Wednesday, June 19

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic (2019) review: V8 punch

Perhaps it’s easiest to think of this special edition Range Rover Velar as a posh sibling to the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, because you’d never tow its name behind a plane: Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition.

We’ll explain that logic in a minute. The crucial news is this is the only Velar to get JLR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8. The SVA Dynamic – at least that’s easier – is positioned as a Velar enhanced in every way, from luxury to performance to handling.

Production isn’t capped, but is limited to just one year from around about now. You’ll pay £86,685 – over £11k more than the equivalent F-Pace, if in line with the pricing structure across the two model ranges.

Run me through the spec…
The V8 produces 542bhp and 502lb ft, the same as the F-Pace SVR, which propels the Velar from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to 170mph. This Velar’s aluminium architecture was never designed for a V8, and extensive work was required to the secondary bulkhead to package it effectively – it is packaged impressively far back in the body considering. In the UK, the next step down is a 2.0-litre four in terms of petrol powerplants, though a 3.0 V6 petrol is available overseas.Air suspension is standard, with an unchanged – if adjustable – ride height compared with other Velars, though the air springs are uprated, the adaptive dampers retuned and thicker anti-roll bars added. There’s a specific calibration for the all-wheel drive, eight-speed auto and electronic rear differential too, and larger brakes: 395mm with four-piston calipers up front, and 396mm with sliding calipers at the rear.

What about the exterior and interior?
The Velar’s design is already pretty dramatic, so the updates are quite restrained, if something of a Velar greatest hits package. There is a new front bumper and grille to improve cooling, deeper sideskirts, and a rear bumper with quad exhaust finishers. Satin Byron Blue is a fresh, exclusive – gah, £6k! – colour and all get the contrast black roof plus the knurled surfacing on the Range Rover badging. Bespoke 21-inch forged alloys are standard, 22s optional, both 2.5kg lighter per corner than cast equivalents. All-season tyres are the only choice.The interior gets electrically adjustable massage seats in Windsor leather, a re-designed steering wheel and knurled bits of jewellery here and there. It’s an effective makeover for the already slick looking cabin with its dual touchscreens, and is only really let down by some cheaper plastics lower down the cabin (not so noticeable) and flimsy-feeling adjustors for the electric seats (extremely noticeable).

So why SVAutobiography Dynamic?
It’s a bit long-winded. Posher Range Rovers have worn the Autobiography tag for years. Then, a few years ago, JLR’s new Special Vehicle Operations division created a more luxurious version. It became the SVAutobiography, and was available in two versions: a long-wheelbase model for owners who sat in the back, and a ‘short’-wheelbase version for owners who sat in the front. The latter was called SVAutobiography Dynamic because it was more engaging to drive. Logical, yet convoluted.SVR would have been simpler, but then Velar and F-Pace are already the only two Jaguar and Land Rover models on the same platform, and presumably they didn’t want the two to compete directly. Hence Jag gets the sportier SVR nameplate, Velar SVA Dynamic majors more on luxury and refinement, but still with a high-performance twist. Air suspension also gives it superior off-road ability, as you’d expect of a Land Rover.

What’s the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic like to drive?
It’s good. The driver’s seat is set low for an SUV, and is both deeply cushioned – including the head rest – and nicely supportive. We rode in an F-Pace SVR from Barcelona airport to our test drive, and its sports buckets are firmer and much less forgiving, so already you sense the two SUVs’ different characters

Pootle around in standard mode and you notice how much plusher the Velar’s ride is than the F-Pace too, with a more long-legged, supple feel. The soundtrack is signature V8, but it’s quite cultured and sophisticated, not overbearing. Throttle response is prompt, but this feels a flexible, easy-going SUV to waft around town in, not one that’s straining at the leash.

How about when you drive harder?
Open the taps and the Velar lifts its nose and shoots forward energetically considering the two-tonne-plus kerbweight. Easy torque, instant supercharged response and a willingness to rev all underline the urgency, as does the more pronounced – if still far from rude – noise ripping from the quad tailpipes.