Supercharged V8 Range Rover Velar on test: it's a quiet riot
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RANGE ROVER VELAR SVAUTOBIOGRAPHY DYNAMIC EDITION
- High style with high performance
- Epic V8 soundtrack
- Refined and luxurious when required
- Much more expensive than Jaguar F-Pace SVR
- Epic V8 also likes a drink
- Fussy (but fun) touch screens
Back in 1967 when it was time for Land Rover to start testing prototypes of a radical new (and still very secret) thing called the Range Rover in public, it created a fake brand to put on the bonnet.
“Velar” was derived from the Italian velare, meaning “to hide”. So very appropriate and also a bit mysterious, piquing interest without giving the game away.
Oh yes, and Velar could also be spelt from the existing letters in “Land Rover”, so that bonnet badging could be plucked from the existing parts bin. A very practical choice… yet the result was much more than the sum of its parts.
Which brings us to the new Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography, which is also made from some very familiar parts.
Like the whole Velar range, it’s based on the platform of the Jaguar F-Pace. Lesser Velars have four and six-cylinder engines, but this one – created by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations – picks up the mighty 5.0-litre supercharged V8 you’ll also find in SVR versions of the F-Pace and other Range Rovers.
Despite the massive engine, this SUV is primarily about luxury. The Special Vehicles “SVR” models prioritise performance and handling, while “SVAutobiography” is more about sumptuousness and personalisation. There’s also an “SVX” designation for extreme off-road models.
On paper, it’s a bit hard to swallow two cars on the same platform with the same power being at opposite ends of the performance/luxury equation. But in practice?
The Velar SVAutobiography can certainly do the go-fast stuff. The 0-100km/h sprint is exactly the same as the F-Pace SVR (4.5sec) and the whirring supercharged V8 delivers a stunning soundtrack when the Variable Active Exhaust System is turned up to 11.
The suspension, transmission and AWD system all have a unique SVO-designed calibration. So monster V8 or not, this is a very different dynamic proposition to any other Velar.
But the luxury is turned up to 11 in the Velar as well - as it should be, for an extra $30k over its Jaguar sibling. The steering and chassis responses are a little more considered in the Velar, partly because it has air suspension as standard. A broader range of settings from that tech also means the Velar combines grippy handling with a surprisingly supple ride when required, even on those monster 21-inch wheels.
It’s more refined, too: with the exhaust in normal operating mode the Velar is quieter than the F-Pace, plus you get that OTT Range Rover luxury ambience. Any Velar is posh inside, but the SVAutobiography boasts twin-stitched and quilted Windsor leather, a unique steering wheel and knurled aluminium controls (move over Bentley). There’s also virtual knurling on the digital dashboard, so don’t tell me SVO hasn’t thought of everything.
Among the extra equipment on the SVAutobiography is a more comprehensive driver-assistance package, including adaptive cruise control – a rather surprising omission (or rather, option) on other Velar models.
The touchy feely bits are exquisite, but there might be some digital overkill. The Velar was the first Range Rover to have a haptic-feedback touch-screen centre-console layout for many major vehicle functions. It looks and feels deeply impressive and it’s kind of clever because what physical controls there are change function, depending on what else you’re doing with the system.
For example, there are rotary knobs that can adjust anything from the drive mode to the seat heating, depending on what other virtual buttons you’ve selected.
Clever, but also a bit fussy. Because what might be one step with conventional controls can become two or three under this “Touch Pro Duo” architecture. But it’s sweeping across the JLR landscape, so get used to it.
You can forgive some form over function with the Velar, because style is what it’s all about. The SVAutobiography exterior changes move it slightly away from the super-sleek and clean look of lesser versions, but they’re still tastefully executed.
There are deeper front and rear bumpers that work with a new aero undertray, body coloured side skirts and massive integrated quad (and quad-shaped) tailpipe outlets – which aren’t physically connected to the exhausts if you look closely, presumably because they could burn some massive quad-shaped designs into your trousers if you were reaching into the luggage area while they were hot.
Put the F-Pace SVR aside and you could think of the Velar SVAutobiography as a more stylish, more agile sibling to the Range Rover Sport SVR – which has more power/torque, but no better 0-100km/h performance because it’s heavier, and a bigger price tag again: $209,900. So looking really good really can cost a bit less after all.
RANGE ROVER VELAR SVAUTOBIOGRAPHY DYNAMIC EDITION
Engine: 5.0l supercharged V8
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, AWD