Special Operations: Jaguar Land Rover SVO

Jaguar Land Rover's SVO division covers everything from fettled, high-performance models to remanufactured classics.

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Vivek Shah
Vivek Shah
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Luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi tend to have distinct performance and customisation departments, with AMG, BMW M and Audi Sport marketed as distinct from Mercedes Designo, BMW Individual and Audi Exclusive.

British competitor Jaguar Land-Rover has simplified this process somewhat by consolidating all of its non-standard offerings under one roof: SVO.

Standing for Special Vehicle Operations, SVO not only offers high-performance variants of models such as the Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Pace to compete head-on with RS, M and AMG vehicles, but also high-end, bespoke luxury versions of models such as the full-size Range Rover.

Additionally, the firm has a ‘Classics’ division that aims to modernise iconic cars from the Jaguar back catalogue (such as the E-Type), not only with new parts but also modern powertrains including electrification.

The breadth of SVO’s work means it bears no direct equivalent amongst other popular luxury brands.

Instead, SVO is organised into distinct branches, each of which aim to perform a function that would be handled by separate divisions at its competitors.

SVR: The performance arm

SVR is the direct equivalent of BMW M, Mercedes-AMG or Audi RS, and therefore is used as a moniker to exclusively denote the firm’s highest-performance cars.

Similarly to their German competitors, SVR cars have substantially upgraded engine outputs as well as chassis and mechanical upgrades to improve dynamics and increase the car’s ability to perform on the track.

Currently, the firm offers two SVR vehicles: the Range Rover Sport SVR and Jaguar F-Pace SVR SUVs. The hottest Jaguar F-Type was badged SVR until its recent facelift, wherein it became the F-Type R.

As befitting corporate cousins, the Range Rover Sport and F-Pace SVR models share the same 5.0L supercharged V8 powertrain, producing 423 kW of power and 405 kW of power in the Range Rover and F-Pace, respectively, and propelling the cars to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds in the Range Rover and 4.0 seconds in the F-Pace.

Perhaps one of the most famous SVR models was the 2018 Jaguar XE SV Project 8, which was a limited-production, track-oriented weapon that could almost be perceived as a spiritual predecessor to the recently unveiled Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA.

The Project 8 was available with full four-point racing harnesses and an uprated 5.0L supercharged V8 producing in excess of 440 kW, propelling the car to a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of approximately 3.3 seconds.

Only 300 examples were produced, each hand-built.

SV Autobiography: The luxury arm

While SVR is focused on performance, the SV Autobiography badge is used to denote the most luxurious vehicles that the company makes.

Although ‘Autobiography’ itself is used to denote high-end versions of products such as the Range Rover Sport, the ‘SV Autobiography’ moniker is exclusively used on the company’s most luxurious vehicles, and this means that it is found currently on the full-size Range Rover only.

Overseas, Land Rover also offers an even more exclusive Range Rover SV Autobiography Ultimate edition that builds on the ‘regular’ SV Autobiography with satin green paintwork, copper detailing, a full-length rear centre console and the availability of exclusive Poltrona Frau leather.

SVX: A stillborn off-roading specialist?

SVR has a performance focus, SV Autobiography has a luxury focus, and the company intended the final part of the trio to be the SVX, comprising models that had a more off-road orientation.

The first contemporary SVX model was supposed to be the Discovery SVX.

Compared to the regular Discovery it had improved approach, departure and breakover angles, active centre and rear locking differentials, as well as a model-first hydraulic active roll control system for increased wheel articulation and improved body control to maximise off-road capability.

The Discovery SVX was also revealed with a supercharged 368kW/625Nm 5.0-litre V8, which would have made it the only member of the current generation Discovery line to offer V8 power.

Due to go on sale in 2018, the model was cancelled in early 2019 after the company could not make a viable business case.

The only other vehicle to bear the SVX badge was a limited-edition version of the old Defender back in 2008.

While Land Rover has publicly said it remains committed to SVX branding, it’s unclear when a future SVX product, such as a future new Defender SVX, would launch.

Bespoke and Jaguar Land-Rover classics

In addition to the performance and luxury offerings above, SVO also offers bespoke capabilities and scope for increased personalisation.

At the moment, this consists primarily of the SVO Premium Palette range, offering various colours in tri-coat, ChromaFlair (paint that changes colour significantly based on viewing angle and lighting) and matte paint.

Other personalisation options, such as customised side sills and tread plates, may be available on request.

The firm currently offers limited coachbuilding services, with previously announced coach-built models, such as the two-door Range Rover SV Coupé, cancelled after a viable business case couldn’t be determined.

Equally as interesting is SVO’s Classics branch. Currently, the firm offers parts and restoration services for vehicles including the famous E-Type, as well as the opportunity to buy a completely restored E-Type as part of the firm’s ‘E-Type Reborn’ program.

Other models currently being produced or announced for production include a limited-run continuation series of the Le Mans winning C-Type, as well as the D-Type and XK-SS sports cars.

The future

Jaguar recently announced that it would become an electric vehicle-only brand from 2025 and that its Land Rover sibling would offer EVs from 2024, and it’s therefore highly likely that SVO will also follow the same path.

This was perhaps hinted at earlier, through projects such as the cancelled E-Type Zero, which would have modernised a classic E-Type with components from the I-Pace’s electric drivetrain.

The company also revealed the Vision GT SV concept that, while intended only to be an expression of the brand in the Gran Turismo Sport video game, nevertheless made use of a hypothetical EV powertrain.

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Vivek Shah
Vivek Shah
Vivek Shah is a Contributor at CarExpert.
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