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Test Drive and Review: 2016 Range Rover Sport SVR

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/10/2015 Nick Kurczewski

Under the hood of the Range Rover Sport SVR is a 550-horsepower supercharged V-8. - Nick Kurczewski

Under the hood of the Range Rover Sport SVR is a 550-horsepower supercharged V-8. - Nick Kurczewski
© Provided by Daily News, L.P.

The Range Rover SVR couldn’t get any meaner, unless it physically scurried up to my leg and chomped my ankle. Finished in a black-on-black paint scheme, complete with heavily tinted rear windows, this 550-horsepower SUV is akin to being anti-matter in appearance.

This truck – and yes, this is a truck and not a crossover – is unrepentantly tough. Just look inside, you’ll see that the backseat is actually two curvaceous bucket seats, with a nominal spot between them for anyone thin-hipped enough to squeeze into it. The effect is like seeing a Lamborghini with a baby-seat - it's insane, and somehow really cool.

So, you want a luxury SUV to run errands and drive to swanky malls? Okay, the Range Rover SVR will oblige, but it would roll its eyes at these menial tasks (that is, if it could). I’m not one to fling every car I drive onto a test track – if your brain is permanently stuck in Go Fast Race Mode, some buff book will gladly tell you which minivan gets the win because it pulls more G-forces into a hairpin corner.

Basically, if you’d have told me a Range Rover would be crying out for hot laps, I’d have laughed and, possibly, given you a politely firm slap – at least, if you’re not very big and you can’t run faster than me.

But after a few days with this beautiful brute, I kept finding myself driving it like I would an outright sports car. Punch the gas, ignore any thoughts of fuel mileage, and hold on tight. The supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine produces staggering levels of horsepower, along with an equally impressive 502 lb.-ft. of torque. This allows the four-wheel-drive SVR to literally claw its 21-inch diameter, 9.5-inch wide wheels into the road surface, to catapault you down the road with enough force to shove you (firmly!) into those leather-lined sport seats.

Research the Land Rover Range Rover Sport

With a starting price well above $100K, the Range Rover Sport SVR resides in the upper echelon of the SUV world. - Nick Kurczewski© Provided by Daily News, L.P. With a starting price well above $100K, the Range Rover Sport SVR resides in the upper echelon of the SUV world. - Nick Kurczewski

Based on the existing Range Rover Sport, the SVR focuses most – though not all – of its attention towards providing the most tactile driving experience possible, at least in a vehicle weighing more than 5,400 lbs. No, this SUV doesn’t exactly feel like a ballerina in corners. But that’s like saying a heavyweight boxing champ isn’t an athlete because he can’t plié and pirouette his way into the lead for Swan Lake.

On the road, you immediately feel the suspension modifications that give the SVR an extremely level and planted feel. The air suspension has been tuned to deliver sharper responses and much less wallow and roll when the road gets seriously twisty. I found myself punching the gas pedal at every highway on and off-ramp, simply for the giddy fun of hearing this motor howl and feeling myself pushed against the side bolsters of the seats. This is a big, fast, and downright silly SUV.

I like it! I just can’t afford it.

Starting at $112,345 (including destination charge) the Range Rover Sport SVR is not only one of the world’s fastest SUVs, it also ranks up there with some of the most expensive. This includes heady competition, such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, BMW X5 M, and Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63. None of these are what I’d call ‘bad choices,’ if you have the means and the motivation to buy one.

Few SUVs have the presence and menace of the Range Rover Sport SVR. - Nick Kurczewski© Provided by Daily News, L.P. Few SUVs have the presence and menace of the Range Rover Sport SVR. - Nick Kurczewski

The Range Rover has arguably the most visual panache of the bunch, however. I promised myself there would not be any Darth Vader references with this SVR review – but come on, look at this thing! I’d be doing the galaxy a disservice if I didn’t admit that, each and every time I approached this truck, I expected to hear Vader’s infamous “bhhh-khhh, bhhh-khhh!” breathing. (And yes, there was an internal office debate over how exactly to spell out the sound of Vader’s inhaling and exhaling…that’s what we do here at the Daily News Autos, folks)

The “Santorini Black Metallic” paint hides some of the SVR’s exterior design cues, such as the revised front bumper with larger intakes, blacked out trim and air vents, and custom grille. At least the dark color scheme shows off the bright-blue Brembo brakes calipers, tucked snugly behind those 21-inch alloy wheels.

At the helm of the Range Rover, you’ll find thick and chunky-looking handles and knobs, leather-clad dash surfaces and steering wheel, along with a gear-lever for the 8-speed automatic that is a direct copy of what you’ll find in a BMW. It works nicely – unlike the recalcitrant shifter – so we’ll forgive the design plagiarism.

This is a Range Rover so, like all vehicles bearing the famous name, it’s endowed with hardcore off-roading credentials and driving modes tuned to every type of terrain you’d encounter this side of, say, being assigned a NASA deep-space mission. I didn’t worry about fording rivers in Manhattan traffic, or crawling over rocky terrain across the Hudson, in the concrete jungles of New Jersey. But I could have, if I'd wanted to, so that helped me sleep at night (I guess).

The Sport SVR has a suspension that's tuned to keep this 5,400 lb. SUV level and even-keeled when pushing it hard - and you'll want to push it, trust me! - Nick Kurczewski© Provided by Daily News, L.P. The Sport SVR has a suspension that's tuned to keep this 5,400 lb. SUV level and even-keeled when pushing it hard - and you'll want to push it, trust me! - Nick Kurczewski

What are my final impressions of the SVR? Well, it’s a massive amount of truck, both in terms of performance and price. Frankly, if I was in a Range Rover dealership, the standard Range Rover Sport would look awfully tempting, given that it’s about $30-grand cheaper. A , though in an even more under-the-radar kind of way. I know, my job is terrible isn't it?

I have to admit, the SVR is one of the few large SUVs that really and truly made me laugh out loud when behind the wheel. It has zombie apocalypse go-anywhere credentials, along with a powertrain and suspension that devilishly goad you to go faster, corner harder, and brake later than you’d normally ever dare to do. This Range Rover really shouldn't be this quick, or this much fun to drive. I'm really, really glad it is!

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