2024 Range Rover Sport SV First Drive Review: A Sophisticated Beast, Emphasis on Beast

It’s easy to forget how satisfying the roar of a V8 engine is at full tilt when most cars out there are turbo-fours, electrified, or fully electric. Hustling a 2024 Range Rover Sport SV around a Formula 1-grade circuit with its brute yet sophisticated V8 is a sobering reminder. Rocking a matte exterior, 23-inch carbon wheels, and quad exhaust pipes, the $182,000 SUV already looks killer standing still. On the track, however, it slices through apexes and powerslides out of corners, proving that this killer instinct isn’t just skin-deep.

Reaching 150 mph on the Algarve International Circuit’s main straight is jolly fun and not at all hard for its BMW M5-derived 4.4-liter V8. But the real magic happens when you brake hard and dive into the first corner, summoning its eight-piston Brembo carbon ceramic brakes and hydraulically interlinked air suspension without anti-roll bars. One-fifty to 70 mph happens so quickly it hurts, but the big luxurious cabin remains so flat you’d swear you’re wheeling a supercar. High-po SUVs have come a long way in recent years, but this new SV is now aiming for the Astons and Porsches of the world.

Range Rover, Jerry Perez
2024 Range Rover Sport SV Edition One Specs
Base Price$181,775
Powertrain4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 mild hybrid | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive with active locking rear differential
Horsepower626 @ 6,000-7,000 rpm
Torque553 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,855 rpm
Curb Weight5,478 pounds
0-60 mph3.6 seconds
Top Speed180 mph
Seating Capacity5
Towing Capacity7,716 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy16 mpg city | 22 highway | 18 combined
Quick TakeA top-notch luxury SUV with a sports car’s soul.

The Basics

You may be wondering how we arrived at a track-ready, 626-horsepower Range Rover. Well, the concept isn’t that foreign. Land Rover previously offered the rowdy Sport SVR trim, whose 5.0-liter supercharged V8 offered 575 hp. Nowadays, under a new corporate strategy to spin off brands and streamline products, the R is dropped and it’s simply SV. The SV moniker stands for the brand’s pinnacle offerings: SV for the regular Range Rover signifies ultimate luxury, while SV for Range Rover Sport signifies ultimate sportiness.

SV now also promises a well-rounded, high-performance SUV and not just a muscly brawler like the old SVR. Range Rover folks will tell you that it’s about being the very best on the road, on the trail, and also on the track.

“The rule of thumb, especially with performance cars, is you engineer to satisfy the extreme user—the highly critical, analytical user—and then you’ll satisfy everyone. Every detail matters,” SVO director for JLR Jamal Hameedi told The Drive.

This multi-faceted approach explains the new-generation SV’s looks and dynamics. Starting with its design, it’s got more oomph than the regular Sport without being too butch. The front fascia gets the usual treatment with wider air intakes at the bottom, lower side skirts, and carbon fiber bits throughout. The hood is also made entirely of carbon fiber. In the rear, a small, white SV badge signifies that this ain’t no regular Rover—as if the four exhaust pipes and 305-section rear tires didn’t already give that away. My tester was equipped with sleek Carbon Bronze Matte exterior paint, awesome 23-inch carbon fiber wheels, and massive carbon ceramic brakes with calipers finished in greenish-yellow.

That sort of swanky yet understated motif carries into the cabin, where clean lines and soft, satin-like surfaces abound. A floating 13.1-inch touchscreen serves as the command center for just about everything, as Range Rover did away with physical controls for its new models, including the Velar and Evoque I recently drove. However, performing quick functions like turning the volume up or down can easily be done through buttons on the steering wheel, and the OS is simple enough that I never found myself digging through unnecessary menus.

Driving Experience

You know, I wish I could say it’s all about that smooth, thunderous BMW-derived engine, but it isn’t. It’s the heart of the SV, for sure, but it’s not what defines it. This is one of the most well-rounded SUVs I’ve driven in a long time. From the phenomenal and somewhat Ferrari Purosangue-esque suspension, precise steering, Herculean brakes, and dialed-in ZF eight-speed transmission, it’s a real performer with real character. And then there’s the software that makes it all click.

Cruising on Portugal’s smooth-as-glass highways, the SV glides effortlessly, no surprises there. Steering reaction is slightly quicker than I would expect in a relaxed driving setting, but not overly so. Despite the massive carbon wheels and 285-section Michelin Pilot Sport all-seasons, there’s no tire drone, hollow bangs when going over potholes, or any sort of obnoxious gremlins.

I found that exploring curvier but less pristine roads was still best done in Comfort mode. Driving enjoyment isn’t any less, as the SV is still willing to give you the beans on command and one can simply toggle the active exhaust to its loud setting for full-on drama. Switching to Dynamic mode tightens things up, though I didn’t find it to be much more satisfying than its softer counterpart. Regardless of driving mode, the SV moves about with a certain royal flair.

Should you get bored at the wheel or happen to ride shotgun, a new feature in the seats called “Body and Soul” works in conjunction with the SV’s 29-speaker Meridian sound system to provide vibrations from within the seat for a more immersive music experience.

Track Attack

Whipping a 5,000-pound SUV around a race track simply shouldn’t be this easy, or this fun. Yet, at the push of the “SV” button, this Range Rover transforms into an agile, tail-happy SUV with the soul of a sports car.

Keeping the body in check during hard cornering is the high-tech suspension, which not only manages side-to-side body roll but also forward-and-back pitch. This was abundantly evident at the end of the main straightaway and other undulating corners throughout the track, where I relied on its stability to keep me from losing the rear end. Portimão’s Algarve Circuit is a sort of Sonoma or Laguna Seca on steroids, where nearly every corner around the track is either blind or sits at a different altitude than the one before and after it.

Unlike the 285-section all seasons of my on-road tester, the track-going SV wore new-to-market 305-section Michelin Pilot Sport S5 summer tires. This, combined with rear-wheel steering, made easy work of really tight corners. I often found myself turning in a bit too soon simply because I didn’t expect it to react so quickly while doing 35, 55, or even 75 mph through a tightening corner.

After several laps and a bit of a sore neck, I exited the SV feeling sorry for all the future owners who will never demand that kind of performance from their cars. Truly a shame.

Range Rover Sport SV Features, Options, and Competition

The SV’s competition is almost irrelevant considering you can’t actually buy one for the first year of production. Even with its $182,000 price tag, the SV Edition One is sold out for 2024. A 2025 model isn’t confirmed yet, but when asked about whether SV would be a one-year special, a Range Rover spokesperson told me, “No.”

Having driven its direct competitor in the Aston Martin DBX707, the SV feels much better equipped to fulfill the role of a luxury car, sports car, or weekend off-roader. While the Aston is a fantastic machine with evocative styling, it’s really not the kind of high-po family hauler I’d enjoy driving every day. The Porsche Cayenne is perhaps its biggest rival, and where Range Rover will have to work the hardest to beat.

The Early Verdict

No car’s perfect, but during my 1.5 days behind the wheel of the SV, I couldn’t find anything truly wrong with it. OK, fine, the door-pocket bottle holder isn’t big enough for most refillable bottles. There.

Range Rovers have reputations: Footballer car, unreliable car, rich asshole car, golddigger car. Many will pass judgment on the new SV based on these, and they’ll all be wrong. The 2024 Range Rover Sport SV is a top-notch luxury SUV that can blaze race tracks and climb dirt hills with two wheels off the ground and a third one buried in mud.

If you’re able to afford it, I’d seriously consider getting on the list for a 2025.

Email the author at jerry@thedrive.com


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