Since its launch in 1970, the remarkable Range Rover has come a long way. First generation vehicles were designed with interiors that could be washed down with a hose, and were a far cry from the current fourth-gen super-luxurious SUV packages on offer today.
But even the late Charles Spencer "Spen" King, creator of the original Range Rover, probably didn't envision the off-roader depositing rubber on the infamous Nurburgring Nordeschliefe circuit. But that's what's happened, and how.
The story continues on the next slide.
Case in point, the 2015 Range Rover Sport SVR, Land Rover's most powerful and fastest SUV to date. The devilishly-quick SVR supposedly blitzed the record for the fastest lap set by a production SUV last month at the notorious 72-corner German circuit, with a time of 8 minutes and 14 seconds. No off-roader should be that quick, so there's obviously plenty of trick.
The SVR's engine is no run-of-the-V8-mill, but an uprated version of the acclaimed Range Rover Sport V8 Supercharged 5.0-litre motor (also doing duty in the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe), producing a whopping 550 bhp and 680 Nm of torque. More than plenty specs to launch the car off the line to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and up to a restricted top whack of 260 km/h.
Behind the engine lies an 8-speed automatic transmission, also from the V8 Supercharged, that can be driven in auto, occasional manual or full manual modes. But in the SVR, shifts are 50 percent quicker than the standard V8 Supercharged version, and a fuel cut-off system that activates between gear changes, makes every shift more audible.
So the SVR can't better the Porsche Cayenne Turbo's acceleration or top speed, but it still managed to pip the German SUV at its home ‘Ring. Some form of retaliation came from Stuttgart about the bragging rights though, and Land Rover interestingly softened its claim of setting the fastest Nordeschliefe lap for a production SUV down to "one of the fastest times recorded by a production SUV". But that's another story...
Power and torque are not the only reasons for the Range Rover SVR's trackside brilliance. Remember that the British SUV racks up a rather obese scale reading of 2.335 kgs, which needs to be kept from misbehaving. And for that Land Rover has pulled out all the stops, equipping the mentally-off-roader with a tuned version of the Range Rover Sport's all-wheel drive system, modified air suspension and brake-based torque vectoring to boost the vehicle's agility and handling.
It's good to know Land Rover has tried to remain true to its off-roading roots with the SVR too, claiming its rough terrain capabilities have not been sacrificed. That's because the wading depth and ground clearance are at par with the Range Rover Sport and there's hardware like low range, a two-speed transfer case and an optional rear locking differential. In addition, the standard 21-inch wheel and tyre package includes all-season tyres. But if your eyes are tarmac-focused, likely of most buyers, there's huge road-hugging 22-inch Continental SportContact 5 rubber available on the option list.
The SVR looks well mean, with huge air intakes up front to cool the big engine and brakes and dramatically flared wheel arches that house the large wheels. The quad exhausts in the rear are to be a sight other vehicles on the road will have to get used to, and the fact that they let fly specially tuned crackles and pops, means there's plenty of show for the go.
Possibly our only gripe with the "Eight-Fourteen" is the exclusive Estoril Blue paint, which would look more at home on a boy racer import than a serious machine capable of incredulous performance. And if cabin upholstery were up to us, we'd pick the all-black interior any day over the three other two-tone options.
The Range Rover SVR is slated to launch internationally next year, and we're waiting to see whether it makes it to India. Accompanying stickers will start at USD 110,475 (around INR 67.5 lakh), so you're going to have to part with plenty green for the black and blue beast that will beat most of the competition er, black and blue...