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

Published:10 June 2019

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic (2019) review: V8 punch
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

► Hottest Velar yet driven
► Supercharged V8 underneath
► On sale one year only, for £87k

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.

Velar SVA rear overhead

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.

Velar SVA interior

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.

Velar SVA exhausts

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.

Velar SVA cornering

The eight-speed auto does shift very quickly, combining with those engine characteristics to provide a constant flood of performance, but there’s perhaps not the crispness we’ve experienced in other models, particularly on downshifts – presumably to avoid any uncouth ripples.

The steering helps disguise the Velar’s bulk, with a relatively light feel, but no lack of precision, and the combination of grip, torque, traction and a supple but controlled chassis make this an easy car to move rapidly but relatively discreetly from point-to-point.

Switch to Dynamic and the air springs can feel very firm on less than perfect surfaces, but improved body control is welcome on twistier roads, so too the extra steering weight, which heightens the sense of definition while avoiding the stodginess that’s so often the trade-off.

Really push on and the Velar becomes less focused. There’s some squidge from the all-season rubber, a bit of understeer here and there, and it feels quite a big, heavy car to manage when you really pile it into corners. The combination of momentum, roll and slowing the thing down all betray the Velar is exiting its comfort zone with some untidy flailing. It’s much better when you wind back the pace just a little.

Velar SVA Ben B driving

Verdict

The Velar SVA Dynamic mostly achieves Special Vehicle Operations’ objectives as a more luxurious, refined and off-road capable alternative to the rowdier, more focused F-Pace SVR. It feels and looks special inside and out, it’s a refined drive – from its cushioned ride quality to its sophisticated V8 soundtrack – and an off-road trail more than proved its capability in that regard. But breathing room remains for the SVA Dynamic to hit all those targets and feel more incisive and, well, more dynamic still.

Check out our Land Rover reviews

Specs

Price when new: £86,685
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4999cc 32v V8 supercharged, 542bhp @ 6000-6500rpm, 487lb ft @ 2500-5500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.5sec 0-62mph, 170mph (limited), up to 23.9mpg, 270g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2095kg/aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4806/2041/1676mm

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Photo Gallery

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

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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