See What Makes the Fastest Range Rover Ever So Special (Hint: It’s Not Just the Engine)


The all-new Range Rover Sport SV is the fastest Range Rover, ever. This fact became tangibly clear during a series of whomping loops around the Portimão Formula One racetrack in southern Portugal, where we had the opportunity to test drive this opulent missile. Not only can it accelerate from 0–60 mph in just 3.6 seconds—just a couple tenths off the contemporary Ferrari Roma—and hit a top speed of 180 mph, it feels remarkably composed while doing so, startlingly so for a 5,500-pound rectilinear SUV that sits high enough off the ground, even in its lowered “access” mode, to require a bit of hop upon exiting.

Fortunately, the Sport SV put some pep in our step during a three-day tour of the hills, highways, shorelines, and twisty bits of the western Iberian peninsula. This was not simply because the $181,775 Edition One we drove featured heated, cooled, and massaging leather-covered thrones, but because it also featured an all-new four-dimensional sound system. This latest craze in ultra-luxury audio incorporates expertly targeted transducers that literally shake your ass while you’re sitting.

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover/David Shepherd

We’re not talking about the window-rattling bass that echoes out of cars in the streets of New York. This is a precise and targeted low-frequency vibration that makes music “feel” richer. In fact, according to researchers at Coventry University, this type of haptic vibration can lower stress, increase one’s awareness of their surroundings, enhance circulation, and calm, soothe, or invigorate listeners. We’re not audiologists or composers, but the new Brittany Howard, Helado Negro, and Mk. Gee albums certainly sounded—er, felt—augmented and augmenting through the system.

range rover

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover/Nick Dimbleby

Despite being shod with gigantic 23-inch, $10,000 carbon fiber wheels and ultra-low-profile tires that left just centimeters of rubber between our transduced posteriors and the asphalt, the SV’s trick adaptive air suspension soaked up whatever inventive forms of rubble Portugal’s roadways could conjure. The Edition One version we drove also came equipped with $9,000 carbon ceramic brakes, which reduce stopping distances, especially from high speeds. While we had a chance to test this capability on the track, we tried to stay close to the speed limits on public roads, since we’d received a moving violation the last time we were in Portugal, and—as much as we fantasize about moving there—didn’t want to risk arrest and extradition.

In addition to the thunderous 626 hp produced by its twin-turbocharged V8 engine, the SV offers myriad other gifts. A new computer-controlled air suspension system simultaneously soaks up bumps and keeps the big Range from pitching, diving, or wobbling, even when taking tight mountain corners at velocities high enough to make our passengers confess to curling their toes. There is also black ceramic coating on some high-touch surfaces, including the transmission shift knob, providing sensory delight whenever you grab them, and extending the century-long connection between cars and clay. (Also fitting for a visit to Portugal, where production of decorative tile work is so important, the capital, Lisbon, sports an excellent museum dedicated to the practice. We loved it. If you go, definitely visit.)

range rover

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover

range rover

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover

Blame our ’80s childhoods, but for us, foremost among these little moments of joy were the clear, crystalline paddles used for manually shifting the Range’s transmission through its eight gears (should you so desire; fully automatic is the default mode). These Lucite-esque paddles glowed in colors that reflected our mood while driving. In high-test SV mode, accessed by a push of a button on the steering wheel, they were appropriately and aggressively red. (The headrests light up too.)

range rover

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover

range rover

Photo: Courtesy of Land Rover

We have an abiding affection for the type of vehicles that we call “All-Arounders”: typically station wagons, hatchbacks, or other long-roofed forms of transport that are at once indulgently luxurious, nimble, capacious, quick, and unique. The Range Rover Sport SV ticks all these boxes. It may be pricey and thirsty, but it was emotionally satisfying every time we sat in it, and equally so when we parked and glanced back at its handsome shape.



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