What is it?
There’s very little about the fast, handsome Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic – apart perhaps from the record-breaking 16 syllables of its name – that comes as a shock.
Once it was established last year that the ‘base’ Velar was one of Jaguar Land Rover’s successes (66,000 sold so far) and that the mechanically similar Jaguar F-Pace SVR was also doing well for JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations department, it became pretty clear that a higher-performance Velar was on the cards.
Not that the new Velar SVAD was ever likely to be sold as a mere ‘hot Velar’. Land Rover has been successful at avoiding a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to Range Rovers – which it now offers in three sizes – and the same goes for this new SVAD, which has been developed with refined, supple long-distance luxury in mind, not merely to be a Range Rover that’s faster than yours. Or your Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio or Porsche Macan Turbo – two obvious competitors – for that matter.
Jaguars and Range Rovers from JLR’s SVO unit come in distinct strands: there are the SVRs, which stress performance, and SVAutobiographys, which stress luxury. This new Velar Dynamic Edition combines the two philosophies at prices from £86,685. The production run is limited to a year for reasons that became a little clearer on the day we tested the model near Barcelona: Ford announced plans to close its Bridgend engine plant, the regular source of JLR’s V8s. Jag V8s are believed likely to keep flowing for a while from a new production facility at Wolverhampton.
The Velar SVAD engine is JLR’s respected but familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that produces a meaty 542bhp, with 502lb ft of torque, which is directed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a permanent four-wheel-drive system. All the usual driving modes, traction controls and hill descent gizmos are present and correct, with the standard Velar’s air suspension units reduced in volume to increase their basic spring rate for sportier (but still height adjustable) performance.
The SVAD rides on standard 21in wheels – nothing smaller is possible because it also gets bigger SV-spec disc brakes all round – but a 22in option is available. Land Rover insiders prefer 21s for semi-serious off-roading to limit rim damage. In both sizes the wheels are forged, which gives them extra strength and cuts weight by an impressive 2.5kg a wheel, benefiting ride quality as well as kerb weight.
All of the other important dynamic bits – steering, 4WD system, active rear locking diff, eight-speed auto, higher rate air suspension, continuously variable dampers and stiffer anti-roll bars – are specially adapted for duty in the SVAutobiography Edition, a fact that becomes obvious when you drive.
The Intelligent Driveline distributes engine torque according to driving conditions, but though it can send 100% to the rear wheels if necessary, the SVAD set-up is more ‘balanced’ than the Jaguar SVR, which sends more torque to the rear, more of the time.
Land Rover isn’t especially helpful with performance figures but the SVAD’s claimed 0-60mph sprint time of 4.3sec chimes exactly with that of the Jaguar SVR (same size and platform), which leads you to believe that this special Velar weighs the same two tonnes as the Jag, and can reach around 170mph flat out.