Behind the Scenes: What is Jaguar’s Special Operations Division?

Cars don’t come much more premium than those from Jaguar Land Rover, but if you want something that drips exclusivity, then the company’s new Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division will be happy to help.

A cash injection of £22million and 200 dedicated engineers at JLR’s state of the art facility in Warwickshire work on developing some the brand’s standard models, such as the Jaguar XE saloon and Range Rover, into serious performance cars.

“SVO is about pushing boundaries and making vehicles that stand out. These are not just great looking cars. We make outstanding cars,” is the message from SVO boss John Edwards – and you have to agree with him if you look at one of the brand’s first models.


Large, boxy SUVs aren’t meant to deliver sports car performance, but the Range Rover Sport SVR does exactly that. SVO stripped out the interior, fitted racing seats, overhauled the design with a subtle body kit and then fitted a 542bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine under the bonnet. The result is an SUV that hits 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, before romping onto 175mph flat out.


SVO also has a world record holder in its product portfolio: the XE SV Project 8. Only 300 have been produced, all are painstakingly hand built, and its uncompromising focus on performance means the Project 8 is the quickest rear-wheel drive saloon in the world. Buyers can even opt to remove the rear seats to reduce the car’s weight in the bid for ultimate performance.


But if luxury is more your thing, then SVO can help with that, too. If you can cough up over £180,000 for the Range Rover SVAutobiography it will cocoon you in greater luxury than a First Class BA flight. Those riding in the back can even enjoy a hot-stone massage from sumptuous quilted leather seats.

The next step up from that is your own specially commissioned car; if your bank account is big enough, and your idea not beyond the realms of possibility, then SVO could make it a reality.

Jonathan Burn

Jonathan Burn is a world renowned automotive journalist, and Ape's resident car expert with a deep appreciation for anything that drives fast.