The Range Rover Sport SVR has just posted a lap time of just eight minutes and 14 seconds, making it the fastest production specification off-roader ever to take to the world-famous German circuit.
The car has set a record lap time around the Nurburgring circuit. Photo:AFP
Land Rover isn't quite ready to officially unveil its latest model -- that won't be happening until the Paris Motor Show in October -- and in all of the public appearances that the car has made to date it has remained covered in a camouflaging vinyl wrap.
And while the company has been shy about showing off the car's exterior, it has taken the complete opposite approach to discussing what's nestling under its heavily disguised hood and what it's capable of doing.
When the car goes on sale in early 2015, buyers will get an SUV with a 5-liter V8 supercharged engine, tuned to deliver 550PS (that's 40PS more than a standard Range Rover Sport) and a suspension and chassis set-up that has been honed via exhaustive testing at the Nürburgring -- Land Rover has been camped out there for months.
Mike Cross, Chief Engineer Vehicle Integrity, said: "The Nürburgring is a benchmark for vehicle development and testing, and cars become stronger, more durable and faster over its 13 miles and 70-plus corners. We wanted to see whether an SUV could behave like a performance car in this challenging environment. The results are spectacular and the Range Rover Sport SVR has demonstrated outstanding on-road performance capabilities."
That's all well and good, and tuning a car more suited to climbing or descending hills and mountains to perform on a track is a remarkable engineering achievement. However, while eight minutes and 14 seconds is indeed quick for a big, seven-seat 4x4, it's slower than a Renault Mégane or a Seat Leon, both of which can complete the circuit in less than 8 minutes and, as they're merely sportier versions of small family hatchbacks, are considerably cheaper to buy too.
That said, Land Rover shouldn't be criticized for trying to protect a vehicle segment it essentially created from a growing list of competitors such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, which are playing up the sporty aspect over the 'utility vehicle' part of the acronym.
If Land Rover can deliver a car that is as fast as the Range Rover Sport SVR without diluting the standard model's off-road prowess, that really will be an engineering feat worth celebrating.
But we won't know if the company has been truly successful until the car makes its official debut and the world's motoring journalists have had a chance to put it through its paces on and off-road.