OV63 VYR is one of a handful of Range Rover Sport SVR prototypes built for the model’s test programme, and was specifically kitted-out for track use. That’s why it’s got a substantial roll cage to thread yourself through, hip-pinning Recaro bucket seats and chest-flattening six-point Sparco harnesses. And, no back seat.
My chauffeurs for today are Dave Warner from the Special Vehicle Operations team, and Jason Walters from the Off Road Capability team. Off-roading in the most race-track ready Range Rover ever built? Is Land Rover mad?
Contrary to what we’d assumed, the SVR’s off-road ability hasn’t been compromised by the go-faster mods. It’s still got low-range, off-road height air suspension settings, and Terrain Response 2 Auto to help it tackle every situation thrown at it. And, if you unscrew the lower chin spoiler on the redesigned front bumper, it can match the standard Supercharged Sport for approach and departure angles: 33deg (30deg with spoiler attached) and 27deg, respectively, too. ‘There’s nowhere I’d take the standard car that the SVR won’t go,’ says Jason.
The fundamental engineering in the suspension is the same as the standard car, even the geometry is the same, but a lot of work has gone into tuning the software that controls the dampers and the anti-roll control for when Dynamic mode is selected.
The 542bhp supercharged V8 is straight out of the Jaguar XK-RS sports car, but with software tweaks for more torque at lower revs; taking advantage of the Sport’s four-wheel drive traction on-road, and benefitting driveability off-road too.
The twin-speed transmission’s centre and rear e-diffs were another reason why ditching low-range wasn’t considered, even though a single-speed driveline might have saved 18kg. And, although the development team could have got even more power by revising the air intake ducting, that would have compromised the SVR’s 850mm wading ability, so they left it alone.
Dave Warner demonstrates that performance on a straight stretch of Herefordshire lane, flooring the accelerator from 10mph… The bonnet rises, rear squats, and a shriek of supercharger and transmission noise fills the cabin, with an American muscle car-like snarl from the quad tail pipes out back. Backing-off sends fuel popping and spitting down the large bore exhaust system, as you ready yourself for another quarter-mile blast. It’s very childish. And, huge fun.
At 3500-3800rpm, or in Dynamic mode, flaps in the exhaust open fully to make maximum noise, but otherwise it’s as refined and cultured as a standard Supercharged Sport. It’s even got a stealth mode, so you can start it without waking the neighbours.
Standard-fit tyres are Y-rated 275/45 R21 Pirelli Scorpion Zero mud-and-snow boots, and they have no trouble finding traction on the soggy forest floor through the Eastnor estate, or wet tarmac for that matter, but the biggest challenges they’re likely to grapple with are snow, ice and wet grass.
For fast road or track use, there’s a 295/40 R22 Continental SportContact 5 ‘summer’ tyre option, which requires small wheelarch blisters. Land Rover engineers had already covered 5000 miles round the Nürburgring on the M+S tyres before trying these, but the increase in grip and lateral G was so stark that they had to start the testing all-over again.
So, now we know what took them so long! The first SVR prototypes were first spotted testing back in early 2013… Dave says: ‘This was new territory for us, and we needed to understand it fully, to make sure it was right. But we couldn’t believe quite how good it was, which is why we decided to go for a Nürburgring record.’
Just 2300 SVRs are planned for the first year’s production, each starting at £93,450 before options. And, yes, if you want one just like this, with the rollcage, the Recaros and six-point harnesses, SVO can do that for you too!
Check out the video of the Range Rover Sport SVR in action.