Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) is gearing up to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, BMW’s M Division and Audi’s RS line, but with a notable difference.
SVO, which has so far put SVR badging (R for racing) on its tuned Range Rover Sport we saw at Goodwood last month, will differentiate itself from its German rivals by offering products outside of the mainstream norm.
Former Porsche Cars Australia boss Michael Winkler, who has been in charge of JLR Australia since November last year, says SVO won’t be an AMG clone.
“It’s not about outdoing AMG and M [division] in terms of what they do exactly and copy that.” Winkler said at the launch of the Jaguar F-Type coupe in Sydney yesterday.
“It’s about putting a particular twist on it that is in line with the Jaguar Land Rover brand values. At the end of the day it’s the point of difference and that how you justify your existence.”
Jaguar Land Rover’s special vehicle operations will take care of not just unique cars, but also merchandising and the brand’s heritage collection. Its focus will be to sit above the current ‘R’ and ‘R.S’ lines, producing the absolute halo models for any car that it’s going to be applied to.
So far the division has only produced two models, the Range Rover Sport SVR and the F-Type convertible based Project 7.
“It’s [currently] like a nucleus, its two models that they’ve done, Range Rover Sport and Project 7. Does it fit for every model? Maybe, who knows.”
Winkler, who confirmed that five deposits had already been taken for the 250 (worldwide) limited edition Project 7 model in Australia, expressed enthusiasm for the performance brand’s potential in our market.
“If we take that very basic AMG, M, Audi S line idea and expand it into three areas, something that you would call truly bespoke, something very unique as in a Project Seven that you can’t do on assembly line and on the four wheel drives you can talk about the Range Rover Sport, but imagination could go crazy in terms of how you can further enhance it.”
Where SVO may differentiate itself from the Germans will be the level of bespoke work it will be willing to take on.
“Again [it’s] bespoke in the sense of truly somebody coming and saying this is what I want can you make it for me, particularly in Australia there’s an appetite for that.”
It is worth noting that Australia is a particularly strong performance market, with AMG selling huge numbers on a per capita basis, Audi's S and RS lines up more than 100 per cent this year and BMW's M cars continuing to make up a higher proportion of sales here, relative to BMW's less-tuned models, when compared to other markets.
When asked what the price premium would be for SVO models, Winkler joked that “there are other manufacturers who are very successful at making cars more expensive by taking stuff out, it’s a good example to follow”.
The first of the SVO models coming to Australia will be the Project 7 mid next year, which is likely to have a name change and, confusingly, not even wear an SVO or SVR badge.