RE: Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography | Driven

RE: Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography | Driven

Monday 10th June

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography | Driven

JLR's Special Vehicle Operations has injected the Velar with its 550hp 5.0-litre V8 serum...



Ask anyone at an increasingly confident Special Vehicle Operations what their remit is when it comes to JLR's core models, and they will tell you: "making it as good as it can be". The key differentiator there, from Mercedes-AMG, Audi Sport, BMW M GmbH et al, is that succeeding in that regard is not necessarily about making said model go like stink. It is, SVO points out, as much about maintaining the character of the car as anything else - even while it seeks to weave that special sort of magic that convinces someone to pay dramatically over the odds for what is essentially a highfalutin trim level.

Which brings us to the £86k, 550hp Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. Yes, it goes like stink. But it's a special sort of stink, says SVO. The car isn't intended to be quite as rambunctious as the Jaguar F-Pace SVR - the model it shares its all-aluminium platform and 5.0-litre supercharged V8 with - nor is it meant to be quite as, erm... outspoken, as the Range Rover Sport SVR. Its inspiration (if we can call it that) is the more recent short-wheelbase Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition, which sought to maximise the standard car's myriad luxurious qualities without fundamentally altering them.

Consequently, while you do get the (much) larger eight-cylinder engine in the new Velar, it is not the fire-breathing variant seen elsewhere (SVO having coaxed 575hp from it in the RRS SVR; 600hp even, in the Project 8) and its engineers have targeted a 'warmer' sound from the adaptive exhaust than they did in the F-Pace SVR. Similarly, the car retains air springs - the Jaguar gets steel suspension as standard - and while it receives a bespoke state of tune, beefier anti-roll bars and different bushes, the SVAD's all-wheel-drive system doesn't adopt quite as determined a rear-bias as its lighter sibling, and gives up 0.2 seconds in the sprint to 62mph as well.


If that all sounds like a slightly more subdued package, you wouldn't know it from the outside. In high-price spec, the Velar has always looked tremendous, and SVO's version duly takes the range-topper biscuit. As promised, the alterations are fairly subtle: the bumpers have been tweaked front and back (where, inevitably, you'll find quad tailpipes), there's a unique grille, a splitter that's 10mm lower than standard and different side mouldings on the doors. Oh and there is a choice of 21- and 22-inch forged alloys, which save around 2.5kg per corner and accommodate larger brakes front and back.

Despite sticking with the standard model's ride height, the effect of all this is to draw the already conspicuously low Velar even closer to the ground - and unless you're offended by the sight of an SUV with its arches filled to the brim, the car lives up to the SVAD billing in fine and only very modestly bling style. (It's less overtly garish than the RRS SVR, at any rate.) Inside, aside from twin-stitch perforated leather and a newly contoured steering wheel rim, it's more about curating currently available options than cocking about with the existing architecture. But that's fine: it's a lovely and fairly low place to sit, and once you've made your peace with the lack of a proper gear lever (the Velar persists with the old dial-shaped selector), chances are you're going to feel all warm and fuzzy about your purchase.

Firing up the AJ-V8 is unlikely to put a dampener on proceedings; as promised, it is more subdued than in other settings, but not to the extent where you ever start to wonder at its absence. Even without hitting the adaptive exhaust note button, there's the unmistakable bass of big displacement in the air. It makes itself felt underfoot, too: if the responsiveness and torque delivery of even the most powerful four-cylinder Velar left you somewhat underwhelmed, the SVA's supercharged motor is a predictably potent sort of remedy. Yes, the car is nearly 100kg heavier than the F-Pace - and feels it, with the ZF 'box's inclination for downshifting - but it still pitches gleefully back on its own bow wave, and then surges characterfully and excitably forward. Few owners will expect more.


