. Mercedes built the ML63, as well as the decidedly more low-tech G63 and G500, while the BMW X5M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S are old hands in the art of putting more power in big cars. Next year will see the arrival of the new Bentley Bentayga, so it's safe to say there's practically no limit to the ongoing appetite for high powered SUVs.
On the other side of the coin, however, is the Sport Hybrid – the yin to the SVR's yang, if you like. The Hybrid pairs a 3.0 litre diesel with a battery pack, allowing for a few miles of silent, emission-less running and the big bonus of drastically reduced fuel and emissions. Both excel at what you expect them to, performing with the kind of aplomb and efficiency that's in strict contradiction to the scale of these mighty machines.