It takes an inordinate amount of brand cachet and confidence to do this. At a time when austerity is still making front page headlines throughout the western world, this is a £96,900 Range Rover Sport (£108,450 as tested) that has 542bhp.

Those are large figures that could easily seem out of kilter with the times. But austerity be damned: this car has been coming, no matter what.

In the past year, more than 500,000 people have become millionaires in the United States alone, and that rate is being outstripped by the Chinese. There are now more people than ever before who have the means to afford cars like this Range Rover Sport SVR, the first Land Rover product of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division.

The people at SVO have made the SVR nothing less than the most powerful Land Rover in the company’s history. The car deploys 542bhp from its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine and adopts a raft of mechanical and dynamic changes to accompany the extra horsepower.

This is still a vast SUV, but given the kind of demand that’s available globally for luxury and performance 4x4s, the question, then, is no longer “why would you make a car of this size, with this power?”. Given that there are so many people with the income and inclination to buy one, the question is “why wouldn’t you make one?”.

It’s a question BMW asked itself with the X5 M as long ago as 2010 and that it answered well enough to continue into the latest X5 and X6. But, then, BMW was ahead of the game when it introduced the X5 a good half decade before Range Rover launched the Mk1 Sport in 2005. Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo is into its second generation, too.

So the fact that the SVR only now tops a Sport line-up that has, in this second generation, been on sale since 2013 means it’s a latecomer. We’ll find out whether the time has been well spent.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Land Rover range

Driven this week

  • Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S road test review hero front
    Car review
    22 June 2018
    Is AMG's rapid GLC 63 SUV the answer to your prayers, or to a question nobody’s asking?
  • Dacia Duster 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    It's still not as refined as other SUVs, but in terms of sheer value the second-generation Duster is very much in a class of its own
  • Ford Ka+ Active 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    This SUV-inspired makeover for Ford’s city-friendly small car will find its fans, but the Ka+ Active doesn’t set any new benchmarks for the class
  • Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    The Japanese hot hatch is all grown up in terms of character, technology and price, but is it still a fun-loving kid at heart? Let’s find out
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 4
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Shogun Sport name returns to the UK, attached to a seven-seat 4x4 that, Mitsubishi hopes, deftly combines practicality, comfort and toughness