We typically don’t think of an SUV as a great performer. Usually big, heavy and focused on carrying plenty of people, luggage and caravans, performance is usually well down on the priority list. That’s certainly not the case with the Range Rover Sport SVR.
Land Rover’s performance SUV, was driven by Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Ho-Pin Tung, who smashed the record for negotiating the 99 corners of the famous Tianmen Road. The standard production Range Rover Sport SVR set a new unofficial record of 9 minutes 51 seconds for the 11.3km ascent at an average speed of 68.8km/h, beating the previous best of 10 minutes 31 seconds – set by a Ferrari 458 Italia supercar in 2016.
The V8 supercharged engine is good for 423kW, making it the fastest ever Land Rover. The thing accelerates from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 280km/h, that’s mental for a car of this size. The new performance flagship features bold design revisions and increased use of lightweight materials to enhance performance, handling and agility.
Coupled with changes to the chassis, the new SVR delivers more dynamic responses without compromising traditional Range Rover comfort. The engineers at SVO focused on controlling pitch under heavy acceleration and braking, and changes to the damping hardware have improved turn-in, mid-corner grip and body control.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung said: “I am used to the high speeds of racing but this was even more demanding. Maintaining concentration was the biggest challenge as the road twists and turns constantly, with huge drop-offs to the side. The consequences of getting it wrong would have been really serious so I focused on establishing a rhythm and the Range Rover Sport SVR made this easy – it may be an SUV but it has the performance and agility of a supercar and can take you to places a supercar can only dream of.”
The optional exposed carbon fibre bonnet (you need this) is one of the distinctive innovations introduced by the experts at Special Vehicle Operations and features a pair of large air vents to underline its performance potential. A revised front bumper provides enhanced brake and engine cooling while the 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine produces 700Nm of torque.
Inside, new lightweight SVR Performance seats provide superior support and traditional Range Rover luxury with Windsor leather, an embossed SVR logo and a choice of four colour combinations.
The record-breaking ascent is the latest challenge completed by the Range Rover Sport after the PHEV model made the dizzying climb to the iconic Heaven’s Gate natural rock arch at the road’s summit last month. The PHEV made its debut in a race against two-time open-water swimming world champion Keri-anne Payne and endurance athlete Ross Edgley in Devon, UK.
Sure, all this comes at a cost, a wallet-squealing $238,200, but hey, it’s just money.
Now its time to check out the record-breaking run.