Range Rover Sport SVR is fast on track and slick in mud
FEN END. Sounds like a quaint corner of the garden of England until you hear, then see, the angry iridescent critters circling its centre. These are Range Rover Sport SVRs in 2018 specification and palette - and Fen End is home to a Land Rover test circuit. We've come in a fresh convoy for hot (and supervised) laps in the supercharged V8s, howling along the main straight to nudge 240km/h, backing off for the banked turn then launching again.
The Rangies share their stonking V8 (423kW/700Nm) with the Special Vehicle Operations stablemate Jaguar F-Type. It propels the hulking hot rod off-roader (more on that below) from rest on tarmac to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
Top speed, not achievable at Fen End, is a claimed 285km/h but the surge under throttle at any pace is astonishing. No surprise given the outputs but delivery isn't always linear - floor the pedal and there is an instant between take-up and the hearty shove back into your seat. Rather than turbo lag frown, this is supercharger grin material.
Formerly a Prodrive proving ground, Fen End nestles in the Warwickshire countryside but bristles with engineering intent. Untold test mules, unbadged or in camouflage, rumble past regularly.
Given these are SVR variants, there is plenty of show to accompany the go. There is no missing the carbon-fibre bonnets on our Madagascar Orange examples, metallic paint adding $8670 and the "special effect" treatment costing $14,890. The red calipers behind the
22-inch alloys are branded Land Rover though the provenance is still Brembo.
Within the ultra-spiff cabin, the feel is almost grand tourer with sporty leather wheel and sumptuous hide on the seats. Among the show-off comfort features is gesture control for the sunroof blind; wave over a sensor near the interior mirror and the fabric rolls back to reveal the fixed glass panel (exercise caution as to when to take a hand off the wheel).
The driver screen is rather pared down compared with the triple-view set-up in full-size Rangies.
The info screen, however, gives access to the full breadth of ability of the SVR under the rather blandly named Adaptive Dynamics tab.
Tap through to Dynamic-i on the menu and unleash the beast, setting up suspension and throttle for a track assault - there's even a g-force readout.
If that gets too scary, a discreet button near the gearshift opens the exhaust valves, big time, for that frisson of flat-out noise.
When the brakes on our SVRs have ticked down cool enough, we exit Fen End, still eyeballing the intriguing array of test vehicles, and head for the next show of prowess.
On narrow country lanes, the SVR is tractable and in common with its SUV ilk it's tall enough for the driver to see over hedges and accommodate lesser oncoming traffic.
A Land Rover guide directs us to a forest track. We tap the screen again to select mud and ruts mode, ease the accelerator and the 2300kg-plus wagon - on fat, performance road tyres - burbles tamely and ably through greasy, churned-up mud.
RANGE ROVER SPORT SVR
ENGINE 5.0-litre V8 supercharged, 423kW/700Nm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto; 4WD