The Range Rover is to Land Rover what the 911 is to Porsche. Just as Porsche does with its iconic sports car, Land Rover produces a seemingly infinite amount of variants of this luxury SUV — each of which is considered its own distinct model. That this SUV has proven to be a massive success for Land Rover means that the Range Rover won’t cease production until sometime after the eventual heat death of the universe. For us, it means a constant supply of fresh Range Rovers to drive, which in this case includes the torquey Range Rover Sport Diesel and Range Rover Sport SVR. We took them both for a spin, with KHACHILIFE Editor-in-Chief Ramsin Khachi behind the wheel of the Diesel and our auto writer, Justin Kaehler, test driving the Sport SVR.
Same chassis: two wildly different executions.
At their core, both of these vehicles are SUVs with sport-touring intentions. Yes, in true Land Rover fashion, they boast a host of electronic off-road aids. Yet in practice, they come equipped with oversized wheels, street-oriented tires, and fancy exterior trim pieces that would shatter the second they even hear the words “Camel Trophy”.
Not that we mind; the most extreme terrain we regularly see is the occasional pothole, with maybe some light rain. So instead we can take a look at these Range Rover Sports for what they actually are: fairly capable luxury vehicles.
Let’s start with the diesel. Its small-but-mighty inline four was first introduced in 2017, but it quickly proved to be a great fit for the Range Rover. And we still love this engine in 2019. It’s a properly modern engine, exhibiting a smoothness befitting the luxury brand. The fact that it’s a diesel means there’s plenty of torque throughout the powerband, though on the low end, it takes a minute for this grunt to kick in due to turbo lag. But as we observed 33 mpg in everyday driving, we can live with the slight hesitation. After all, it’s an SUV — it’s not like it’s pretending to be a sports car.
And that brings us to the Range Rover Sport SVR. It’s the fast Range Rover, packing the god-tier 550-horsepower, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that we first fell in love with in the Jaguar F-Type SVR. It’s loud, more than a bit obnoxious, and we can’t help but love it.
As for the SUV it’s been dropped in: Land Rover spent a lot of time dialling things in to ensure that this big box has true performance cred. It runs from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds. Its top speed is a scary-fast 162 miles per hour — which is all the more impressive considering that the Range Rover Sport SVR is still shaped like a brick. And thanks to its oversized brakes, 21-inch wheels wrapped in sticky rubber, and uprated suspension, this SUV managed to cement a Nürburgring time of just 8 minutes, 14 seconds. That’s faster than a fair number of legendary sports cars, including the Ayrton Senna-tuned NSX and R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R.
And yes, on the road this engine is great fun, especially when the exhaust has been opened up to amplify its bellowing engine note. The large displacement and belt-driven supercharger means that power is ample down low and feels frighteningly intense up high. It’s a capable machine, sure, but as it’s still a large Range Rover at its core, we don’t feel comfortable trying to toss it around as if it were a sports car. There’s bending physics, and then there’s trying to fling a 5,000-lb. SUV through a tight bend at speed. We’re fine just cruising, thank you.
Much like the Range Rover Sport Diesel, the Range Rover Sport SVR features a height-adjustable suspension. In the Diesel, we welcome its lowering feature to get in and out of lower parking garages. In the SVR, we kept it dumped to the ground in “Access Mode” as it looked kind of awkward when positioned up high. Comfort remains high across all height settings, however.
The interiors of the two SUVs aren’t radically different, either. Outside of the unique sport buckets of the SVR, both versions of Range Rover Sport feature a well-appointed, leather-trimmed interior. That smudge-happy all-glass display is here in both versions, and while it looks nice (when clean), we still would love some physical buttons to more quickly access certain features. We’ve played with the hand-gesture-controlled moonroof controls plenty of times, but they still catch us by surprise when we’re gesticulating while talking. Back seat passengers get plenty of space, and plenty of amenities like individual climate controls and rear traffic warnings to make getting out of the SUV that much safer.
As with our last go-round in other Range Rover Sport SUVs, we found a lot to like about both of these versions. One sips fuel; the other burns it with righteous fury. But both are wonderful vehicles to drive, and both are worthy additions to the storied Land Rover brand.