Presumably it is their expectation of what might happen the first time they meet a corner which has instructed the chassis tuning. Given the introduction of an additional 250hp (over a previous range peak of 300hp) it's understandable that SVO might have sought to somewhat reduce the amount of cushioning available to a standard Velar driver. Nevertheless, it doesn't seem to have found quite the same acutely brilliant ride and handling compromise evident in the latest RRS SVR; the 'Comfort' grade ride quality is supple enough on smoother roads, but - on the larger 22-inch wheels at least - you'll notice a little jitteriness when surfaces become challenging in the British sense.

Perhaps that's okay though if your niche customer is driving about with an uprated sense of enthusiasm compared to the 'standard' buyer - hoist your flag about two-thirds of the way up the effort pole and the SVAD sweeps about the place in a way that speaks not only to its poise but also a pleasing sense of connectedness to the ground. Without a cooking model to drive back-to-back, it's hard to properly grade the enhancement of its turn-in or precision (given the Velar wasn't short of either) but SVO certainly hasn't striven to eliminate the gathering body roll which has always marked Range Rover out from the SUV crowd. That's as it should be - cleverly reining in high-sided mass is Land Rover's calling card, and it would have exceeded SVO's stated brief to tack the model down. There's mechanical grip to spare, regardless.

The more noticeable shortfall is not with the standard Velar, but with SVO's other products. Start to really push on and the SVAD's inability (or unwillingness at least) to send more of its power rearward as it transitions through a corner can be frustrating. The ability of either SVR variant to rotate on the power was a defining aspect of not just their likability, but their drivability, too. The Velar's comparative intransigence - despite a standard-fit active differential at the back - tends to make it feel a little nose heavy, and ultimately less engaging by comparison.


Of course the not unreasonable counter to that would be that the SVAutobiography - for all the mention of 'Dynamic' - doesn't feature an R in its badge, and SVO's engineers have made certain choices on that basis (chiefly stability over adjustability). That's fair enough - although given our own choice of Range Rover halfway house, we might have taken a very pillowy fast-in-a-straight-line car over the chosen trade-off. But that's just us. We're old school.

Instead, JLR's skunkworks has delivered the tricked-out Velar it believes it can sell - and that it will surely do. In the modern vogue of low-riding SUVs, it is very good looking and, so long as you don't want to change your drive mode while your other half is adjusting the climate control (a bugbear of the all-LED screen switchgear), it's very nice to sit in and interact with, too. Add in the always enlivening prospect of JLR's rumbly supercharged V8 - here in an appealingly grown-up state of tune - and you've ticked the first three boxes on any prospective buyer's list. And if the fourth box reads 'handling fireworks' - well, SVO has something else in its lineup to suit those customers as well.


SPECIFICATIONS - RANGE ROVER VELAR SVAUTOBIOGRAPHY DYNAMIC EDITION
Engine: 4,999cc, V8, supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@6,000-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 502@2,500-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.5 secs
Top speed: 170mph
Weight: 2,160kg (EU unladen)
MPG: 23.9 (NEDC)
CO2: 270g/km (NEDC)
Price: £86,120








Author
Discussion

Bencolem

Original Poster:

467 posts

181 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Those exhausts though...

RobDickinson

26,111 posts

196 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Svo = stick the old v8 into it operation.

The world doesn't need this.

unsprung

2,783 posts

66 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all


The exterior looks ace, the pleasing arc of the roof line in particular.

Love the flush door handles. The exhausts appear to be quite the dog's aren't they.

Delightful quilted pattern on the seats.

I mean... there's lots to like, here. I just wonder how often it will visit the dealership. One of those "not for me, but I'm glad it exists" sort of things.





aston addict

223 posts

100 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Another article I looked forward to reading, but was ruined by NC’s godawful writing style.

Take the third paragraph. It’s a single sentence!

Pistonheads, please fix this.

Edited by aston addict on Monday 10th June 05:12

Guffy

2,202 posts

207 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
aston addict said:
Another article I looked forward to reading, but was ruined by NC’s godawful writing style.

Take the third paragraph. It’s a single sentence!

Pistonheads, please fix this.

