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Long-Term Report 4: 2016 Range Rover Sport SVR

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 12, 2017
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First, let’s address the big, blue elephant in the room. With only 223 miles logged for this review, what follows is really more an overview of our total time with the ’16 Range Rover Sport SVR Four Wheeler of the Year and not so much that last couple hundred miles before the dreaded “hey, we need our vehicle back” phone call from Jaguar Land Rover. Normally we receive our test vehicles sometime in the winter months, but our SVR had to be crafted at the SVO facility in England and then delivered via ship all the way to Los Angeles. Because of that, we didn’t actually receive our Estoril Blue rocket until July. And here we are with a meager 200-something miles left in our final installment.

The 5.0L supercharged, intercooled V-8 produces 550 hp and a gooey 502 lb-ft of torque. We found the engine to be completely civilized at all the right times, and viciously animalistic when it should be. It’s a marvelously smooth, well-tuned piece of engineering.

Our strongest takeaway from our time in the SVR is admittedly the liquid manner in which the 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque are delivered. Just depress the throttle and the vehicle squirts forward with linear precision. But it’s actually more than that: The transmission, engine calibration, and chassis tuning are as close to perfect as we’ve ever found in an SUV. Whether carving corners at adrenaline-overload speeds on the track, ripping up and over a sand dune, or blasting down a desert wash, every terrain submits to the SVR’s will. It’s one thing to make a luxury vehicle; it’s quite another to actually invest in the time, expense, and effort to make driving it a rewarding experience. And that’s what JLR has done with the Range Rover Sport in general, and the SVR in particular.

That said, despite the luxurious leather seating, which has held up remarkably well over 20,000 miles of hard use, the insanely clear and pleasing stereo system, and the analog manner in which the vehicle responds to driver commands, we did have our share of problems. For starters, there’s the body cladding on the passenger side that we reported in our first installment had started pulling away. The dealer “fixed” it with some double-sided sticky tape and promised to contact us when the replacement part came in from England. To date, we’ve yet to receive the part. Also, the interior rattles from the moonroof sunshade, the dash, and the passenger-side door panel. There was also an intermittent rattle that came from the center console. With the stereo turned up to drown out the din it wasn’t so bad, but when you’re driving a vehicle that costs northward of $120,000, any noise is too much. Ours sounded like a child was in the back seat with a pair of plastic drum sticks. Way not cool.

In addition to intercooler grilles where the foglamps are in a pedestrian Range Rover Sport, the SVR distinguishes itself externally by larger gill-grilles in the front fender, quad rear exhaust tips in a special rear valence, black crate grille, 22-inch SVR wheels, special high-bolster seating, and SVR badging throughout, just to name a few differences.

But if interior sound mitigation was horrible, fuel economy on the highway was acceptable, especially for a supercharged 5.0L V-8 in an all-wheel-drive chassis. And as for looks, the body lines are clean and sinister, but form does follow function in this case. The grilles, bulges, scoops, vents, and spoilers all work together to increase downforce at higher speeds, aid in cooling, and permit the SVR to slide through the air with nary a whistle. The Commandshift eight-speed transmission can be toggled by paddle shifters or by manually selecting a gear via the gearshift. We used the paddle shifters quite a lot for engine compression braking into corners or when descending steep hills, but otherwise we mostly left the transmission shifter in Drive and let the computer do the thinking for us.

The passenger-side front door lower cladding became the bane of our SVR existence. Every time we hit the carwash the cladding would partially come off, requiring a good, stiff push to get back on. Invariably, it came loose again as we drove down the road.

Off-road, the SVR’s Terrain Response 2 system can be dialed in for a myriad of terrains including Rock Crawl; Grass, Gravel, and Snow; Mud and Ruts; or Sand; as well as the on-road Dynamic setting, which opens the exhaust baffles, tightens up the suspension and throttle response, and changes the transmission shift points. Off-road the Rock Crawl mode presents the most noticeable features in the SVR’s off-road arsenal, engaging the rear locker, diminishing throttle control to omit jerky engine revving over harsh terrain, and allowing the SVR to hold First gear longer in low range. You’d think the body would be the limiting factor in hardcore off-road usage, but the SVR actually offers 30 degrees of approach and 27.3 inches of departure angle, with a full 10.9 inches of ground clearance with the suspension lifted into Off-Road height and 20 inches of wheel articulation. In truth, it’s the low-profile Michelin tires that are the SVR’s real Achilles heel.

One issue that began near our end-time with the SVR was with the headlight washer nozzle that automatically extends when you operate the windshield washer. Roughly 50 percent of the time it wouldn’t fully retract, requiring a knuckle tap to seat back into the front fascia.

We really enjoyed our time in the SVR. In a room full of shouty 500-plus horsepower luxury SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, BMW X5 M Series, Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, and Mercedes AMG GLE63 S that parade about the room with lampshades on their heads, the Range Rover SVR is the quiet one in the corner secretively guarding its intense off-road capability with a stoic British sophistication. In terms of performance, the SVR is James Bond to the others’ Austin Powers. And at the end of the day, which one would you rather rely on to get you safely through the thick of things?

Options as Tested
Driver Assistance Package—Lane departure warning with traffic sign recognition; perpendicular and parallel park with park exit; 360-degree park distance control; heads-up display; wifi pre-wire ($2,900), Santorini black contrast roof (N/C), Rover Tow Package—Hitch receiver with electrical connector ($650), Ebony headliner ($350), 22-inch Style 108 SVR wheels ($3,000), 1,700-watt Meridian Signature Audio ($4,450), Carbon fiber veneer ($2,300), Estoril Blue paint ($1,800), RR Sport protection package—rubber floor mats; loadspace mat; collapsible cargo carrier ($537)

Report: 4 of 4
Previous reports: Mar. ’17, Aug. ’17, Dec. ’17
Base price: $111,350
Price as tested: $128,332
Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronically-controlled, two-speed

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 19,667
Miles since last report: 223
Average mpg (this report): 13.21
Test best tank (mpg): N/A
Test worst tank (mpg): N/A

Maintenance
This period: Passenger front door panel loud rattling
Problem areas: Rattles and buzzes from moonroof sunshade, passenger door panel, and dash

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Overall vehicle driving experience
Not: Shoddy feel of build quality

Logbook Quotes
“If the stereo is off you really notice all the squeaks and rattles.”
“Driver seat is wearing exceptionally well.”
“This air suspension is awesomely fast.”

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