If you read our May issue, you saw the latest from legendary tuner Caractere. We took a drive in what many consider a traditional tuner car, a MK7 VW GTI, in an area where the Belgian modifier is well known. For this review, since that GTI was fresh in all of our minds, we decided to see how Caractere has branched out into the world of luxury cars with its Caractere Exclusive line and the Range Rover Sport.
Like the GTI, all of the external body components are manufactured out of high-quality reaction injection molded polyurethane, meaning the fit and finish will complement the factory spec panels. This is the same material the factory chose, so you know it works. It will be just as impact resistant as the factory piece, and while it may not be as light as something like carbon fiber, it also won't be as brittle and prone to cracking from point loads. In addition to the quality of the product, the aesthetics look remarkable when compared to stock.
Everything above the grille is stock; the front bumper does away with the factory's blocky looks by adding sleek narrow lines while still mirroring the original design language. The front side intakes have also been given a more aggressive, larger presence to give the car a little more intimidation factor. The bumper has been perfectly color-matched to the factory Yulong White of the rest of the body. The accents have been painted in both gloss black and Metallic Titanium to match Range Rover's original tricolor scheme.
Walking around the side of the car, we can see the wide fender flares are also color matched to the body, skipping the more extroverted trend to shout about extra width. The side moldings are stock but also painted in matching white by BK-Motorsport instead of its factory black, to create a much cleaner look. The 22x10-inch alloy CW1 design Caractere wheels are bi-colored with graphite and bright cut-silver. The wheels manage to look both classy and menacing while allowing ample vision of the enormous red Brembo brake calipers. The wheels are fitted with grippy Toyo Proxes ST II 285/35-22 tires, which are wider and have ever so slightly shorter sidewalls than stock.
Looking at the rear of the car, we see the handiwork of the Caractere Exclusive rear bumper and exhaust tips. The bumper, like the front, has been painted the car's three-color scheme with a metallic titanium-colored strip along the back, just above the massive glossy black diffuser that separates two stainless steel Caractere exhaust tips. Combined, the rear looks more masculine and sporty than the uninspired bumper and miniscule exhaust tips that burbled off the showroom floor. On top is the Caractere Exclusive spoiler, painted to blend in with the roof, and again hypes up the exotic sport nature of the body kit. As a final touch, the oval brand logo and Range Rover lettering have been swapped out for black-painted versions.
For centuries, philosophers have struggled to quantify the cost of beauty. We have it right here, broken down in neat, consumable packages. The body kit is $6,500, roughly $3,700 for the wheels, and $110,000 factory MSRP—take that Nietzsche.
More importantly, the Caractere Exclusive Range Rover Sport looks like a million bucks and grabs the attention of passersby much more than it would stock—which is exactly the reason you're driving a premium SUV. Nietzsche had thoughts on art and vanity as well; we won't judge.
Unlike the GTI, BK-Motorsports didn't see the need for more power; the Range Rover Sport is already blessed with a supercharged V-8 delivering more than 500 hp. Do you really need to improve on a 5-second 0-60 time? Furthermore, the interior is also just as it left Range Rover; that is to say, stock for the Dynamic Package, which includes Oxford perforated seats, a Meridian sound system comprised of 16 channels and 19 speakers, a full-sized panoramic roof, and several other optional packages that make any modifications unnecessary.
As we drove around on the streets of Orange County, California, the car generated more attention than one would expect in a land blanketed in the luxury SUV sector. The car even looks quick when driving slowly—as evidenced by a nearby resident calling BK-Motorsport during our photo shoot to complain that the driver was going too quickly, though I stayed obediently at the speed limit.
As expected, it drove splendidly and felt much more nimble and sprite than the size may suggest.
Overall, this Caractere-tuned Range Rover is a bit of an exercise in excess, but in the very best way possible. The luxury SUV that rolls out of the factory might suffer from a bit of traditional English modesty. This version finally matches the interior and factory performance with an appropriately exemplary exterior. At the time of this writing, the car is listed on BK-Motorsport's Facebook page for $90,000. I won't be surprised if it's sold by the time you read this. That price is roughly 30 percent less than what it cost to create. If this one is gone, get in touch with BK-Motorsports; the company can help you build your own, which we can't imagine anyone with the means would ever regret.