The prestigious award - now in its 43rd year - is open to all new or significantly updated SUVs and is judged over a week of testing featuring more than 1,000 miles of real-world driving on highways, back roads and a variety of off-road terrain where editors compare on- and off-road performance, overall build quality, features and amenities.
The Range Rover Sport SVR went on sale earlier this year as the first model to wear the high-performance SVR badge from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO); bringing enhanced on-road performance to a nameplate already well regarded for its off-road prowess.
At the heart of the Range Rover Sport SVR is a specially tuned version of the Land Rover supercharged 5.0L V8 which now produces 550-hp and 502-lb ft. of torque. Additional updates include the addition of a new Active Exhaust System, updated transmission shift logic, special suspension and chassis enhancements, as well as a newly engineered aero and performance package, all of which have been proven on Germany's "Green Hell" where the Range Rover Sport SVR completed a lap of the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife in 8-minutes and 14-seconds.
Complementing its updated on-road performance, the Range Rover Sport SVR features a number of standard amenities which make it a formidable off-roader as well. Key to its off-road versatility is an adjustable air suspension that helps the performance SUV achieve 10.9 inches of minimum ground clearance in off-road height, more than 20-inches of total wheel articulation, as well as approach and departure angles of 30- and 27.3-degrees respectively.
Power is routed to all four wheels via an eight-speed transmission with CommandShift and two-speed transfer case, while individual wheels are selectively controlled with Torque Vectoring by Braking4 (TVbB) and a suite of Land Rover stability and control systems including Land Rover Terrain Response® 24. On the Range Rover Sport SVR Terrain Response® 2 can automatically select specific transmission, suspension and traction settings for optimal drivability in a variety of on- and off-road conditions, or at the driver's choosing, be manually selected for any one of six settings including; Automatic; Dynamic; Rock Crawl; Grass, Gravel and Snow; Mud and Ruts; or Sand.
"The Range Rover Sport SVR could have easily eschewed off-road capability in the interest of impressive track numbers, yet it remains pure to the off-road heritage the Land Rover brand was founded on," said FOUR WHEELER Editor Christian Hazel. "Despite its impressive technological abilities, when you slide behind the wheel, drop the transfer case into low range, and point the front bumper at the top of the mountain, you feel you're piloting a wonderfully analog off-road animal. The driver-to-vehicle connection is uncomplicated. And at the end of the day, that's what the true enthusiast-whether at the race track, dirt wash, or rocky trail-is after: the ability to become one with your machine. The Range Rover SVR delivers this connection, and that's a huge reason why it was a favorite with our judges."
This is the fourth time a Land Rover vehicle has won the coveted Four Wheeler of the Year award and the second time the Range Rover Sport has been honored by FOUR WHEELER. The Range Rover Sport was recognized as the magazine's Four Wheeler of the Year in 2014 following a significant redesign which brought the current body style to the market.
"We are honored that the Range Rover Sport SVR has collected another prestigious award," said John Edwards, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations. "SVO's superlative design and engineering has created a stunning SUV and we know that thousands of customers around the world are now enjoying the fastest and most powerful car that Land Rover has ever made.'
In addition to being recognized by the editors of FOUR WHEELER, 2015 has marked an incredibly successful year for the Land Rover brand as a whole. Following a best-ever sales year in 2014, Land Rover has already broken all previous sales records through November of this year. Sales are up 36 percent year-to-date, already besting 2014's full year sales and putting it on pace to be one of the fastest growing brands in the United States in 2015.