Edited by aston addict on Monday 10th June 05:12
Sadly have to agree, i don't want to be mean, but there's often so much verbosity that i've forgotten what the point was half-way through the paragraph frown



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nicfaz

258 posts

172 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
In these days of restomods and SVO, I’m eagerly looking forward to the Landrover Series III SVO autobiography. It will be great to have this engine combined with real off road ability and a classic LR look.

Nerdherder

685 posts

39 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
aston addict said:
Another article I looked forward to reading, but was ruined by NC’s godawful writing style.

Take the third paragraph. It’s a single sentence!

Pistonheads, please fix this.

Edited by aston addict on Monday 10th June 05:12
Quite readable for a Cackett to my taste. Still, I’d put him on the ejector seat.

Nerdherder

685 posts

39 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
RobDickinson said:
Svo = stick the old v8 into it operation.

The world doesn't need this.
I’d accept the keys if one rolled up on my drive. If speccing myself I wish this was an EV. I’m not joking.

CharlieAlphaMike

339 posts

47 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
aston addict said:
Another article I looked forward to reading, but was ruined by NC’s godawful writing style.

Take the third paragraph. It’s a single sentence!

Pistonheads, please fix this.

Edited by aston addict on Monday 10th June 05:12
It's actually two sentences; with a lot of unnecessary punctuation.

yonex

14,291 posts

110 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Glad they made it, great it’s not another soulless milkfloat, but it’s as irrelevant as the rest of them. I’ll take two..

AmosMoses

3,235 posts

107 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Its big, its fast and it looks good. I think its great!

TonyRPH

9,836 posts

110 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
Those exhausts though...
+1

The exhausts are somewhat oversized, look out of proportion.

Krikkit

15,261 posts

123 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
RobDickinson said:
Svo = stick the old v8 into it operation.

The world doesn't need this.
No, but the world isn't a poorer place for it existing. More V8s the better.

Wills2

15,644 posts

117 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Fabulous thing, I drove a standard Velar a few weeks ago and loved it (apart from the engine) so this would be perfect apart from the price for me of course.


Nickbrapp

2,763 posts

72 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Shame it still looks like a slab sided fish.

I really don’t like the sides, so flat and looks stupid without handles

The front looks like a fish with so much room between the grills and the silly number plate plinth

Have the stolen the tail pipes from a max power car?


GranCab

1,468 posts

88 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Apart from the "two thirds of the way up a flagpole" nonsense, Cack-it appears to have lost most of his godawful flowery writing style.

4/10 must try harder.

E65Ross

22,590 posts

154 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
Those exhausts though...
Exactly what I was thinking. The rest of the car isn't too bad, but the exhausts look hideous.

Arsecati

215 posts

59 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
When I saw the name of the author on the top, I tried to clear his name from my mind and read this article as if I didn't have a clue who he was. But I'll admit, I was STILL geared up for giving the man a slating...... just waiting for the first bit of nonsensical over-written gibberish.

But no, it didn't come, and in fact I'm quite happy to stand up and say that I believe NC HAS taken on the previous 'criticisms' and delivered a well written article! I'm sorry, I do see another couple of comments slating it, but in this case, I have to completely disagree (and I really did lay in to NC on the Merc/Porsche article!).

I started reading it already gunning for a shooting, but credit where it is due: NC, you have shown (to me at least!), that there is most definitely an able auto-journalist in you, and I'm quite happy to say that I enjoyed that read........ shocked as I am to say that!

Fair play man - more like this please, and I'm pretty sure in good time others will forget your past too! wink

Frimley111R

9,642 posts

176 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
Krikkit said:
RobDickinson said:
Svo = stick the old v8 into it operation.

The world doesn't need this.
No, but the world isn't a poorer place for it existing. More V8s the better.
It doesn't really need anything more than a Dacia Sandero but ....

SturdyHSV

6,307 posts

109 months

Monday 10th June
quotequote all
TonyRPH said:
Bencolem said:
Those exhausts though...
+1

The exhausts are somewhat oversized, look out of proportion.
Came here for the exhaust comments as they are fking awful. I expected more abuse to be honest, is PH going soft?